Did you know that your customers are spending an average of 2.5 hours each day on over 400 social media platforms? It’s so easy to get caught up thinking about the “Big 5” (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn), but in reality, there are many other social media sites and apps that you can use for reaching your audience.
It is important to have a presence on the biggest social networking platforms, but you might end up having the most impact on sites that aren’t nearly as saturated as the big players and that appeal more directly to your target audience.
Choosing the Best Social Media Platforms for your Brand
Before we dive into the list, let’s review some best practices for choosing the right social media platforms for your brand. As you analyse different platforms remember to:
● Keep your customer profile in mind. What does your customer look like? What are things important to them? Where are they spending their time online? How will you advertise to them?
● Take stock of the resources you have at your disposal. Do you have lots of cash to plow into online advertising? Do you have plenty of time to create content? Are you more visually – oriented or do you prefer to write?
● Consider the merits of each platform individually and collectively. How many people can you potentially reach by focusing on platform X? What if you have a strategy that combines efforts on platform X and platform Y? Where will you be the most effective?
● Think about the longevity of each platform. Is this particular site/app here to stay or is it likely to fizzle out? Is the site/app gaining new users and generating buzz, or are users abandoning it in favor of something better?
● Analyse your costs. How much does it cost to generate sales via platform X? How does that compare to platform Y?
Figuring out where to focus your social media efforts should be a strategic decision — you want to make sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck!
Personal Networking Sites
Almost all social media sites have a networking element, but the sites below are primarily known for helping people connect and stay in touch:
Facebook: One of the largest social networking websites in the world with nearly 2 billion users. Facebook allows for written content, video content, live streaming, community groups and pages, event creation and more.
MySpace: Known for being one of the original social networking sites, MySpace is used for networking and friendships. More than 30 million people have profiles on the platform.
Classmates: This networking website is used to connect former schoolmates and community members. More than 50 million people use this service.
Tumblr: This microblogging and photography platform has nearly 227 million registered users that range in age from teens to older adults. The site allows for compelling visual storytelling in a clean, easy-to-read format.
Meetup: Meetup facilitates in-person events. Users can form communities and host paid as well as unpaid events that local community members can attend.
Foursquare: This social media site allows you to connect with people in a specific geographical area. The platform currently has around 20 million active users.
LinkedIn: This social media site emphasizes business and professional networking. Millions of individuals and businesses use the site regularly.
Reddit: As one of the original internet forums, Reddit has a staggering number of users that discuss millions of unique topics each month.
Snapchat: This photo and video-based chatting platform has hundreds of millions of users and is particularly popular with young users.
Twitter: With its breaking news style feed, Twitter draws in hundreds of millions of active users who want to share interesting tidbits of information with followers
Niche Social Media Sites
The platforms below are geared toward people with specific interests. Gaining brand recognition on one of these platforms can be an excellent way to connect with a targeted audience:
Flickr: Flickr is a photo – sharing community for photography enthusiasts.
Primarily a visual platform, Flickr has a worldwide audience of 32 million
DeviantArt: This worldwide art community brings together 26 million artists and art enthusiasts. Members share paintings, drawings, sculptures and other works of art and can give and receive feedback through the platform.
Yelp: Yelp is a business site primarily focused on reviews and descriptions of local businesses in a given area.
SoundCloud: Geared toward music enthusiasts, SoundCloud has a massive repository of music created and uploaded by users around the world. Users can share original works with an audience of 10 million plus subscribers.
Goodreads: This social community was built with bookworms in mind. Reading enthusiasts can share, rate and review their favourite books and network with a user base of more than 13 million people.
Academia.edu: This social networking site is geared toward academics and researchers. Upwards of 18 million people contribute to the platform.
WAYN: This travel-oriented social networking site has 10 million active users.
Couchsurfing: Geared toward budget and adventure travelers, Couchsurfing is a platform that allows travelers to find free places to stay. More than 2 million people use this site to travel.
Gaia Online: This community is filled with gamers and anime enthusiasts. More than 23 million people actively use this website.
In a world where we’re easily distracted and movingfast, these visual platforms are particularly powerful:
Pinterest: this image-driven platform allows people to share and save the things they love. More than 250 million people use this site consistently.
Instagram: With over a billion active users, Instagram is the premier social media platform for photo sharing.
We Heart It: This platform is an image-driven site with more than 20 million active users.
Remember, there are more than 400 social networking sites worldwide, and new ones are popping up constantly. To figure out which platforms are best for your business, you’ll need to do some research to find out where your followers are spending their time.
How Does Social Media Influence Us?
Social media has more of an effect on us than we think. Just consider these statistics:
● Social media forms habits. More than 50 percent of Facebook users visit the site daily, 12 percent of users visit the site multiple times per day, and 40 percent of users don’t mind if they’re interrupted by a social media message
● Compared to the average internet user, social media users are nearly 50 percent more likely to spend money on clothing and accessories. They are also nearly 20 percent more likely to spend time in the gym and nearly 30 percent more likely to share their opinions on current events.
● Cumulatively hundreds of millions of people follow influencers (thought leaders on social media platforms who have garnered popularity through their online presence).
It’s clear that social media has an impact on people’s behavior as well as day to day life. People monitor social sites closely to keep on top of trends, to see what’s happening locally as well as globally, to keep up with friends and family members and to feel connected with others. Social media also influences purchasing decisions and increases brand awareness — this is why businesses are so eager to strengthen their online presence!
How Will Social Media Change in the Future?
Social media is still a relatively new concept, but it’s constantly evolving. New platforms crop up, and old ones die off, internet access is ubiquitous worldwide and people of all ages and walks of life can find social media sites that appeal to them.
As technology becomes more sophisticated and user tastes change, experts say that social media will consist of elements beyond images and text. We already see this with Facebook lives, video streaming, Instagram and Facebook stories, and other recent changes. Analysts also predict that a higher emphasis will be placed on two-way communication and relationships instead of one-sided posts and images. Premium options will also become increasingly popular–users will be able to escape advertisements and irrelevant content by paying for an elevated experience and will have the option to store the memories they create online in a clean and accessible format.
Experts also predict that grouping–or filtering friends and family members into different groups so that only segments of your followers are exposed to certain posts–
will become more popular. People want to express their opinions without alienating friends and family freely, and groups allow them to have a “safe space”.
Lastly, we’ve already seen a trend toward social media consumption awareness with new tools that allow you to track and limit time spent on social media. However, analysts expect these features will become even more popular as people try to approach social media in moderation. Social media presents unbelievable opportunities for conscientious brands that can connect and engage with their followers. As you craft a social media strategy for your brand, don’t forget to look beyond the basics to connect with the people you need and want to reach.
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