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What is Social Media, Features, Types and Top 5 Social Media Platforms

What is Social Media, Features, Types and Top 5 Social Media Platforms

Table of Contents

What is social media?

Social media is any digital platform that allows users to instantly generate and share material with the world. This includes a wide range of websites and apps. Some, such as Twitter, specialize in exchanging links and brief written messages. Others, such as Instagram and TikTok, are designed to optimize photo and video sharing.

Social media is distinct since it is both extensive and mostly unrestricted. There are significantly fewer restrictions on what someone can share on social media than there are with other forms of mass communication like newspapers, radio stations, and television channels, even though many companies do impose some restrictions—such as removing images that depict violence or nudity.

Anyone with an internet connection can create a social media account. They can use that account to share any kind of content they choose, and everyone who views their page or profile will see it.

How social media works?

The purpose of these technologies also differs because social media encompasses so many various kinds of websites and applications. On most social media platforms, a user must first create a profile by typically entering their name and email address.

Users can produce and share content after creating a profile. For instance, a brand-new Instagram user can take a photo and upload it with a caption on their profile. Social media users can identify other users whose content they want to follow or comment on in addition to providing content for their own profiles. A user may “follow” another user, “add” them as a “friend,” or “subscribe” to another person’s page depending on the form of social media.

The “feeds” that social media platforms frequently use let users navigate through content. Social media businesses utilise algorithms to choose the material that displays and the sequence in which it does so depending on a user’s profile data. Content from “followed” users as well as from companies who pay to advertise their content will be included in the feed.

Common Social Media Features

The following list of typical characteristics can often be used to identify social networking websites. If you’re unsure whether a website fits into the social category or not, try looking for at least one of these characteristics.

  • Personal User Account

A website may be used for user-based interaction of some kind, such as social engagement if it allows visitors to create their own accounts that they can log into. Although it is possible to share information or communicate with others online anonymously, it is more typical and conventional to first create a user account.

  • User Profile Pages

Since social media is all about communication, it’s frequently vital to represent a person and give them a place to develop their own unique brand through a profile page. It frequently contains details about each member, such as a profile picture, bio, website, feed of most recent posts, suggestions, most recent activity, and more.

  • Friends, followers, groups, hashtags and so on

Individuals connect with other users through their accounts. Additionally, they can utilize them to subscribe to specific informational forms.

  • Newsfeeds

On social media, users essentially state, “I want to get information from these people,” when they connect with other users. Through their news feed, they receive real-time updates on that information.

Personalized Settings

Social networking platforms typically provide users the freedom to personalize their user settings, alter the appearance of their accounts, arrange their friends and followers, control the news feeds they get, and even express their preferences.

  • User Notifications

Any website or application that alerts people to specific information is undoubtedly participating in social media. Users have complete control over these notifications and can select the notifications they want to receive.

  • Information Updating, saving and posting

A website or app is social if it allows you to post anything, with or without a user account! Anything from a straightforward text message to a picture upload to a YouTube video to a link to an article could be included.

  • Like and Comments

The ‘like’ buttons on social media sites and comment areas where we may express ourselves are two of the most popular ways we communicate.

  • Review, Rating and Voting

Besides liking and commenting, lots of social sites and apps rely on the collective effort of the community to review, rate and vote on information that they know about or have used. Think of your favourite shopping sites or movie review sites that use this social media feature.

Types of social media

Businesses and marketers search for various Social Media networks that they can use to target and convert their consumers as a result of the popularity and effectiveness of Social Media Channels. In this session, we’ll delve deeply into all the many SMM networks that may maximize your brand’s online visibility and reach.

  • Social Networking Websites

Social networking websites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are familiar to the majority of us. We can connect with friends, family, and brands through these channels. They promote knowledge exchange and emphasize close, one-on-one communication. A social networking site can do everything. Users can engage in vibrant debates, curate information, submit photographs and videos, form groups based on interests, and share their ideas. They are designed with the user, their priorities, and their social networks in mind. In addition, they assist us in calculating the social media ROI, which facilitates the development of powerful marketing plans.

  • Social Review Websites

What is one of the first steps you take when making travel or purchasing plans? If you’re like us, you’ll immediately look at the reviews.

Reviews from the public are displayed on review websites like Yelp and TripAdvisor for a variety of locations and activities. This takes a lot of the guesswork out of making a restaurant or hotel reservation. You’re unsure if it’s the best move for you. Look at the reviews to find out.

