Not all types of social media are the same. And we're not just talking about social media content. The broad category of "social media" is made up of many different types of social media networks designed to meet the varying interests that send people to social media to connect. While marketing and advertising on social media are nearly second nature these days, thanks to its effectiveness and cost-efficiency, learning more about the different types of social media will help you build better, more targeted social media marketing campaigns for your brand. This translates into more qualified leads, increased engagement with your brand, and earning more revenue.
In this article, we'll explore 7 different types of social media and how you can best leverage them as tools to advance your business. Before we get into that, though, let's take a look at why you should bother with social media anyway.
7 Types of Social Media to Promote Your Brand and Engage Your Followers:
Why Social Media Matters
Just as there are different types of social media, there are different reasons people are drawn to social media. The number one reason people are drawn to social media is a strong desire to make connections with others who feel and think the way they do. A close second: social media gives people the chance to express themselves creatively.
For marketers and influencers, social media gives us the opportunity to generate leads, increase traffic to our websites and other platforms, and generally increase brand awareness and recall. When people are just starting out with social media marketing, they tend to think that they have to maintain an active presence across all social media platforms. Not only would that be a near impossibility given the sheer number of social media platforms there are today, but it's not even advisable to try since different demographics tend to be attracted to different types of social media and different platforms. It's best for marketing to choose the platforms where your target audience hangs out and devote your time to building communities just on those platforms.
Social media also gives marketers the chance to communicate directly with the customers they're trying to reach. You can use social media to provide customer support, educate potential and existing customers on how to use your products, and keep them up to date on sales and special events. Our goal here is to give you the information you need about the different types of social media so you can make an informed decision about which platforms are right for you and your brand.
7 Types of Social Media
Let's take a closer look at the 7 most popular types of social media and how you can use them to connect with customers, build a community, and grow your business. While this list doesn't include all possible types of social media, those included here are the most common and the most popular meaning your target audience will be well-represented among them.
1. Social Networks
Social networks are what people typically think of when they think about social media. It makes sense—our experience largely revolves around platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Social networks are platforms that help people connect, not only with each other but with the brands they're interested in. Users on social networks regularly share their thoughts with their networks, create and join groups of like-minded people, share content they think their networks will enjoy, and more.
For brands, social networks present an opportunity to reach their target audience through both organic and paid content as well as through influencer relationships. Using their position on these platforms, brands can learn more about their target audience or even use social listening tools to find out how their target audience feels about their brand and its competitors. All of this information can help brands build a stronger presence that will attract their target audience.
With more than 2.8 billion monthly active users, Facebook is the most popular social network. Most people use Facebook to connect with family and friends as well as keep tabs on the brands that they like. Since Facebook prioritized content from users' family and friends in 2018, reach for organic content from brands has slowly decreased, but Facebook also has a powerful advertising platform that can help brands reach their target audience without spending tons of money on Facebook ads.
Twitter is another popular social network with more than 330 million monthly active users. While Twitter users also share their thoughts, photos and videos, and many of the same things that Facebook users do, Twitter users have to do it in 280 characters. To get around this limitation, many users will create threads where each tweet is linked and followers can read the entire train of thought without Twitter's algorithm splitting it up on them. Like Facebook, Twitter also has an advertising platform. Unlike Facebook, Twitter's reach and engagement has actually increased over the past couple of years, making it a great place for thought leaders and industry influencers to share their knowledge.
2. Image, Video, and Media Sharing Networks
Image sharing networks are social media platforms where people share photos, videos, and other content. The content on these sites tends to be more creative than that on social media networks. Brands can use this type of social media to reach new customers, connect with influencers to promote their products and collect user-generated content that they can use as social proof to inspire trust in their products and advertise their brand.
Image, video, and media sharing networks like Instagram and YouTube tend to be popular across several different age demographics making them the perfect option for most brands. And, since many people are visual learners, these platforms give brands another way to reach people with their message. This type of social media also has an excellent ROI and solid audience engagement.
YouTube is one of the most popular media sharing networks with more than 2 billion monthly logged-in users. It's also the second-largest search engine in the world (after Google). If video content is your thing, YouTube is the best channel for it. There are also tons of YouTube influencers you can connect with the help promote your brand.
