First it was Facebook.
Then, everyone you know joined Twitter.
Now Instagram is blowing up our mobile phones.
Also, whatever happened to Vine?
Why are there so many types of social media and why should we all use them? They each have very specific purposes.
I’m not here to tell you to drop everything and go make 10 new social networking profiles because it’s very, very important to be where you can be present online.
You’re better off having one active profile than you are having 27 dormant ones.
But, if your 2018 business goals include lead generation, audience engagement or brand awareness then you need to be doing social media marketing.
If you're new to the game, here is a quick cheat sheet for you. This might get a little long, but hopefully will be helpful as you build your brand online.
The Big 4
The social networks that I hear most often in conversation are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Twitter: Think of having everyone you know (and some that you don’t) in one room, talking to each other about different things. That is Twitter in a nutshell.
What Twitter is great for:
Instagram: If you can get past all of the wannabe Kardashians, you'll find that Instagram is actually quite useful for brand building. Your brand is who you are and using Instagram, you can communicate that in a very visual way that appeals to the voyeuristic side of human nature.
What Instagram is great for:
Facebook: Friends, friends of friends and high school friends who were never actually your real friends. Everyone is on Facebook, right? I like to think of Facebook as the modern day version of the address book: for some people it's an intimate list but for others, it's a catalog of people you have crossed paths with in life.
What Facebook is great for:
LinkedIn: This is the "grown-up" social network - the professional one. It's where you post your bright and shiny headshot and find out what is going on in your industry.
What LinkedIn is great for:
So many more!
Even though Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram might be all the rage right now, it's almost a guarantee that they won't stay that way. There are so many other sites out there where people spend time, and it's only a matter of time before something new emerges.
Pinterest: The official social network for "pretty things" Pinterest is basically a visual, digital Pinboard. It it a good referral traffic source and hub for sharing and gathering ideas and inspiration -- especially for food, fashion, home and DIY.
Snapchat: I think of it as Instagram's little sister. It enjoyed some early infamy with over 200 million users in 2015, but the company is losing money, losing talent, and Instagram scooped most of the features that make Snapchat what it is, and in my opinion they are doing it better (minus the filters that let you give yourself sunglasses and unicorn ears).
YouTube: A massive video content platform with a highly influential digital marketplace, YouTube is used most effectively with Facebook and Twitter for content amplification. If you're making videos, a presence on YouTube is non-negotiable but take the time to study up on video content optimization and structure for max results.
Tumblr: Intended for short-form blogging, Tumblr can be a good stepping stone to blogging. It's also a fun place to discover new content, with some recently updated filtering options. While there aren't any major downsides to Tumblr, I think most people have moved on to different platforms and it isn't the quirky, creative destination it once was.
Google Plus: The official social network of the Internet search arbiter, G+ started strong with an invite-only beta period in 2011 and has not done a whole lot since. Some marketers swear by sharing content on Google Plus for an SEO boost - I think you can do plenty without it.
Overall, I believe that instead of jumping ship from the tried and true platforms to the newest, sparkliest social networking site, a better strategy is to pick a few that you can focus on and spend time there, stay current, and adapt as new features roll out.
Thoughts on new and traditional media, current events, life in Chicago and the occasional small Chihuahua photo.