• Richard Rainey

Demystifying Types of Social Media - Which platforms will bring you more customers in 2020?

Since the early 2000’s, the percentage of US adults who use social media increased from 5% to 79% in 2019[1]. Social media has changed the world. The rapid and fast adoption of these technologies is changing how we find partners, how we find businesses, how we access information from news, and how we organize to demand political change.

Facebook, the largest social media platform in the world, has 2.4 billion users[2]. Other social media platforms like YouTube and WhatsApp also have more than one billion users each. Although many social media messages look like traditional broadcasts from one business to many consumers, their interactive component offers an enticing illusion of one-to-one communication that invites individual readers to respond.

It’s important to know that tried-and-true strategies of marketing are still valid. Solving customer’s problems and answering the question “what’s in it for me?” still form the base of marketing. Social media marketing is just a new technique.

When considering what social media platform you want to advertise on, you need to look at your customer demographics[3]. For example, if you are a company that offers services to groups of people in the 65+ age bracket, you should really focus on Facebook rather than Instagram. Only 8% of US adults 65+ use Instagram while 48% of the same group use Facebook. Don’t spend your dollars on platforms that are not going to give your business a return on that marketing investment.

Different Types of Social Media Services

Social Content Sharing Services

These services facilitate posting and commenting on text, videos, photos, and podcasts[4].

Social Networking Services

Originally developed to facilitate the exchange of personal information (messages, photos, video, and audio) to groups of friends and family, these full-featured services offer multiple functions[5]. From a business point of view, many social-networking services support subgroups that offer the potential for more targeted marketing. Common types of social-networking services include:

  • Full Networks: Facebook and MeetMe. Many businesses use Facebook and other services to build its grand and enhance community relations.

  • Short Message Networks: Twitter is often used for news, announcements, events, sales notices, and promotions.

  • Professional Networks: LinkedIn and small profession-specific networks. Many businesses utilize LinkedIn as a way to attract new employees by posting announcements and company news.

  • Specialty Networks: Creates unique content such as Q&A network Quora, or that operate within a vertical industry, demographic, or activity segment, as opposed to by profession or job title.

Social Bookmarking Services

Similar to private bookmarks for your favorite sites on your PC, social bookmarks are publicly viewable lists of sties that others have recommended[6].

  • Recommendation Services such as Mix

  • Social-shopping services such as Wanelo

Social News Services

On these peer-based lists of recommended articles from news sites, blogs, or web pages, users often vote on the value of the postings[7]. This may be services like Digg or Reddit.

Social Geolocation and Meeting Services

These services bring people together in real space like rather than in cyberspace. Apps like Foursquare, Meetup, and other GPS applications.

Community Building Services

Many comment- and content-sharing sites have been around for a long time, such as forums, message boards, and Yahoo! And Google groups. Apps like Ning, Wikipedia, TripAdvisor, and Yelp.

Final Thoughts

As you surf the web, you can find hundreds of social tools, apps, and widgets. All of them help monitor, distribute, search, analyze, and rank content. Many are specific to a particular social network. Others are designed to aggregate information across the social media landscape, including such monitoring tools like Google Alerts, Mention.net, or Social Mention, or such distribution tools as RSS.


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