With more ways to connect than ever before, internet users now have access to a huge variety of well-established social media channels to interact with friends, make new contacts, or expand a business to a huge network of potential customers. Whether you’re attracted to the reach of Facebook or the conciseness of Twitter - there is likely a social media channel out there for you. But what exactly are the differences between them?
With the largest number of monthly active users (currently at 1.94billion for the first quarter of 2017), Facebook is sitting at the top of the social networking food chain, for both social and business usage. It allows users to share a ‘status update’ (piece of text), images or links to your personal profile of business page, which is then seen by any friends you have on there. Facebook is now being utilised by many businesses to grow their brand, by sharing posts that result in people interacting with them - via comments, likes, or shares. It is now also possible to promote posts of your business, which then appear to people not affiliated with your brand as ‘promoted’. Facebook has the largest reach out of all the social channels, and is a great place to start for all uses of social media.
Twitter is a more energetic, fast-moving platform than Facebook, with around 6,000 ‘tweets’ (short, 140 character updates) posted every second. It can provide a fast-track into a massive network of active communities, with most tweets being available to all users (unless they are specifically instructed not to be by the poster), and provides the ability to gain many ‘followers’ with more ease than other social media channels. Recently, Twitter began to offer the service ‘Twitter Ads’. This allows a business on Twitter to run advertising campaigns, unlocking the ability to schedule tweets, analyse patterns, and promote services. Some of these come at a cost, but results in your tweets being shown to many different people that aren’t necessarily following you, and possibly enlarging the amount of customers as a result.
Linkedin is all business. No, really - it is the only major social media channel that is solely professionals. Used by employers, employees, and job-hunters, Linkedin is a platform to promote yourself as a businessperson, with many profiles containing a CV. It allows direct contact with other professionals and potential clientele, and is a very lucrative network to get involved with. Much like Twitter, Linkedin provides an advertising service, where ads can be promoted, or delivered straight to users’ inboxes - all at a fee, obviously. Linkedin is definitely a platform that every professional businessperson should be active on, even if it is simply to network with other businesses you may be involved with.
Google’s answer to the current popular social media channels, Google+ is a platform integrated with all of Google’s services, but sets itself apart by giving more control over the people your content is shared with. Called ‘Circles’, Google+ enables the user to create various groups to share statuses with. This gives total transparency over where your content appears, allowing for targeted content creation. After purchasing many photo editing companies, Google+ now also offers fast, streamlined image services - including the instant upload and editing of images without the need for third-party software. Whilst relatively new in the social media timeline, Google+ already has millions of users, and has swiftly become one of the most active platforms to date.
Entirely centered around sharing videos, YouTube allows for vlogs (video blogs), music and any other form of video to be shared with every user on the site. It is relatively simple to access a wide audience with content, either through the ‘recommended’ feature, or by including tags in your description that will push your video higher in the ranking when included in a search. The recommended function shows videos you may like based off of your watch history, and is a way content creators’ videos may be spread with no effort at all. YouTube is currently the largest site that internet users access videos from, and is a must for any videographic content creators. Advertising can be done on YouTube, in which ads are played before any content wishing to be monetised. YouTube is a very effective platform for pushing out quality content to the masses, albeit a large audience must be reached to make a significant amount of profit.
These are simply a few of the wide variety of social media channels out there, but hopefully this gives an indication of how the main ones can be used to benefit you as an individual, or as a business. Social media advertising is a relatively new, but extremely effective method of pushing your brand out to the masses, and requires little more than effort and time for the benefits to show.