The Battle of the Social Media Platforms in 2018

Digital Marketing · Social Media

Social media. We love it; we hate it, we thrive on it. It’s so integral to our personal day-to-day lives - most of us can’t get away from it, even when we try. And it’s just because of this that social media marketing will remain one of the most effective and least expensive ways to build a business.

But with such a huge range of social media platforms out there how are we to know which is the best suited and most effective when it comes to creating a stellar digital marketing strategy? Read on for an overview of the top 10 social media platforms today and how to choose the best social media site for your business, and future predictions.

Choosing the Best Social Media Platforms for your Business

While many business leaders do use a strategic mix of sites, it’s actually more important that you start with one or two only that provide a good fit for your initial buyer personas. There really isn’t “one” site that will be optimal, although clearly, Facebook would likely the winner for a broad range of businesses.

Here are some things to consider as you figure out which are the best social marketing sites for your specific business or niche: 

  • Demographics: How old is your audience? How old is the audience of each social site you are considering? What about gender? Where do your audiences match?
  • Industry: Is there a particular platform that’s more geared towards your industry, or even a similar one?
  • Content: What is the nature of most of your content and (how) do you expect this to change in the near future?
  • Product: How does your product “fit” with a given platform?  

Social Media Trends

Why are certain types of platforms more popular than others? Let’s take a look at some up-and-coming trends that are going to drive the popularity of certain sites.

Stories & Livestreams

Ever noticed how more and more people are posting quickie videos on Instagram and Facebook and they only last for a day? Have you ever tried out SnapChat or checked out Facebook live? Welcome to the world of ephemeral content. People love it because it offers an authentic and intimate peek into a person or businesses’ “normal” life. It’s not filtered (though it can be) and it’s great for engagement. Instagram and Facebook stories are also examples of “micro-moments” that businesses can use to their advantage.

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is one of the biggest breakthroughs in recent years. It is especially effective for millennials and Gen Z. The idea behind this is that they follow people they “love” and you get to advertise through them, so that it works somewhat organically and people feel more connected to your brand through their favorite personalities. Some examples of major influencers today include the popular blogger and outspoken founder of Kissmetrics, Neil Patel, and Latino social media star and Cover Girl model Lele Pons.

There’s plenty of room for partnering with up-and-coming stars or just people you feel that your brand is connected to – just be sure to be transparent about it: The FTC recently sent a reminder to some major influencers about this in the interest of maintaining transparency. 

Hangouts

Generation Z is all about hanging out – but it’s not so much about chilling in the bedroom or at the mall anymore. Today all the kids are hanging out online – at least, that’s what the group app called Houseparty would like us to think. Whether or not your product fits this angle for branding reasons, you’ll want to bear it in mind for collaboration and team-based work into the near future.   

Top 10 Sites

Most of this list probably won’t come as much of a surprise, but there are a few newer platforms here that you may not have heard of but should get to know if you’re immersed in the digital marketing industry.

Here’s what’s trending as of November 2017 (via Dreamgrow).

Facebook 

At over 2 billion monthly users, Facebook is showing no signs of slowing down. Innovative, newer features you may want to check out include a change in the algorithm that deprioritizes business and encourages more interaction between friends and family. Facebook ad costs also recently went up, but this still remains an extremely viable and affordable advertising option for most types of businesses.

2. Youtube

YouTube not only has 1.5 billion monthly users but has demonstrated remarkable growth since its inception over 10 years ago. It’s the most popular website for good reason: people love video. They love making it; they love sharing it, they love watching it. There’s no sign of this platform slowing down soon, so if you’re an advertiser who hasn’t jumped on it, you should do so now.

3. Instagram

800 million people use Instagram monthly, and there are many reasons why. On a personal or professional level, it really has it all, save for a lot of room for words or backlinking in the text and comment area. Instagram is less for chatting and more for building followers, and even though the rules and algorithms do keep changing, it remains one of the most fun and least invasive (from ads or trolls) platforms around. 

4. Twitter

Though at first, they weren’t quite sure why, 330 million people are now using Twitter every month – and it’s a great place to have a snappy conversation about anything newsworthy, especially the controversial stuff. People love it because it’s consistent and direct – and they don’t love it because it’s an open platform for trolls and abuse. It’s basic and has not changed much over the years.

5. Snapchat

300 million people a month use the popular photo-sharing platform Snapchat. People like it because it’s very private and is also great for video calling. It’s not just for teens or millennials, but it does have a high proportion of younger users and was originally geared towards them.

6. Reddit

At some 250 million users per month, Reddit is a super popular site with a unique setup. You can find answers to just about anything in this social forum, and because it’s so big, it’s actually an excellent place for marketing when it comes to backlinking.

7. Pinterest

You’ve probably used Pinterest, which has over 200 million monthly users, to find recipes, hairstyles or travel destinations. It’s a highly visual site that works well for anyone using a lot of photos or niches where people are liable to “collect” bits and pieces of information for later. While its popularity may be waning slightly over time, it’s still a great go-to for visuals, though it’s not as interactive as Instagram. 

8. Ask.fm

A whopping 160 (some sources say 215) million monthly users are immersed on the biggest social site that you’ve probably never heard of.

So what’s the hype about? This platform started as a place to ask anonymous questions and was geared towards teens and millennials at its inception. But it has received some bad press as it has been linked to cyberbullying. Since it has been under fire by the media and there are plenty of articles out warning parents not to let their kids use the site.

9. Tumblr

115 million active users on Tumblr thrive on its unusual interface for sharing the wacky, weird and wild visuals that they come across every day. It’s pretty great if you’re using a lot of different media types that are highly visual. It also comes with built-in email and mobile publishing. Tumblr is not likely to slow down soon so if your brand fits it you’ll want to consider jumping in now. 

10. Flickr

112 million people still use the photo-sharing platform Flickr on a monthly basis, but there are signs that its popularity may be waning. For photographers, it’s an easy way to store and share photos, but interface-wise it may not be as up-to-date as its competitors.

(By the way, Google + and LinkedIn have over 100 million users per month as well.)

Future Predictions

What will be the most popular social media sites in 2019 and beyond? Of course, there’s so much innovation going on in the digital sphere, and there’s so much talent out there, we really have no idea what’s around the corner.

However looking at the next few years, while we can’t say which sites exactly will continue to hold strong, it is likely that a few of the current trends will stick around, and this can inform our choices about what platforms we can “buy” into for the long haul. Mobile, video and a continued focus on user control and privacy will definitely continue to rule.