With Facebook claiming 1.4bn users and a typical user spending 2.4hrs per day on Social Media sites, it would be fair to expect a monopoly or oligopoly of Social Platforms dominating the space.
But that’s not entirely true.
Having huge players like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest in the Social media spectrum hasn’t deterred others from entering the market to offer their own platforms. These aren’t, “me too” businesses, these are typically platforms for specific audiences or for a specific purpose.
Many users enjoy profiles on multiple platforms, in addition to their Facebook or Twitter accounts.
Seemingly to escape the view of parents, teens are flocking to alternative social platforms such as Snapchat and Whatsapp. Tumblr, with a focus on images and also holds some attraction for teens, particularly those with a more creative flair and those needing more space for public expression.
Instagram also counts teens among its growing user base. Mixed in with the inevitable selfies and pictures of food, expect some stunning photography from some of the more popular accounts.
Recently launched Natter is materially similar to Twitter. You follow, reshare, favourite and reply. There are hashtags and @mentions too.
What sets Natter apart is nano-blogging. Where Twitter has a mediocre 140 character limit, Natter allows just three words. Every post has to be three words along with an optional user mention and one hashtag.
Early adopters aren’t techies like other platforms. There’s a lot of banter and good fun, trending hashtags and some word games from time to time.
Three words is harder work than you might think.0
Rapidly growing Pinterest boasts the highest spend per click from its users, far outweighing that from Facebook and Twitter.
Keen to extract itself from the space, Pinterest has been quoted as saying that it isn’t a Social Platform. That’s fair comment. Whilst there is an opportunity to comment on shared pins and to mention users, this happens rarely in comparison to other Social Platforms – re-pinning is common though and there are some boards which are open to multiple users to pin to.
With Pinterest Promoted Pins coming soon to the UK, expect Pinterest to be a powerful social platform for visual products including fashion, home and garden, and for service businesses too.
We’ve posted many times before about Google+, the press’ favourite social whipping-boy.
Google’s social layer has a fantastic, much more engaged community than other platforms can boast, with the quality and depth of discussion typically far greater than can be found on Facebook or Twitter.
What Google+ lacks in quantity (“my friends aren’t there!”), it more than makes up for in quality, with some amazing niche communities and extremely supportive, unpaid network and community champions.
It’s fair to say that Google+ is also among the leaders in the functionality stakes, with Hangouts On Air, limited group sharing, post formatting and a range of other functions including Collections which work in a similar way to Pinterest Boards.
With its seamless connections to Google Reviews (social proof), Google Local Listings and the perceived SEO benefits of Google+, this isn’t a platform that businesses should dismiss lightly.
Fantastic for B2B (Business to Business) Marketing, LinkedIn provides a rapidly-changing array of functionality way beyond the “Facebook for Business” title it enjoyed in the early days.
Beyond a great LinkedIn profile or business page which will help you get found on LinkedIn, LinkedIn Groups can provide some great opportunities for networking, engaging and sharing content.
Posting regularly to LinkedIn will help to increase the reputation your brand and build personal relationships with those you’ve already connected with. Don’t just broadcast though – LinkedIn is still a social platform! It’s as important to listen, respond and engage as it is to broadcast your latest blog post or a client you just won.
LinkedIn also has a powerful Pay per Click advertising opportunity. The targeting on LinkedIn offers opportunities not available on other platforms and, depending on your target audience, could be the perfect PPC campaign opportunity to increase the reach of your content and your brand within a specific audience.
Which Social Platforms Should You Invest Your Time In?
Doing a great job on one platform is far more effective than doing a poor job on all of them.
Businesses often feel pressure to be on all social platforms because they hear such great success stories, but that almost always leads to poor returns across the board.
The truth is that provided your target audience is using the platform, it really doesn’t matter where you invest your Social Media time – results are achieved through the platform, not because of it.
The results are achieved with your content and your personality (whether you’re an individual or a brand), not because one platform has cooler functionality or more reach.
I’ve posted before about why I don’t use LinkedIn as much as I should – I have some gripes with the functionality. That’s not to say that LinkedIn isn’t the right platform for our business – LinkedIn is great for creating relationships and reputation, I’ve just developed a stronger social habit on Google+.
Understand your audience. Establish where they spend more time. Commit to that platform and measure the results before adding another platform.