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What are the top social media platforms for 2020? Glad you asked. What follows is a list of the top social media platforms you can use to grow your business.
We include all the platforms you already know about — Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, Instagram, WhatsApp, TikTok and all of the best-known social media platforms.
We also include a bunch of additional tools you should know about. Tools like Agorapulse, Wishpond, and Latana are not necessarily social media platforms, but they are tools that you can use to improve the results of your campaigns.
Ready to get started? Let’s dive in.
Social Media Platforms That Help You Network with Others:
Facebook: Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook out of his dorm room for his fellow students at Harvard. Today, toddlers to grandmothers can be found on Facebook. Strengths: Widely-adopted by large segments of the population. Weaknesses: Will the younger generation stay on Facebook once Grandma has “friended” them?
Facebook Live: I’m identifying this as a separate platform from Facebook, even though it’s not (hey, it’s my blog and I can do that if I want to). Facebook Live was created to compete against Meerkat (dead), Periscope, Houseparty, and Instagram stories (sort of). It’s taken the world by storm. Strengths: Wide adoption and ease of use. Weaknesses: Once you start squashing your competitors, humans are prone to root against you.
Google+: The clean, simple interface makes connecting with friends, family and business associates a piece of cake. Google+ was the fastest-growing social network in history but it looks as though it has plateaued. (Read between the lines: It’s a ghost town.) Strengths: Ease-of-use and uncluttered environment. Weaknesses: Competition from other well-established social media platforms like Facebook.
hi5: This is a social networking platform that skews a little younger than LinkedIn. Members can play games, watch videos, flirt, give gifts or just hang out. Strengths: It’s a great alternative to MySpace and/or Facebook for the younger crowd. Weaknesses: It may not be the best social networking platform for business.
Houseparty: This is the app that has replaced Meerkat, which imploded (see below). The press kit on their website is just a bunch of images — no information on adoption or future plans. Will they become relevant in light of Facebook Live? Probably not.
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LinkedIn: This is the Grand Pooh-Bah of them all. They’ve been around since 2003, which, in social media terms is also known as “since the beginning of time.” I think LinkedIn succeeds despite itself, but others may disagree. Strengths: Everybody’s on LinkedIn. Weaknesses: Most people have trouble knowing what to do with LinkedIn after they upload their business information.
Meerkat: Dead as a doornail. Bummer. These guys were the hero of SXSW a few years ago but imploded under all the pressure. Houseparty has risen out of the ashes, but I’m not sure it’s been widely adopted in the face of Facebook Live.
MyLife: A clean, simple site that helps people connect with family, friends and other relationships. Over 750 million profiles. Strengths: The easy-to-use interface is one of the site’s great strengths. Perfect if you’re looking for an engaging, simple way to connect with old friends. Weaknesses: Not as widely adopted as some other sites.
Ning: This site connects groups of people who are passionate about particular interests, topics or hobbies. Co-Founded by Marc Andreessen, who helped launch Netscape. Strengths: Great for connecting with others who are interested in your area of expertise. Weaknesses: The user interface is so simple and uncluttered that getting started can be confusing. But once you’ve figured it out, it can be a good tool.
Periscope: Like its close relative Meerkat, this new video sharing platform is taking the world by storm. Are you interested in using live video to share parts of your life with the world around you? If so, then Periscope is for you.
Plaxo: Currently hosts address books for more than 40 million people. Helps people stay in touch with “Pulse,” which is a dashboard that lets you see what the people you know are sharing all over the web. Strengths: Graphical user interface makes it easy-to-use. Weaknesses: It’s not as widely adopted as some other platforms such as LinkedIn.
Snapchat: Originally a sexting tool, Snapchat has evolved into a mainstream social media platform and, at one time, was the fastest-growing platform around. Things have slowed down a bit for Snapchat, but it’s still a formidable platform that will have a long shelf life. They currently define themselves as a “camera” company. Strengths: Wide and loyal adoption among a specific segment of the population (those under age 35). Weaknesses: They’re trying to diversify into some highly questionable arenas (glasses? really?).
TikTok: Gone are the days of Vine, now there is a new short-form video platform. TikTok is the world’s leading destination for short mobile video clips. Formerly known as Music.ly, the app has since been acquired by ByteDance and rebranded the platform to what we know now as TikTok.
