Social media companies are offering marketers an increasingly expansive palette to bump up their exposure, generate leads for business, boost traffic and connect directly with consumers.
And the marketing and advertising industry is responding. Advertising on social media companies is expected to soar from $132 billion in 2020 to more than $200 billion by 2024, according to Statista.
Top Social Media Companies
There’s a wide range to choose from, as each social media platform has its own niche and focus — from Nextdoor that seeks to build strong community bonds among neighbors to Quora that wants users to lend a hand by answering others’ questions. Marketers, as a result, will need to spend some time identifying the right platform for your brand.
Below is a list of some popular social media companies to help you and your marketing team on your way.
20 Social Media Companies to Know
BeReal lets users catch up with friends, family and others via photos. It sends out a random, daily notification to a user, who has up to two minutes to snap a photo and share it with their BeReal network. Users are encouraged to use raw footage, since the app does not have filters or editing tools people can use before uploading their images. Dubbed the anti-Instagram, BeReal scored a top slot on Apple’s App Store last summer, according to AdAge. With its popularity growing, marketers may be itching to get on board, but BeReal prohibits the use of the app for advertising. There are some workarounds for marketers, however. If your brand can pull off photos without the need for heavy editing, glitzy embellishments or the like, then BeReal may work for you. Mexican restaurant chain Chipotle, for example, posted a photo of its takeout bag with instructions scrawled on how to claim a free entree with its promotion code — keeping to the simple, unadulterated look that has made the app so popular.
Clubhouse is unique in that it’s an audio-based social media platform. Users create voice-only online rooms or clubs, and can participate in live podcasts, networking opportunities and panel discussions, for example. This platform gives marketers access to a young audience: More than half of U.S. users are between the ages of 18 to 34 years old, according to Statista. Marketers can use their clubhouse room to host a panel discussion with one of their company’s representatives as a moderator or panelist, which in turn can help build the organization’s brand. Coinbase and HubSpot are just two examples of brands that have hosted rooms, according to a HubSpot blog post.
Meta operates social media behemoth Facebook, which has a worldwide reach with about 2.9 percent of the global population using the platform monthly, according to Hootsuite. Facebook also has a wide array of groups based on topics or interests that marketers can target. The social media platform not only allows users to share their activities, comments, photos and videos, but also create sub-groups for just family members, or people who have a similar topic interest. Facebook offers marketers brand templates and a slate of free tools, which include action buttons that encourage users to shop, send a message or book an appointment. These buttons are positioned at the top of your organization’s Facebook page, so customers view them first. Facebook also offers an e-commerce area on Facebook Marketplace.
Instagram is an ideal platform for marketers to tell their brand’s story, since its visual content is centered on storytelling. Instagram lets users post photos, videos and comments, view random videos others have posted, and shop right from their feeds. Roughly a third of the social media platform’s users are 18 to 24 years old, and approximately another third are between 25 to 34 years old, according to Hootsuite’s Global State of Digital 2022 report. Instagram offers marketers storytelling tools like Reels, which allow you to edit short videos and share them, and Stories where you can post photos and videos. Marketers can use these tools to bring more attention to their products or services, which can also be sold on Instagram Shopping.
LinkedIn is a social networking site for business professionals, where users can post their resumes along with articles, photos and videos. For marketers, using LinkedIn can give access to C-suite executives and other decision-makers. The social media site offers tools specifically for marketers as part of its marketing and advertising service, LinkedIn Marketing. After creating a LinkedIn page for your organization to share company news and updates, you can also add LinkedIn advertisements to tout your business and tie them back to your LinkedIn page.
Mastodon is a decentralized open-source social media network where users can create their own social media feed as they see fit on their servers versus adhering to a company’s particular template. As a result, you can create your own rules and regulations for your Mastodon feed. Although you may run your own marketing and advertisements on your feed, Mastodon itself will not use algorithms or push out advertisements to other users’ servers. So, you will want to establish a strong following directly on your site otherwise your branding activities won’t be seen. Increasingly viewed as an alternative to Twitter, Mastodon also supports audio, video, pictures, accessibility descriptions, animated avatars, polls and custom emojis.
Nextdoor is a hyperlocal social media site where neighbors and local businesses can share information that pertains to their community. As a result, marketers have the ability to target specific geographic communities, a useful tool when opening a new store location or wanting to promote an event in a specific town. The social media site also has programs specifically designed to assist marketers and advertisers reach residents based on their interest and location. Nextdoor has also partnered with companies on various campaigns, like teaming up with Verizon for The Big Neighborhood Meetup program to encourage people in their communities to share a meal and conversation.
Pinterest attracts users who are looking for ideas on a variety of projects as they scan through a large depository of photos and videos others have uploaded. Marketers can get in front of these users and build brand awareness on Pinterest by showcasing their products in unique and artful ways. The site also offers business accounts and advice on how to market your goods, such as offering five formats to display photos and video (like carousels of rotating images or collections which group several photos together). Your company can also connect its Shopify or WooCommerce stores to a Pinterest business account to conduct e-commerce transactions.
Quora is a social media platform that allows users to post questions and respond to others. One way you can use the site is by creating a business account, which can display your company’s name and logo, and searching the site using keywords like your company’s name, your competitor’s name or name of the product or service category you are in. Have one of your company experts answer questions to start building brand authority and awareness. Quora notes on its site that higher-quality responses — those that demonstrate domain expertise and a unique view — tend to get more engagement and distribution among its members.
