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The Pros and Cons of Each of the Major Social Media Platforms: Explained

At a loss as to what social media would suit your business? Not to worry; this guide will run you through the pros and cons of the most mainstream social media platforms right now!


While having a presence on all major platforms is far from a bad thing, there are sometimes not enough hours in the day to justify existing everywhere. This guide will help you figure out where to specialise and funnel your social media endeavours, depending on your business, ideal customer, and the type of social media content you produce.



Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg’s brainchild, this platform is so ubiquitous that it is often surprising to meet someone who doesn’t have a profile on it. Numerically this equates to over two billion monthly active users (!) who spend considerable time scrolling through their feeds and watching uploaded videos. In fact, video content (especially around the three-minute mark) does exceptionally well on Facebook, so if you create a lot of video content – maybe as a motivator or coach you do a lot of vlogging, or if you’re an animator, in a film-related industry, etc. – Facebook is a good place to upload it. While there are considerable drawbacks for businesses – in particular, an algorithm that heavily de-prioritises organic content from business pages – it is worth having at least a profile on Facebook anyway, as it confirms to any curious customers/clients that your business is legit.


Pros:

- Loads of active users across age groups (over two billion)

- Algorithm that promotes video content (around three minutes long is best)

- Provides confirmation of legitimacy should people search your business

- Even if posted content is not prioritised on users’ feeds, your page can serve as a ‘window shop’ if customers/clients search for you online

- Easy to set up and lots of free scheduling tools available (namely Creator Studio and Business Suite. These also make cross-posting to/from Instagram super easy)

- Ability to add products and sell directly through Facebook Shop function

- Other functions include live streaming, creating event pages, and creating polls/Q+As


Cons:

- As of 2021, the Facebook algorithm de-prioritises organic content from businesses in favour of posts from friends and family; this means the likelihood of people seeing your posts is much lower than on other platforms

- There is evidence that the algorithm especially de-prioritises posts with captions that contain external links (e.g., to your website), meaning it is difficult to convert visibility and engagement from Facebook posts into website visits

- Hashtag functionality is practically null (has very little effect on visibility and engagement)

- Generally low rates of engagement for the reasons listed above




Instagram

Instagram is kind of like Facebook’s cooler and younger cousin; it has a bit more of an aesthetic focus and edge, making it a great place to really sell your brand on a visual level. Like Facebook, it has an absurd number of active monthly users: around one billion, the majority of whom are 34 years old or younger. It is also quite a versatile platform with a variety of different types of posts, including stories, carousels, reels, and Instagram Live. The latter is particularly conducive to collaborations as you can invite others to join your livestream. This means there are a lot of different ways you can promote your business and share content without being too intrusive on your followers’ feeds. For example, you can post on your story that you have a new post, which users can easily skip through if they’ve already seen it, or go and find if they’re interested. Instagram is a great choice for pretty much any business because of this versatility, and is an absolute must-have if your business involves creating interesting visual content (e.g., artist, designer, etc.).


Pros:

- Visual focus is great for promoting your branding

- High number of active monthly users (one billion)

- Versatility in the types of posts you can create (photos, videos, live content, stories, polls, Q+As, etc.); visibility without intrusion

- Opportunities for collaboration via Instagram Live and the user tag function in captions

- Because users post and engage regularly, it easy to find and follow your ideal clients/customers; unlike Facebook, hashtags are a great way to achieve this also

- Like Facebook, easy/free to schedule posts on Creator Studio and Business Suite


Cons:

- Followers will unfollow and disengage if your content is too ‘salesy’; it is necessary to limit the number of product-related posts

- Instagram posts require at least one image (no text-only posts), which can make creating content for the platform more time-consuming. It is worth having at least a passing knowledge of image editing and design to be able to post regularly on Instagram (an app like Canva is your friend here!)