Businesses can profit greatly from reading customer evaluations, both positive and negative ones.

  • Image Sharing Websites

Our hearts, eyes, and imaginations are captured by visual content like pictures, infographics, and illustrations. The purpose of social media sites like Instagram, Imgur, and Snapchat is to increase the impact of image sharing.

Users produce, collect, and share distinctive images that provoke thought and stand on their own. For your business, a picture might be worth a thousand words.

  • Video Sharing Websites

YouTube completely changed the way we consume, produce, and approach video. It altered the medium to make it more approachable. Video has progressed further thanks to recent advancements in connectivity and technology.

Creators may put together material and publish it to a platform designed for streaming thanks to platforms like YouTube and Vimeo. Video is a essential media because it is so easily accessible.

  • Community Blogging Websites

Not everyone on the internet wants to operate a blog from a self-hosted website, but there are instances when an image or article isn’t complicated enough for the message you need to express. That takes a lot of effort.

Shared blogging sites like Medium and Tumblr provide a forum for expression and link writers with readers.

These neighborhood blog platforms give users an audience while giving them lots of personalization and self-expression options.

  • Discussion Websites

While most of us have witnessed numerous tense debates take place on Facebook, discussion platforms like Reddit and Quora are made explicitly to start a dialogue. Everyone has the freedom to express themselves, which draws people with similar interests and curiosities. However, users on Instagram and Facebook prefer to give away less personally identifiable information.

  • Sharing economy networks

Websites like Airbnb and Rover are useful resources for more than just finding affordable vacation apartments or a pet sitter. Networks for the sharing economy connect those with resources they want to share with those in need. By combining resources in a way that wouldn’t be conceivable without technology, these communities offer opportunities that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.

What are the advantages of social media? – Importance of Social Media

You have fantastic potential to expand your business using social media. The use of social media marketing has the following advantages.

  1. You connect to huge audiences

Social media sites are used by millions of users. It’s a fantastic chance for your company to get in front of lots of potential customers that are interested in your goods or services.

A major benefit of social media is its capacity to reach vast audiences. It makes it easier for your company to locate additional leads who are interested in your goods or services.

  1. You have been in direct contact with your viewers

One of the few marketing techniques that enables you to communicate directly with your audience is social media. You are aware of those that are interested in your company since they choose to follow you on these platforms.

A wonderful strategy to enhance your entire marketing plan is to establish a direct relationship with your audience. You will gain knowledge from your followers and be better able to modify your social media approach to suit their requirements.

  1. You may produce organic content

An amazing feature of social media for businesses is the possibility to post organic content for free. This presents numerous free options for your business to get in touch with quality leads. One of the main motives for why businesses adore employing these platforms is this.

To keep your audience interested, you can submit as much stuff as you like.

Depending on this network, these platforms let you publish photographs, videos, and more.

  1. You can use services for paid advertisements

You have the choice to run paid adverts if you want to do more than just post organically. Every social media network has a unique type of sponsored advertising available. Depending on your platform, your social media advertising capabilities will change.

Paid adverts give your company the chance to get in touch with prospects who are interested but haven’t found you yet. You can customize your ads on social media platforms so that they show up in the feeds of users who are interested in your goods and services.

  1. You establish your brand

Having the potential to develop your brand is one benefit of SMM. You introduce your brand to prospective leads when you connect with them. You may repeatedly increase audience brand identification by posting organic content for free.

This increases support for a brand. People get more familiar with your brand the more they are exposed to it. Because customers are more likely to purchase from brands they are familiar with, brand familiarity eventually results in higher conversions.

  1. You drive traffic to your website

Social media is a fantastic way to increase website traffic for your company. You can post content with a link to your website on the majority of social networking sites. You can encourage your viewers to click the link if you produce engaging content. This points them to your website so they can find out more about your company there. They can look at your website to find out more about your offerings.

  1. You can measure your performance

The capability to evaluate your success is the final benefit of social media marketing. You always want to know how a marketing campaign is doing when you run one. You can easily track your campaign on social media networks to determine whether it is producing worthwhile results.

You can control how many people view, like, share, and comment on your posts. You may also check metrics for any advertising campaigns you may run. Metrics like impressions, clicks, and conversions will be displayed.

You can refine and enhance your social media plan to provide greater outcomes when you can assess how well it is working.

