Just as your organisation has a defined culture, each social media platform has distinct characteristics. In this blog, we have compiled a list of the characteristics of the main 5 social media platforms.
Social Media Platform Basics
At their roots, all social media platforms are the same. What makes a website into a social media platform, is its ability to host User Generated Content. All social media platforms have the following features in order to be classed as Social Media Platforms:
- Web space: the platform should provide its users with free web space to upload their own content, ie photos, events, videos.
- Web address: users are given a unique web address that becomes their web identity. They can post and share all the content on this web address, ie twitter.com/socialbuk
- Build profiles: users are asked to enter personal details like name, address, date of birthday, profession etc.
- Connect with friends: users are encouraged to post personal and/or professional updated about themselves. The site then connects users, their connections, and their content. In LinkedIn, you make connections, on Facebook its friends and on Twitter its followers.
- Upload content in real time: users can post a variety of content types: text, images, audio video, icons and most recently, live streaming.
- Engagement: Members are given the rights to comment on content made by their connections.
However, differences in the technology, the style of user generated content and the platform’s design mean that each of the main social media platforms have very different characteristics, and therefore attract very different audiences.
As a business, you need to analyse which of the social media platforms are worthy of time and financial investment. Below, we show the 5 main social media platforms and their unique selling points.
I consider Facebook the mother of all social media platforms. It’s the biggest, most successful and has the most features. It is designed to be used as a recreational tool, and generally, users are looking for entertainment when they are engaging with it. Therefore if you are a B2C brand, can engage with your audience and entertain, then your communications will fit with your audiences’ aim of being on the platform. Food, fashion, charity, music are all areas that succeed on Facebook.
Frequency: If you plan to have a Facebook Business page, you need to update the content at least once a week and always be available to engage with your audience.
A stark contrast to Facebook, Linkedin in the B2B space. Every piece of information on Linkedin must add value to at least one segment of your business’ stakeholder audience. Think supply chain, recruitment, B2B sales and deepening relationships. With Facebook, you can advertise a quick sale on a clothing brand. On LinkedIn, if you try to close a sale, you will be shunned. This is the place to deepen your business relationships.
Frequency: If you plan to have a LinkedIn company presence, schedule in two pieces of valuable content on the platform a month, plus general engagement.
Twitter is arguably still the only platform where you legitimately connect with people you don’t know and have conversations with them. You can ask questions/answer others questions and use it for recreation or business. Its immediacy and access to topic experts is its appeal.
Frequency: The shelf life of a Tweet is about 5 minutes so if you plan to use Twitter for business then you need to have the resource to be tweeting (inc retweets/quotes and engagements) at least 2/3 times a day.
Instagram is the new area for big business. Its photo-led design means you need to think how to display your business in a visually descriptive way. Ask yourself whether your business has the capacity for producing visual content episodically. If you can, then this is an exciting space. B2C business fit well into this platform, and you need to provide some entertain or ‘the humans behind the brand’ style content.
Frequency: brands that do really well on Instagram are posting at least once a day. But look at your audience and make a judgment on what they need from you.
The youngster in the room! Snapchat’s main audience is the 13-20s. If your brand has that target market, you need to get on Snapchat. Look at Nike, Addidas case studies for how brand are succeeding on the platform.
Frequency: all the time.
For all social media platforms, the key elements to success are
- Listen: find out what your target audience is saying and use it for market research
- Engage: talk to your target audience and deepen relationships
- Create: create good content, consistent with your brand and the platform you choose to be on.
Whether you are on 1 or 5 social media platforms, it’s crucial to ensure you are on the right platforms for your business and that you have the time and resource to maintain them properly. Start with one or two, then build up when you are ready.