A Basic Introduction to 10 Popular Social Networks

A Basic Introduction to 10 Popular Social Networks

An Introduction to 10 Social Networks - 2013 Edition by FollowMeSticker.com

A Quick Start Introduction covering the basics of 10 popular Social Networks and how they can benefit your organization.

What is a Social Network? Social Networks are web-based services that allow people to interact with each other to make new connections and grow those connections online. Each person has their own limited representation of themselves (a web page with some basic information), often called a “Profile”. People who use the service are known as “users” and can share ideas, pictures, posts, activities, events, and interests with the people in their network or publicly to the entire social network. People can interact with other users within the Social Network via text or instant messages, by broadcasting short messages to everyone in their network, as well as viewing other user “Profiles”.

Each Social Network has many distinguishing characteristics or features that allow users to personalize their profiles, user experiences, and connections in various ways. Each Social Network can be used or leveraged for business or community building by taking advantage of these features to highlight particular aspects of businesses, brands, products, and services.

Social Networks use different lingo or terms to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Depending on the network, organizations may be able to set up “Profiles” (sometimes called Pages or Brand Profiles) as well personal profiles. By setting up a business Page or Brand Profile, they are differentiating between personal profiles versus business brands and pages, whereby they can develop an online following independently around the organization or brand. For many Social Networks a shorter link can be set up to make it much easier for people to find either “Profiles”, or Pages (Brand Profiles). This is sometimes called a “Username”. Customizing brand usernames on brand pages is critical for recognizability and to make it even easier for customers, fans, and friends to find your page in the vast ocean of the social network. With your custom username clearly identifying your brand page, you are also more clearly creating and defining your brand identity as a whole and on that Social Network.

Over the last few years Social Networks have become more mobile, allowing for more real-time interaction or connections on-the-go.

How do some of the most popular Social Networks rank according to Google Search Trends?

1. Facebook 2. Youtube 3. Twitter 4. Instagram 5. Tumblr 6. LinkedIn 7. Pinterest 8. SoundCloud 9. Google+ 10. Foursquare

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube Google+ are the most popular social networks with businesses and marketers. Facebook (1 billion), YouTube (800 million - 1 billion) and Google+ (343 million) followed by Twitter and LinkedIn with 200 million active monthly users each." (TECHi)

What is Facebook? (1 billion users and counting) Facebook is a Social Network that allows its users to post updates (pictures, text, video, etc.) either privately to their connections, or publicly to anyone on the internet. A connection between two profiles on Facebook are called “friends.” A history of posts are displayed chronologically as part of the user profile called the “Timeline”. Users can read other posts on both the network itself and from their connections on what is called the “News feed”. Facebook allows organizations, brands, and just about anyone to create a separate timeline for that organization, often called a “Fan Page”. Users may then subscribe to updates or signify that they are interested in receiving occasional new information from a “Fan Page” by pressing a “Like” button on the “Fan Page.” Users can then comment or show interest on each new posting from a Fan Page. Organizations may also choose to advertise via digital banners across the network to reach new audiences.

Who is using Facebook? Two-thirds of online adults say that they are Facebook users. Women are more likely than men to be Facebook users, and Facebook use is especially common among younger adults. The average users are comprised of women and adults, ages 18 to 29. -PewInternet.org

How can Facebook benefit your organization? Facebook is great for slowly building an audience using images, news updates, discounts, and industry relevant tips. With Facebook, you’ll get a broad target audience since both younger and older generations are using Facebook more frequently. Facebook can be used to benefit your organization by raising awareness - increasing word of mouth, attracting new fans, and growing your community. Many businesses and organizations use their Facebook Fan Page as a miniature version of their larger website or instead of a website because it is easy to build, manage, and an analytics system is already integrated into Facebook Page management.

What is YouTube? (More than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month) YouTube lets its users create their own video channel where they may upload video files to share privately with their network or publicly with the internet. Videos can easily be viewed and shared on YouTube. Statistics, or “Stats”, on how many people have seen the video are called “Views”. Brands can create their own channel (just like users) and can customize the look and feel of the “Channel Page” in a similar fashion to a “Profile”. Users can also subscribe to a channel to receive notifications when a new video is uploaded and ready to view. This is how many brands develop an audience on YouTube and there is great incentive to do so because the stats on YouTube are staggering. According to YouTube, over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month and 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Millions of subscriptions happen each day, and the number of people subscribing has more than doubled from 2012 to early 2013. According to Nielsen, YouTube reaches more US adults, ages 18-34, than any cable network.

