Social Media is nothing new, but different social media networks, how they operate and who’s using them is in constant flux. What’s popular today may not be tomorrow, and who you’re talking to may change quickly. Every network isn’t for every business, and it’s important to use your resources wisely; it would be a mistake to start using a new network only to realize your audience isn’t there and the page or profile isn’t worth your time to maintain. Here’s a high level overview of some of the top new and ever-changing social media networks, in order to begin determining where your audience may be located.
Reddit is a social news, content, and discussion platform. Before you get started on Reddit, be aware the platform usually isn’t very accepting of branded or promotional content in any manner. If this is home to your audience, something you should research before attempting to use this medium, there are a few things you can do. Reddit often hosts content in a format called an AMA, which stands for “ask me anything,” where experts join a live online chat and the audience can ask them anything. Don’t forget the keyword here is anything, meaning you have to be prepared to take the good questions with the kind of questions that may be out of your company’s worst nightmares.
If AMA isn’t your style, don’t forget content that isn’t overtly promotional but is based on entertaining your audience might be acceptable. Please read Reddit’s rules on promotion (https://www.reddit.com/wiki/selfpromotion) thoroughly before you post.
If you are looking to reach a young market Snapchat may be worth a try. Snapchat was originally a messaging app that mainly used pictures sent from other users, with a tiny amount of text, to communicate. Since then the platform has added a text messaging feature and expanded into short video sharing as well, similar to Vine (see below). Though the app is still largely used for messaging, the biggest addition to Snapchat—making it a good place for brands—are Snapchat stories, a collection of photos and videos that can be broadcast to the world or just your contacts. Many big brands are using the platform already. They use the platform to tell stories, provide live or behind the scenes access to events, create filters with their products or events and so on using Snapshat stories, filters, and much more.
As a quick note, with live streaming apps such a Periscope and Facebook Live (see below) you will receive more engagement with a similar effect, and will be able to reach a broader, possibly older, audience. Being highly effective with a younger audience is where Snapchat shines over live streaming platforms, making it an important network to be aware of, and more marketing potential may be coming soon.
Live streaming is nothing new—television news channels have been streaming news since the early days of broadcasting, and internet users have setup 24/7 access webcams since the early 90s. However, modern live streaming can be done by almost anyone with a mobile device. Two of the biggest and most well-known streaming platforms today are Facebook Live, which focuses on Facebook, and Periscope, which is owned by and integrates with Twitter. Live streaming is great for showcasing special events, live Q&As, sharing breaking news and to take inside looks into the culture of a brand. Best of all it’s free and easy to get started.
You can give users a chance to comment and react to your posts in real-time, however, just like with Reddit’s AMA platform, you have to be prepared for users of all types commenting on what you’re sharing. If you prefer it though, the feature can easily be turned off.
This platform started its life as a simple blogging platform, but it has morphed into something much greater through the use of images, videos, audio and GIFs. The newsfeed has in recent years become similar to Facebook, and brands utilize the platform for everything from advertising and entertainment to company blogs of high interest.
Something to remember is that this platform is highly based on entertainment and thus plays best in a B2C market. Its often silly-natured content may even be off-putting to your audience, depending on what you’re selling.
Medium is an online publishing platform, mainly focused on articles and blogging. There are a couple of big differences between Tumblr and Medium that you should be aware of. First, the platform is simplified, which eliminates a lot of the noise and silliness found on Tumblr. There are fewer options to customize, fewer types of content that are easy to embed and share and a simple white layout for the overall look and feel of the platform.
As you may have learned from Twitter, less can be more. With this clean minimalist format, users know what they’re getting. This makes searching, reading and understanding less of a struggle.
Though the hype around Vine has trailed off with the integration of GIFs and videos into most platforms, there is still a large, stable audience tuning in at the moment. Vine is a video platform for sharing short, bite-sized, six second looping videos. Again, this platform focuses on a younger audience in the B2C space. Since the videos need to be short on this platform, many brands have been breathing life back into stop motion videos and running fan competitions to generate fun content.
If you’ve never created short form content like this keep in mind it can be time consuming to setup anything worth viewing in the beginning. Also remember that vines, like tweets, have a very short lifespan.
The Time to Start Is Now
No matter what platforms you decide to use, understanding the basics and figuring out your resources is key to getting started. Chances are your audience is out there already using social media, now is the time to go out and find them before your competitors do.
These are just some of the bigger networks—there is whole world of social out there, if you have a very niche marketing or audience may be somewhere completely different. No one knows your audience like you do, and once you understand a network you’ll have a better idea of what and where to share. If your CMS isn’t already helping you in this effort—it should be. We wish you luck as you begin your social media journey.