  1. Social networking networks are free to join

One of the most significant advantages of social media marketing is that it is completely free to begin. There are no signup costs on any of the major platforms, so the only investment you’ll need to make is time.

Having said that, most social media platforms offer paid advertising choices. These can be terrific tools for increasing your following and reaching more users, but they are not required for businesses.

What are the disadvantages of Social Media?

There are always drawbacks to any marketing strategy. The downsides do not imply that the method is ineffective; rather, they represent potential roadblocks you may encounter during your campaign. Here are a few disadvantages:

  1. You might get some negative reviews

Social media is used by people to share things they enjoy as well as negative ones. If a customer has a bad experience with your company, it gives them the chance to tell other customers about it.

This unfavorable commentary takes many different shapes. Someone can submit a bad review and share their bad experience on your page on social media sites like Facebook. The next time someone checks out your company, they’ll glance at the reviews and see the unfavorable comments.

  1. Your campaigns must consume a lot of your time

Social media marketing isn’t a one-and-done kind of strategy. On these platforms, you must continuously produce fresh material, publish it, and interact with your audience. The time commitment required by social media for businesses is a major disadvantage.

Finding time to post content, watch it, interact with people, and assess its effectiveness all require a delicate balance. It could be a difficult task if you lack the resources.

  1. You need to wait for the results

Companies expect quick returns on their marketing strategy investments. You want to be sure that your plans are effective and that your time was well spent making the investment. You don’t get immediate benefits from social media marketing.

The total success of the campaign is what determines whether social media marketing is successful. The success of your campaign is not determined by one piece of content that you post. To truly assess the effectiveness of your campaign, you must publish a variety of content over time.

  1. You allow the possibility of embarrassment

Social media makes it simple for posts to gain popularity. People closely monitor both positive and negative social media activity. If you don’t exercise caution while posting content, you risk making your firm look bad and landing in uncomfortable circumstances.

For instance, the hashtag “WhyIStayed” was formerly popular on social media. This hashtag encouraged domestic violence victims to share their experiences. The hashtag became a catalyst for conversations about abusive relationships after taking social media by storm.

What is a social media marketing (SMM)

Social media marketing is the process of producing content for social media websites to advertise your goods and/or services, foster community among your target market, and increase customer traffic. Social media marketing is continuously changing as new features and platforms appear every day.

The goal of social media marketing is to reach your target market and customers where they are, in the context of their social interactions with one another and your business.

As you’ll see in the next section, SMM as a whole is very helpful and helps your business expand, but your strategy will change depending on which social networks your audience uses most frequently.

How to do social media marketing

Even though social media is continuously changing, the majority of the essential measures you must do to succeed remain the same. In essence, you are using the same actions you would take to develop a marketing plan and focus it on a certain channel.

To help you start using these processes in your business, let’s go through them in more detail.

  • Do some audience and buyer persona research

To effectively target your audience’s requirements and interests, you must first identify your buyer personas and audience in order to develop a SMM strategy.

For this, consider the audience you’re attempting to reach, why, and how you would categorize them as a group.

You’ll then be able to decide what material will entice the kind of followers and consumers you aim to achieve by taking into account your buyer personas and audience.

  • Choose the social media channels where you’ll market

You must choose the platforms on which you’ll post your content if you want to succeed as a social media marketer. Which social media platforms your company should use is a decision that should be made more in light of the needs of your target market and where they prefer to spend their time.

According to Andrew Delaney, a former social media marketing manager at HubSpot, it’s crucial to be present in both the places where your audience of potential customers is right now and where they might be tomorrow. “Being on the cutting edge is preferable to being behind.”

  • Decide on your most crucial KPIs and indicators

Data should drive your social media approach regardless of your objectives or sector. That requires concentrating on the crucial SM indicators. Investigate data that is in line with your objectives rather than concentrating on vanity metrics.

  • Learn about your competitors

A competitive analysis enables you to understand the competition’s identity and strengths (and not so well). You’ll have a solid understanding of what is typical in your field, which will help you define your own SM goals. You’ll be better able to recognise opportunities.

Perhaps one of your rivals dominates Facebook but hasn’t invested much time on Twitter or Instagram. Instead of attempting to steal viewers from a strong player, you could prefer to concentrate on the networks where your niche is underserved.