With more than 1 billion monthly active users, Instagram is another media sharing platform with a broad reach. Instagram is perfect for promoting your products and service through visual representation and providing insight into your brand personality. Like most social media platforms, Instagram offers advertising options that brands can use to increase reach and engagement of their marketing messages.
3. Blogging and Publishing Networks
Blogs have long been the most popular type of online content with more than 500 million blogs in the world with authors that publish more than 2 million blog posts every day. Blogs are so prolific because they work. Content marketing relies heavily on SEO to get websites ranked higher in search engine results and that effort is rewarded. Pages that show up in the top three positions on search engine results pages enjoy click-through rates of about 12% (for the third placement) to more than 30% (for results in the number one spot). After the third spot, CTR drops off dramatically to under 2%. In other words, it pays to be on top of the search engine results. Many brands target important keywords relevant to their products and services by creating blog content that educates users about how to use their products. Social blogging networks like Tumblr and Medium increase brand awareness and visibility as well as generating leads but they do require a bit more effort than other types of social media.
4. Review Networks
Review networks show customer reviews of businesses. Simple enough. Customer reviews are beneficial to brands because they will help you identify what you're doing right to make your customers happy and where you can improve. Plus, positive reviews are wonderful social proof that inspires confidence in your brand and encourages potential customers to trust you. Even negative reviews can have a positive impact on your business if you handle them quickly to solve customer problems and address concerns.
Perhaps the most popular review network is Yelp. Yelp has more than 178 million unique users every month across different platforms (mobile, desktop, and apps). The platform lets users search for a business to find out what others have to say about it. Since businesses can't remove or change reviews (not even by throwing money at them) so the platform gives customers an accurate overview of a business. Yelp is worth keeping an eye on to find out what your customers think of your business.
Discussion networks and forums are other popular types of social media. Users on these platforms regularly ask questions and share their own insights and opinions on a broad range of topics, making these networks an excellent source for conducting market research. Brands can also leverage these platforms to increase credibility and authority and drive traffic to their website by answering questions related to their industry. While many discussion networks don't allow direct promotion, brands can still provide answers to questions and provide links to relevant information that will be of use to those seeking answers on a topic. Two of the most popular discussion networks are Reddit and Quora.
Reddit has more than 430 million monthly users, putting it ahead of Twitter in terms of the number of users. The platform is made up of millions of communities called "subreddits," only about 138,000 of which are considered to be active. Brands can use Reddit to keep track of what people are talking about related to their industry, brand, and competitors as well as learn more about concerns and questions customers and potential customers have.
Quora is a bit different from Reddit but is still a powerful discussion network with more than 300 million active users per month. Quora users post questions on the platform that other Quora users can then answer. Brands can specify their expertise to get immediate updates whenever a question is asked that's related to them. It's a great way to build authority, gain exposure, and connect with the people who are actively asking questions that you have the answer to.
6. Social Shopping Networks
These days, many social media platforms have some element of eCommerce tied to them. Social shopping makes it easy for consumers to stay up-to-date on their favorite brands and make purchases. Social shopping works really well for businesses, helping them drive sales by using social media as part of their marketing funnels. From shoppable posts on Instagram to the pure social commerce experience of Pinduoduo, social commerce is becoming increasingly popular. If you're looking for ways to leverage social commerce, check out these social shopping networks.
7. Content Curation Sites
Content curation and bookmarking sites help consumers find, share, save, and chat about a broad range of trending topics. Pinterest is probably the most popular content curation site, but Flipboard and Pocket fall into this category, too. Brands using this type of social media can expect increased brand awareness, more website traffic, and better customer engagement.
More than 400 million users flock to Pinterest each month with the goal of finding DIY ideas, recipes, planning their dream weddings, and learning more about the products they're interested in. Since 95% of the top searches on Pinterest don't reference a specific brand, this is a great platform for lesser-known brands to get their products in front of the people who want to find them.
Social media gives brands a great chance to grow their reach, get more leads, and increase their income. And, with all the different types of social media out there, any size of business can find the right social media platforms to meet their needs. Do some research before making a commitment to find out what types of social media (and which social media platforms) are most popular with your target audience. Then, focus your attention on those platforms, taking the time to create a mix of organic and paid content to reach your audience.