Twitter: Despite President Trump’s seeming obsession with Twitter, I believe that the best days for this platform are behind it. They were never really able to monetize or expand the platform (although I’m sure the folks at Twitter would disagree). Keep using it, keep playing with it, but don’t expect it to replace Facebook any time soon. Strengths: Used by large segments of the population. Weaknesses: Can be a distraction, especially if you have Attention Deficit Disor … wow, look at that bird outside my window!
WhatsApp: More than 1 billion people in over 180 countries use WhatsApp to stay in touch with friends and family, at any time and from anywhere. The WhatsApp Messenger is a cross-platform messaging and voice over IP service. It allows users to send text messages and voice messages, make voice and video calls, and share images, documents, user locations, and other media with their contacts. WhatsApp is free and offers simple, secure, reliable messaging and calling, available on phones all over the world.
XING: XING has more than 8 million subscribers worldwide. It has over 34,000 specialized groups and over 150,000 live networking events each year. Strengths: XING adds new developments to their platform on a regular basis. Weaknesses: Not as widely-adopted as some other platforms such as LinkedIn.
Social Media Platforms That Help You Track Your Results:
DashThis: This automated reporting tool is designed specifically for marketers to track and display their social media and web analytics KPIs. The reports are great for sharing with clients or marketing teams, and the tool is known for being simple to use, good-looking and for providing legendary customer service. You can use the tool’s pre-built report templates or start one from scratch. Plus, one great thing to note with this tool is that you can add data from multiple social platforms into a single report.
Geckoboard: Geckoboard is also a tool to report your data, and it was created specifically to showcase your dashboard on a TV in your office. Your sales or HR team could use it to showcase their own monthly results, but you can use it to showcase social media data from your different marketing integrations. It’s pretty cool to see your data in real-time, like how many people visit your Facebook or Twitter page every day, for example.
Tableau: Tableau is a BI analytics platform you can use to analyze your marketing data. It has the advantage of being very customizable, and you can add all the data you want in your dashboard (social, sales, web analytics, or others). However, you might need help from your IT specialist to do so. There’s a bit of a steep learning curve, but once it’s all set up and you understand how it works, you can get very thorough marketing data with complex formulas and data correlations to have a deep understanding of your marketing results.
It’s important to track how each individual social media post has performed, but it is equally as important to track how your campaigns are impacting your brand as a whole. Latana is an advanced brand tracking tool that was designed to provide marketers with an intuitive dashboard where they can track how their campaigns are impacting key brand KPIs and target audiences. The results can be used to tailor marketing campaigns for their audiences and improve brand performance. The platform can also be used to track the impact of competitor social media campaigns.
Social Media Platforms That Help You Share Your Content:
Agorapulse: This is a social media management tool run by my good friend Emeric Ernoult (who, because he is French, is undoubtedly on a kitesurfing vacation right now). Emeric and his team have put together one of the fastest-growing social media management platforms on the planet. It’s highly intuitive and very robust. Check it out. And be sure to sign up for their blog, too.
Wishpond: This is a super easy-to-use platform you can use for generating, managing and nurturing leads. Wishpond’s marketing platform includes tools for landing pages, social promotions, website popups, online forms, lead activity tracking, lead management, lead intelligence, marketing automation, email marketing and marketing analytics. And with native integrations with leading sales, payment, analytics and collaboration apps, Wishpond is the complete platform for marketers of all kinds.
Buffer: This social media management tool allows you to schedule Tweets and Facebook updates quickly and easily from your web browser. It’s perfect for people not interested in using TweetDeck or HootSuite. Just sign up, install on your browser and the next time you’re at a web page you want to share, hit the Buffer button and schedule it for some time in the future. Strengths: An easy way to schedule updates on Twitter and Facebook. Weaknesses: Other platforms offer the same functionality.
Delicious: This is a social bookmarking service owned by Yahoo. When someone tags your article, video or blog post with a Delicious bookmark, it’s the equivalent of a “vote.” The more votes you get, the more visibility your content has on the Delicious website. Strengths: It’s everywhere. Weaknesses: You have to have a lot of traffic and a lot of votes to show up on the radar screen.
Digg: Similar to Delicious in that people vote for articles, videos and blog posts they like. If your content receives enough Diggs, it’s promoted to the front page for millions of visitors to see. Strengths: Like Delicious, Digg is everywhere. Weaknesses: You have to have a lot of traffic and a lot of votes to show up on the radar screen.