  • Make compelling, original content

There is little doubt that some of your followers or those who are browsing your profile have already seen content from your competitors or other companies in your field given the billions of SM users there are worldwide.

Because of this, you need to create interesting social media material that sticks out and gives users a reason to interact with your business by clicking the “Follow” button.

Think about the content your competitors are providing and how you might distinctively advertise your products as a way to spark your creativity. Utilize the capabilities that the platform you are utilizing offers as well.

Additionally, you may use your present clients and advocates as content creators. This can be accomplished by reposting their material or by urging people to utilize a hashtag to share their testimonials and images of their use of your goods.

Lastly, trends in leverage. There are constantly new social media trends emerging, particularly on short-form video platforms like TikTok. Don’t be afraid to participate, but make sure your participation is intentional.

  • Organize a posting schedule

The usage of a social media management solution is one of the simplest ways to guarantee that your material is spread as intended. You may create images and videos, make captions, and schedule postings using these tools. Additionally, they automatically share your material according to a timetable and keep an eye on all comments and activities for you. Solutions for managing social media give you time back and let you concentrate on other responsibilities.

Here are a few instances of the several accessible solution alternatives.

      1. Hootsuite
      2. HubSpot
      3. Sprout Social

What is Social Media Optimization (SMO)

The process of spreading more information about a product, brand, or event via social media is known as social media optimization (SMO). SMO includes identifying the images, text, hashtags, and links that will appeal to an account’s followers the most.

You must consider social networks’ recent, astounding expansion when trying to comprehend SMO. Companies who recognize the potential of social media platforms like Instagram, where 80% of profiles follow at least one brand account, are increasingly investing in them.

There is a side effect as a result of these channels becoming essential components of content marketing strategies used globally. Production levels for content were reaching astronomical heights. It becomes challenging to create unique and pertinent postings for the persona as a result.

What matters is that Google has modified its algorithm to take into account your page’s interaction as a ranking factor in response to the growing trend of business spending on these platforms.

This means that in addition to using classic SEO strategies, content creators now must produce content that consistently outperforms their rivals in terms of likes and shares. Social media optimization was created to address this.

Important Factors for Social Media Optimization

The following elements directly affect how content is created and subsequently tuned to increase views, engagements, and conversions:

  1. The term “optimized” content refers to material that combines both original (written by your business) and curated content (created by someone else).
  2. Content that has received views and interaction in the past. Examples include quick films, pictures and infographics, as well as amusing blog pieces that are pertinent.
  3. strategic customer engagement This includes posting information during peak viewing hours, responding quickly to issues or complaints, and engaging with clients on social media as necessary.
  4. Being aware of analytics. Businesses can determine whether material is succeeding or failing by using data on website performance, sponsored social ads, or likes and comments. This information enables them to move forward with successful campaigns or stop unsuccessful ones.

How to optimize Social Media Content

Utilizing social media networks and tactics correctly and routinely monitoring the effectiveness of social material are all parts of optimizing social media activity.

  • Select the best platforms

Social media managers typically start by figuring out what their followers are searching for and where they are looking for it in order to decide what kind of material is most suited for their audience. This frequently involves assessing which social media sites have the best chances for connecting with their target audience.

Social media optimization includes adjusting the material in accordance with the target audience for each social network, including LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, and Pinterest.

  • Choose Relevant Hashtags

Finding hashtags that will enhance the possibility that a user will see a particular piece of information on social media, particularly on hashtag-driven networks like Instagram and Twitter, is another aspect of social media optimization.

For instance, a vehicle repair company might look up relevant trending hashtags for the automotive service sector and deliberately include them in posts to improve the chances that their content would be seen by their intended audience.

  • Observe the network specifications

There are rules regarding what kind of content can be shared on each network. They specify the ideal aspect ratio(s) for pictures and videos, the text word limit, and the maximum number of hashtags, images, and links that can be used in a single post.

When creating a social media optimization strategy, all of these requirements must be taken into account. If they are not followed, post material may be cut off or sized uncomfortably, and websites may not rank the content as highly in search results. Hootsuite and other SM management tools are useful for planning and arranging content according to each network’s requirements.

  • Analyze performance frequently

Reports on social media performance, including keywords, engagement, and paid content, enable businesses in understanding how their social media platforms are currently performing. Based on the trends they are observing, they can optimize. For example, social media teams may utilize other keywords for the following post to continue testing performance if a certain post didn’t perform well or had a lower-than-usual engagement. Continuous analysis improves knowledge of brand performance, consumer engagement, and the types of content that are most effective in achieving corporate goals.