Marketers can use Reddit as a market research tool, where it can provide valuable intelligence on what people are thinking about their brand, products, competitors or industry. Reddit members post comments, links, photos and videos on the site, which has a wide array of interest-based communities, or subreddits. Users can then vote on these posts, with those receiving the most upvotes rising toward the top of the category page. Since most of the subreddits have explicit rules that ban posting an ad to their community or engaging in blatant self-promotion, it may be best to use this site for market research and for engaging with Reddit users. According to Reddit, 90 percent of its users trust the site to learn about new products and brands.
Second Life is a virtual community where users and companies can create their own space, and even buy virtual land or islands that are inhabited by users’ avatars. The site has been around for two decades, long before Facebook changed its name to Meta and the popularity of the metaverse soared. Companies can sell merchandise at the Second Life Marketplace, hold events to demo new products, host conferences, fireside chats and other activities on their island or space, which can mimic those typically found in the real world. Cisco, Dell, Xerox, Intel, and BT are among companies that have held virtual meetings in Second Life, and Accenture even went as far as host virtual recruiting events on the social media platform, according to CNBC.
A whopping 81 percent of TikTok users use the video-based social media platform to discover new products and brands, according to the company. On TikTok, users can post a range of short video content, from 15-second clips of people noisily eating food in a mukbang video to a 10-minute video of a bedroom redesign. Marketers can use the platform to offer contests and challenges to build their brand, as well as create specific content for TikTok’s audience — or in some cases both. That’s what e.l.f. Cosmetics did with its #eyeslipsface contest, which resulted in 5 million user-generated videos and 7 billion views.
Highly customizable, Tumblr is a microblogging site that allows users to post short snippets of text, photos, videos, GIFs and music on their private or public feeds. Marketers can customize their Tumblr profile theme, colors, font and layout, which offers more freedom than what other platforms offer, according to Search Engine Journal. With Tumblr, marketers can also attach the company’s icon to photos that they post on the platform. And with photos and GIFs, both can catch users’ eyes more readily than text, according to digital marketing company WebFX.
Twitch is a live streaming platform where users can share their screen with other users, allowing them to watch and participate. Among its users, 78.4 percent are male, according to Stream Scheme, while the largest group (35.9 percent) of active users consist of 18 to 24 year olds. Since Twitch is composed of a number of creators, who range from game developers to musicians, one of the ways marketers can expand their brand is to become creators themselves on the site. A mobile game company, for example, could have a game developer provide a tutorial on its channel.
Twitter, one of the early pioneers in social media, is especially popular with users between the ages of 25 to 34 years old, who account for 38.5 percent of the total user base, according to Statista. Twitter acts as a microblogging site where users send out tweets to their followers that can contain comments, photos and videos. Users can also retweet or redirect posts on their feed from others to their own followers. For marketers, you can benefit by gathering market information about your followers. When preparing a tweet, for example, you have the option of adding a poll. Through these informal polls, you may learn more about your followers, which in turn may help target the next steps to expand your brand. Twitter also unveiled Product Drops, which sends out product availability alerts to interested parties following a product unveiling. The social media giant is also testing and exploring ways to bring e-commerce to its site.
Owned by Chinese tech company Tencent, WeChat is a social messaging app that offers text chat, voice, video and mobile payments. Marketers can leverage WeChat to offer loyalty programs that deliver location-based promotions with its geo-location technology. Although users in the United States don’t have access to its group chat feature, U.S. companies can use its WeChat Mini Programs to sell products after they secure a foreign business license. Mini Programs can also be used to create experiences. For instance, WeChat partnered with 11 museums to create a “Museum in the Cloud” experience, which allowed art lovers a way to virtually visit the museums.
Phone, chat and video call giant WhatsApp is a global communications tool that offers several ways for marketers to build their brand. One is using the WhatsApp Groups feature to connect with users interested in anything from sports to entertainment to technology. By finding groups relevant to your business, it could provide rich ground for gathering informal market research and conducting focus groups before launching a new product or service. You could also tap into your WhatsApp group to inform them of special promotions and offers. Or, you can update your company’s status with WhatsApp Stories, which works similar to Instagram Stories.
Yelp is a social media site and app where people can rate and post reviews after visiting a location or using a service or product. The reviewers, known as Yelpers, are not paid and Yelp does not have control over what they write. Businesses can boost brand awareness by partnering with the social media site to host a Yelp event and invite Yelp reviewers. Although there is no guarantee the free food, drinks, entertainment or lodging will result in favorable reviews, the potential is there to increase your rating and number of reviews.
Social media titan YouTube is a video platform with around 2 billion monthly users globally. It features user-uploaded videos on a range of topics from sports to music. In 2020, the platform launched YouTube Shorts, giving users an opportunity to create short-form videos, similar to those on TikTok, a major competitor. Marketers can build their brand on this popular video platform if done right. One best practice, according to YouTube, is to use various video formats to grab users’ attention. You can also use Google’s Find My Audience tool to help identify the right audience for your video or ads.
Zynga, creator of Farmville and Words With Friends, works with companies to develop marketing and advertising strategies that use gamification to drive user engagement. For instance, it teamed up with insurance company Progressive for a series of in-game playable ads, as well as cosmetics company Maybelline, where players can win in-game cash and rewards.