HootSuite: This is a tool that allows you to manage multiple social media channels through one dashboard. If you have a company with more than one contributor to your social media program, HootSuite is a good solution. Strengths: A very easy-to-use interface. Simple set-up, yet still powerful. Weaknesses: If your social media program is no more extensive than updating a Twitter account, then HootSuite would be over-kill.
Instagram: A surprisingly fun photography app that’s sweeping the globe. Install Instagram on your smartphone and, next time you take a photo, use it to enhance, stylize and share the photo with others in your network. Strengths: A fun, easy-to-use app. Weaknesses: Other apps provide a similar experience.
LocalVox: This is a social media dashboard that’s similar to HootSuite and TweetDeck. It’s perfect for people who are interested in drilling down a little deeper than either HootSuite or TweetDeck allow you to do. You wouldn’t want to use LocalVox in addition to the others, but instead of. If you need a more in-depth experience, LocalVox may be just what you need.
Likeable Hub: This is a social media management and sharing platform created by my friend Dave Kerpen. You can access it via your desktop, or with an easy to use mobile app, so using it is a snap. Likeable Hub provides content creation, content scheduling, Facebook advertising (and amplification), website creation, analytics, and social listening tools. Overall, it’s a rock solid platform that’s perfect for busy professionals.
MIX: Formerly known as StumbleUpon, MIX, is comparable to Digg, Delicious, and Reddit. When you rate a website that you like using MIX, it’s automatically shared with like-minded people. And, it helps you find great sites your friends recommend. Strengths: MIX helps spread your content to people not regularly exposed to your products and/or services. Weaknesses: Competes with several other well-established tools, like Digg, Delicious, and Reddit.
TweetDeck: Whatever happened to TweetDeck? Oh, that’s right — Twitter bought them and ran them into the ground. Bummer. Like HootSuite, TweetDeck provides a way to track many of your social media channels on one dashboard. It can be a time-saver and a productivity-enhancer, assuming you’re not easily distracted. Strengths: It’s very easy to set-up and get started. Weaknesses: Like all dashboard tools, it can lead to distractions for employees who are easily … Whoa! Is that a fly on the ceiling or just a speck of dust?
Wikipedia: It still amazes us that this user-generated encyclopedia is run by just a few dozen employees (along with hundreds of thousands of contributors around the globe). It’s a great tool for legitimate entries. Don’t try to game the system by adding overly-promotional posts. But if your entry will be helpful to the Wikipedia community at large, have at it. Strengths: It’s a great tool for uploading legitimate, helpful content about your product, service or company. Weaknesses: If your target market is over the age of 40, they might struggle with Wikipedia’s minuscule type.
Yelp: This platform offers user-generated reviews on cool places to eat, shop, drink, relax and play. Yelp has an augmented reality Smart Phone application that makes using it on the run a blast. Strengths: User-generated reviews are a great way for customers and prospects to find out about your business. Weaknesses: Some people try to game the system with faux reviews, but Yelp does a pretty good job of keeping those faux reviews at bay
Social Media Platforms That Help You Promote Your Business:
Bing: Bing, Google, and Yahoo aren’t technically social media platforms, but they are tools that can be used to promote your product or service, so we’re including all three in this overview. The technique for using any search engine to promote your product or service is the same so you’ll want to optimize your website so that the search engines see it. By doing so, you’ll drive traffic to your website from the people doing searches on specific topics. Strengths: Bing uses “intelligent search” to make searches even more relevant for the user. Weaknesses: It’s fighting against Google, which is a tough battle.
Blogging Platforms: These are tools that are used to create blogs. Some of them, like Blogger, Tumblr, Vox or Xanga are straightforward platforms that are great for people who want to do a simple blog about their vacation, their company or their family reunion. If you’re ready to create a more robust blog that adds a lot of SEO value for your website, you’ll want to use Joomla, Drupal, Typepad or WordPress. These are the blogging platforms used by serious bloggers.
Discussion Boards and Forums: Are you interested in creating an online forum where members of your community can engage with each other and offer each other advice? Then a discussion board or forum is for you. The best-known platforms for forums include Lefora, Zoho, Drupal, PhpBB, Vanila, JavaBB and vBulletin. Strengths: Forums are a great way to build a relationship with customers and prospects. Weaknesses: They require regular, ongoing time and energy to keep them running properly.