Social Media Optimization(SMO) Vs Social Media Marketing(SMM)

Social media optimization (SMO) is concerned with organic (non-bought) content as opposed to social media marketing (SMM), which focuses mostly on paid advertising on social networks. But because they both affect a social media account’s overall success as well as the company’s bottom line, the two ideas are inextricably linked.

Any social media marketing strategies are more likely to be successful if a social media account and the material it shares are optimized. By launching an SMM campaign, a social media account’s performance may occasionally be enhanced, easing the SMO procedure slightly.

Additionally, social media marketing (with its focus on paid or boosted exposure) is frequently conversion-focused: the company wants the audience to view the material and then click to make a purchase or provide contact information. Social media teams will support SMM campaigns with optimized organic audiences in order to increase the reach of the paid content.

Top 5 Social Media Platforms

Today, there are many SM platforms available to marketers, and which ones you choose to use can have a significant impact on the success of your social media marketing. The network you utilize can be influenced by a number of factors, including your industry, audience, and brand.

PlatformMonthly UsersRevenueLaunched Year
Facebook2.9 billion$85 billion2004
Instagram2 billion$24 billion2010
Pinterest444 million$575 million2005
LinkedIn250 million$12.4 billion2006
Twitter217 million$5.42 billion2003
  1. Facebook

With more than two billion users, Facebook is the most widely used social network on the planet. As long as they have Internet access, you can therefore find just about everyone on Facebook. Almost all of your consumer base has a Facebook account, making it a popular social networking platform for businesses.

Facebook gives you the opportunity to create a community out of your consumer base because of its enormous popularity. By setting up a straightforward Facebook profile, you may publish information about your company’s inner workings, special offers on your services, and more. Once you submit some images, you can start requesting followers from Facebook people. It only takes a few minutes to set up.

  1. Instagram

With a majority of its users under 25, Instagram is one of the newest social media platforms available. It is therefore the ideal social network for businesses or brands that cater to young, trendy clientele. Instagram is particularly good for images and brief videos with little to no text, and it also interacts with your Facebook and Twitter accounts so you can share the same images everywhere.

Urban locations typically have a larger Instagram following, therefore businesses that specialize in fashion or digital technology will typically perform better than those that specialize in agricultural or home construction. But even if you’re not a youthful, trendy business, you can still succeed; you simply need to use a little more imagination while taking images.

  1. Pinterest

A location to share (or “pin”) various visual stuff for viewing by others is Pinterest. This means that nearly any business may discover at least some of their specialty on this social network, from a scarf to an infographic. One of the best social media channels for promoting freshly produced visual material is Pinterest, especially if you consistently update your boards.

Use some graphic design wizardry to dress up some stats or other fascinating, evergreen information that will keep getting pins and expand the awareness of your company over time. This is especially useful if your business creates goods or provides services that are targeted specifically at women since, according to statistics, 85% of Pinterest’s user base is female.

  1. LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the most professional social network available. It has a large professional network of employees and business owners, making it far more formal than other platforms. Because of this, its users react to B2B material more favourably than B2C content.

That basically indicates that firms that target businesses as clients will succeed more than businesses that target consumers directly. LinkedIn is full of decision-makers and influencers, and if you can reach them with your brand and message, you might be able to close another deal.

  1. Twitter

Twitter provides its users with a constant feed of news and fresh content from throughout the Internet. Every brand in the world has an account to update its clients, and it receives millions of active users each month. This business-focused social network may not have the same widespread user base as Facebook, but it is undoubtedly one of the most open networks on the world. Twitter, on the other hand, is known for limiting users to messages of 280 characters or less.

It’s difficult to be succinct, engaging, and instructive all in one tweet, as a result. However, if you do it right, others may favour or retweet what you’ve written, allowing you to reach a larger audience. In general, Twitter is one of the greatest social media channels for raising brand recognition.

The Takeaway

There is social media everywhere. It is used by people and companies of all sizes and types. It’s an essential tool for connecting with customers, gaining feedback from them, and raising brand awareness.

A successful social media plan can improve an organization’s reputation and foster awareness and trust among a widening network of contacts. No platforms are off bounds, even though some are more suited to B2B advertising.

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