We have all heard of the big social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram – if you haven’t or you’re new to social media, we’ll give you the low-down in a minute. But these popular platforms represent just the very tip of the social media iceberg. There are many, many platforms active and waiting to be discovered and one you may not have heard of – yet – could be among the best social media platforms for business for your brand.
DID YOU KNOW: There are more than 400 social media platforms?
A social media network is a platform that exists for the simple reason of building social relations and networks between people who share a common interest, background, activity or real-life connection. Users create personal (or business and organisational) profiles and connect with social links and other services.
Here we concisely provide a list of social media platforms and a simple explanation of each one. These are but a small sample of the hundreds of social networking sites out there on the interwebs, but represent those that could be the most appropriate social media platforms for your business marketing purposes. Some will be more than familiar; others will likely be new to you – they may all be new to you.
Whatever your social media status, here’s the low-down in no particular order:
Twitter is a simple site that has evolved enormously into a top news-sharing platform. A micro-blogging site, with limits of posts to 140 characters, it is perfect for use on mobiles and is yet easily used to share multimedia content. According to The eBusiness Guide, it has an estimated 310 million unique monthly visitors. Simple to set up, it is user-friendly for even the least tech-minded of us.
This is, to date, the web’s fastest-growing social media network, having launched as recently as 2011. Another micro-blogging site, Google+ is becoming more popular (with 120 million monthly users), and is an effective platform for social media marketing activities. It has cleverly combined facets of both Twitter and Facebook and powered them with the world’s largest search engine. Add content, highlight posts with hashtags, separate content into user groups (circles) – and it is simple to use.
Facebook continues to dominate the field of social media. With billions of users, it really needs little introduction. It has an estimated 900 million unique monthly visitors, aged from the young to the elderly, and regularly updates and adds features to keep it fresh and ahead of its competition. Users connect and share images, thoughts, experiences, links and support for brands and chosen organisations.
This extremely popular photo-sharing platform is the ultimate in mobile sharing on the go for real-time images and videos. One hundred million users participate on the platform each month.
The world’s largest professional social network, geared towards business networking, LinkedIn attracts an estimated 255 million unique monthly visitors. Users promote themselves and their business; this is the platform to showcase one’s education, work experience, and to network with other professionals and build connections related to career, as well as apply for jobs, post job adverts and participate in group discussions.
YouTube is the global go-to place for sharing and watching video content. It is the world’s second-largest search engine after Google and revolves entirely around video content.
Another professional portal, Xing has a global presence that facilitates the development of relationships between colleagues, suppliers and industry leaders.
Wanelo (WantNeedLove) is a social shopping app. Downloaded as an app, it allows users to browse millions of products offered by online retailers, independent artisans and major brands. A potential rival to Pinterest, it appeals to a similar demographic, has strong visual appeal and facilitates creation of wish lists, and establishment of connections. It is best poised for the online shopper demographic.
Ello is similar to Facebook and Tumblr; it allows establishment of connections, sharing of photos and other content, yet unlike its counterparts, it is against blatant advertising. It states a commitment to never include forced advertising, not to ever sell user information on to third parties.
Meetup is a social platform used to organise local interest groups. From music to book clubs and other hobbies, get-togethers are easy to facilitate and are open to newcomers with a common interest.
Shots is simplicity personified. It is designed almost exclusively for the sharing of selfies; it functions in a similar way to Snapchat, however rather than focusing on user privacy, its priority is user connection. It is small in the field of social media platforms at this point, but is poised to exponentially grow with the addition of a new feature or two.
Hyper is a unique platform that borrows ideas from other platforms, yet stands alone. It exists primarily to allow sharing of photos between users; an up-vote/down-vote system increases the visibility of those posts that prove to be most popular. Geographic tags alert users to local happenings. It is currently only available on iOS and as such has a small user base, but is predicted to grow enormously in the next year or two.
Owned by Twitter, Vine is a mobile video-sharing app. Videos can be embedded online on a website, or inline directly on to Twitter when shared via a tweet. Limited to no longer than six seconds, videos play on an auto-loop.
This blogging platform is particularly popular with teens and young adults. Strong in visual content, posts can be re-blogged and liked, and good content attracts remarkable numbers of followers. Fill blogs with memes, multimedia, GIFs, and other fun content. More than 110 million monthly users can’t be wrong.
The ultimate inspiration board, Pinterest has become a major player in the world of social media networks. It relies entirely on visual content, and is the fastest standalone site to ever achieve 10 million unique monthly visits; today that number stands at 250 million and continues to grow. Put simply, it is a visual feast for users, and content posted is not only shared widely across the platform, but beyond – on to other pages on Facebook and other social platforms, in blogs, and elsewhere across the internet.
This is a photo-sharing platform that savvy business owners can use to build brand awareness and to drive traffic to product pages on their website. Easy to use and with a clean interface, it is a valuable tool no matter what you are selling.
One of the fastest-growing apps available, Snapchat is extremely popular with teens and young users. Entirely mobile-based, is allows photos and videos to be shared – which then self-destruct or automatically delete after they have been viewed. Alternatively, content can be posted for a limited, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it time. It is fun and appealing.
MUST READ: See my blog on in the ins and outs of Snapchat and discover the benefits for business.
This is a newcomer to social media and is currently in the beta-testing stage – yet could well launch publicly in the coming months. Striving for simplicity above all, This is inspired by the notion that most social platforms have newsfeeds that are clogged and cluttered with trivial conversations, an overabundance of posts, and content that is generally insignificant. As a result, This aims to provide concise and valuable content, limiting users to sharing only one link a day, and thus improving the quality of each link. It will potentially be one of the most valuable and popular social media platforms for business in the coming years.
Want more? Here are some other social media platforms and points to take note of:
- Other platforms for social connection include (but are not limited to) Twoo, MyMFB, Renren, Disqus, WhatsApp, Viber, vk.com, Secret, Medium, Meerkat, Ning, Blab, Periscope…the list goes on.
- There is also an array of blogging platforms – offering tools to create blogs, which are critical to social media marketing and maintaining dynamic content on your business website. As well as the aforementioned Tumblr, there are also Vox, Xanga, Blogger, Joomla, Typepad, WordPress and Drupal.
- Create an online forum for engagement between members of your customer base – the best forum platforms include Drupal, Zoho, vBulletin, JavaBB and Lefora.
The overall concept of social networking is nothing new – humans have always sought to connect on some level or other. We used to send letters, listen to word-of-mouth referrals, shake hands and make voice calls. With the digital age, the opportunities for connection between people far and wide are exponentially enhanced – as this list of social media platforms demonstrates.
Clever marketers and business owners will understand the power of social media and use a targeted array of platforms to grasp opportunities, showcase their brands and to remain relevant in an ever-evolving business world.
Are you making these social media mistakes?
If you are you are, here’s how to avoid making these common social media marketing mistakes, which can quickly alienate your target customer base. Check out the biggest social media mistakes businesses make here.
Social media is a great tool for raising awareness, generating leads and boosting your business. There may well be more than 400 social media platforms, but if LinkedIn is your preferred social media channel, check out our free LinkedIn eCourse to help you get the most out of the platform for your business.