Google: Google is technically not a social media platform, but can be used as a social tool to drive visits to your well-optimized website. Strengths: Ease-of-use and pervasiveness. Weaknesses: Are they spreading their brand across too many channels? Does this confuse people? (Answer: Probably not, but we’re struggling to come up with any weakness for Google. They’re just so darn nice, it’s hard to figure out what they’re not good at. They’re even good at not being evil, you know?)
Email Marketing Platforms: Email can often get overlooked in the world of social media, but if you define social media as tools that help you have a dialogue with your customers and prospects, then email falls into the social media category. Popular email marketing tools include AWeber (affiliate link), Constant Contact, iContact, Marketing Cloud and GetResponse (Side Note: I’m friends with and work for the folks at GetResponse). Strengths: Email is a highly measurable way to connect with customers and prospects. Weaknesses: Email marketing requires a concerted, ongoing effort if you’re going to do it right.
Flickr: This is a photo-sharing site that can be used to build awareness and drive traffic to your product pages. If you’re selling hunting rifles or tennis rackets or widgets, you’ll want to use Flickr to a) build awareness for your product and b) drive people from Flickr to your website. Strengths: Flickr is easy-to-use and has a clean user interface. Weaknesses: Photo-sharing sites are important, but they’re not the very first thing you’ll want to work on in your social media campaign.
Howcast: Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a website where you could watch “How To” videos on the topic of your choice? Well, there is and it’s called Howcast. It’s an extremely worthy-competitor to YouTube. Strengths: A great place to upload high-quality content. Weaknesses: The default is still YouTube. Most people are conditioned to automatically type “YouTube” into their browser.
iTunes: This is not the only podcasting site, but it’s the best-known and most popular. If you’re doing interviews with industry experts or if you’re creating mini-radio shows, iTunes is the place to be. Strengths: It’s a well-known, well-respected platform. Weaknesses: If you don’t create scintillating content, people won’t come back for more.
MySpace: Ahhhhh, MySpace. They arguably started this whole social media thing to begin with. Today, MySpace is primarily used as a congregation point for younger people interested in pop culture. They’re evolving and seem to be finding a niche. Strengths: A well-known social media platform that most everybody has visited at one time or another. Weaknesses: They’re not the ubiquitous social media platform they once were.
Vimeo: Think of Vimeo as a high-end YouTube. It’s perfect for people interested in sharing their videos with a community of positive, encouraging creative professionals. Strengths: You gotta love a site that oozes upbeat, optimistic, life-affirming energy that Vimeo does. Weaknesses: It’s not a default site the way YouTube is, but that may change in the near future.
Yahoo: Like Google and Bing, this is not technically a social media platform. But it is a tool that ultimately can drive traffic to your website. Be sure to optimize your website so that search engines like Yahoo can see it. Strengths: Yahoo is one of the workhorses of the search engine world, so it’s always a good idea to keep it on your radar screen. Weaknesses: Is Yahoo a search engine? An online portal? A web magazine? Perhaps it’s all of these things. And perhaps that’s not a weakness after all.
YouTube: Of course, YouTube is one of the better-known platforms used to promote businesses. The key to YouTube is to keep the videos short and sweet. Make sure they solve the “what’s in it for me” equation. YouTube is perfect for “How To” videos, but it’s not a good place to upload the CEOs annual speech to shareholders. Strengths: YouTube is ubiquitous. Weaknesses: It’s a cluttered environment that can sometimes have some pretty racy videos on it. (Or so we’ve heard.)Do we accurately describe the platforms? Are there any important platforms that we’re missing? Are there any that should be deleted from the list?Do tell.Thanks!
About the Author
Jamie Turner is an internationally recognized author, speaker, and university professor who is a recipient of the Socialnomics “Top Keynote Speaker” award (along with Tony Robbins, Ariana Huffington, and Richard Branson). He’s also a regular guest on CNN and HLN where he contributes segments on marketing, persuasion, and leadership. He is an adjunct professor at both Emory University and the University of Texas and has been profiled in the world’s best-selling advertising textbook. Jamie is the co-author of several essential business books including How to Make Money with Social Media; Go Mobile; and Digital Marketing Growth Hacks. He is the founder of 60SecondMarketer.com and has a new YouTube series called IN:60 which is available on YouTube and was designated as one of 8 “Top Business YouTube Channels” in the nation by Wishpond.com. If you’d like to find find out more about having Jamie speak at your next event, click through to JamieTurner.Live.
Top Photo by John Rose: https://unsplash.com/photos/qWBoBpeOxjo