- Instagram captions containing external links cause them to be dead (i.e, clicking on them won’t redirect you to the link). You can put links in your bio, but it is more of an indirect way of promoting your website than on other platforms




LinkedIn


LinkedIn stands out from other social media platforms for being specifically business-oriented; consequently, its users are far more receptive to business-to-business content. As such, businesses that are seeking clients that are businesses (rather than businesses that market directly to consumers) tend to get the most out of LinkedIn. This is particularly true for personal profiles, where there are sections that allow your connections to write recommendations that are visible to anyone who searches you, allowing you to build up a positive reputation in your industry. You can generally expect more engagement on posts from personal profiles, though it is incredibly easy to cross-post content to your LinkedIn business page. Even if the content is duplicate, it is worthwhile setting up a LinkedIn business page as well as a personal profile for increased visibility and search engine optimisation.


Pros:

- Users receptive to B2B content; very effective for businesses whose clients are other businesses

- Can build up a professional network through the ‘connections’ function

- Others can help promote your business by engaging with your posts and writing recommendations for your profile

- Easy to cross-post between personal profile and LinkedIn business page (involves ticking a box)

- Can increase visibility and SEO via hashtags


Cons:

- Active users tend to be businesses rather than a larger pool of consumers that other platforms such as Instagram have; not as effective for businesses selling directly to consumers

- Fewer opportunities for user interaction (i.e., no Q+As, etc.)

- More expenses if you choose to invest in LinkedIn Premium or if you want to schedule content on it (you will need a paid scheduler)




Twitter


Twitter has a bit of reputation for being a negative space, but this is less true for the business world. Its retweet format is especially handy for two-way interactions with clients/customers, meaning you can set up a more direct dialogue with them than on other platforms. If your business is nascent or experiencing a bit of dip, Twitter is a great way to collect feedback from your followers, who often use the platform to browse and retweet – sometimes even more so than writing their own tweets. Posts can be accompanied by up to four images or one video, but the real challenge with Twitter is to keep the caption within the character limit of just 280 (including hashtags). For businesses that promote information campaigns, these short-form captions can be limiting.


Pros:

- Large audience of 350 million users

- A good hashtag strategy means your posts can reach a wide range of people

- Two-way interaction means you can deliver high-quality customer service more easily

- Great resource for receiving feedback

- Can schedule content for free through Twitter Ads

- Can post images and/or videos, but tweets can also be text posts; useful for announcements, also less time-consuming

- Can create polls and Q+As for max engagement


Cons:

- Takes some time to figure out how to communicate effectively within the 280-character limit

- Tweets are posted chronologically, which means it’s easy for your posts to get lost; especially as users tend to follow tens or even hundreds of accounts

- Twitter can be a place where people bring their negativity in full force; any complaints or negative feedback you get will also be public

- Twitter users are often hostile and wary of accounts trying to sell to them; you have to make a real effort not to come across as ‘salesy’




TikTok


If you’re terrified of TikTok, don’t worry, you’re not the only one! It’s definitely a rising star in the world of social media platforms, but because its content is exclusively short-form videos, it takes a little while to get used to. While TikTok doesn’t have as many users as Facebook or Instagram (yet), its users are very active, with 90% checking their feed multiple times a day. Producing content that is immediately engaging is the key to success, as users flick through videos on their feed quickly and ruthlessly. It is worth noting that the current userbase is generally younger and more international than most platforms, so if this encompasses your ideal customer base, then now is the time to set up a TikTok account!


Pros:

- Large, very active userbase of potential customers (689 million)

- Offers great visibility to organic posts, which come across as less ‘salesy’ than ads

- Video content in general generates more engagement and interest, hence the popularity of the platform

- Hashtags, and in particular hashtag challenges, are a fantastic and easy way to engage and expand your audience


Cons:

- No shop function / way to sell directly through TikTok

- Content needs to be immediately eye-catching and engaging or it risks getting lost or ignored

- You either need to put some time and effort in creating videos or be comfortable in front of the camera in order to produce captivating content

- Can schedule in advance for free, but only ten days in advance; otherwise you will need a paid scheduler



Generally, it’s not a bad thing to be on all of these platforms if you have the time and resources to be present on all of them. Visibility for your business is rarely detrimental, and cross-posting the same content across the platforms isn’t the worst strategy. However, to get the most out of your social media endeavours, it may be worth specialising depending on your type of business, ideal customer, and the content you want to get out there. Hopefully this guide has helped you choose which ones are the best for you!


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