Who is using YouTube? The biggest audience is Women between the ages of 18-24. YouTube reaches 55% of all women ages 18-54, with an audience of 34.7 million women between 18-54. The network also reaches 62% of all men ages 18-24, with a total audience of 27.9 million men aged between 18-54. Teens are the third largest demographic reaching 54% of all teens with an audience of 21.6 million teens. --Statistics and information from YouTube.

How can YouTube benefit your organization? YouTube videos range in length from 30 seconds to several minutes, depending on content. Many businesses and organizations have videos 2-3 minutes or less in length. Leveraging Video can introduce many new customers or fans to your organization. Brands use YouTube for product introductions and reviews, as well as instructional and beneficial advice, tutorials, or “DIY” projects. YouTube is also used to tell a story about an organization or rally support for a cause. Organizations can build a following on YouTube by encouraging viewers to subscribe to their channel. Subscribers will then get notified when a new video is ready to view. YouTube also has a video advertising program that allows sophisticated demographic targeting to help your organization advertise locally.

What is Twitter? (200 million users) Twitter is a Social Network that facilitates short messages or “updates” shared between its users. Twitter limits a post update to nothing more than 140 characters per update. These updates are called “Tweets”. All tweets are publicly visible unless the entire Twitter profile is Private. Users can set up a profile and username (usernames start with the @ symbol) and begin developing a “following”. In order to have another user’s updates appear in your feed, you must first be “following” them. Once you are following another user, whenever they post a short update, it will appear in your “Twitter Feed”. Depending on how many other users you “follow” this can become a stream of constant updates. This can make Twitter a vibrant, active, and fast-paced community as “Tweets” will appear in real-time as they are posted. Twitter’s mobile aspect also allows for real-time updates as they happen locally. Twitter is widely used for both personal and work related use, often users log on to get news updates from information sources they are very interested in. Tweets can contain links to videos, photo’s and special hyperlinks called hashtags. Hashtags are on other Social Networks but are most commonly used on Twitter. Hashtags are a way of categorizing and sorting “Tweets” into a topic.

Who is using Twitter? 200 Million users are on Twitter every month, 8% of which are U.S. Internet users. The biggest demographic of Twitter users are females in their 20’s according to eMarketer. Organizations and Individuals alike use Twitter to make announcements, comments, and generally interact in a very public way. Some especially influential individuals (Celebrities, the President of the U.S., and even the Pope) have Twitter profiles to encourage action and raise awareness for causes.

How can Twitter benefit your organization? Twitter is great for talking directly to new and existing customers, posting service messages, instant and real-time updates, re-tweet competitions and offers, and hashtag posts. Many brands develop a presence on Twitter to allow an open line of communication and to facilitate short messages between customers. Several large companies and brands have utilized Twitter as an additional form of Customer Support to respond to concerns, complaints, and comments. Contests or promotions can be run on Twitter to increase sales and gain a larger following. Large conversations and sharing of interesting information also take place on Twitter. A big misconception is that every user who is your Follower will read all of your Tweets (or any), as well is that some may not even be real! (Fakes). It is highly encouraged to try to make sure you have real followers who are genuinely interested in your topics or content. There are many services that offer to sell you followers in large numbers at low prices and it is highly recommend to avoid such services. If done correctly, organizations can develop a relevant and interested Twitter following and leverage an effective community.

What is Pinterest? (70 million users) Pinterest is a Social Network that focuses on beautiful or interesting imagery. Every new “post” must contain an image of some kind, either a photograph, graphic, or artwork, known on Pinterest as “Pins”. Pinterest is the most visual of the social channels, encouraging users to share their ideas, products, activities, books, resources, services and more with vibrant and compelling images. The interface or method for browsing new imagery is what makes Pinterest unique, as photos are laid out in a grid-like pattern for easy browsing on computers, tablets, and smartphones. Users “Pin” an image by uploading the image file, or linking an image from a web source. Other users can “Re-Pin” (taking the image and placing it in their own collections) or “Like” an image by pressing a small heart button indicating to the original poster that you find the image interesting as well. Images can be Tagged and can appear in search results as well as groups. The “News Feed” or Home Page shows images (or “Pins”) based on who you are “Following”. Pinterest also has a feature called “Boards” which allows people to group together collections of images in categories of their choice, usually something they are very interested in. Other users may choose to follow only these boards (or all the boards of another user), at which time when a new photo is posted an image from a specific board may appear on the users home page.

Who is using Pinterest? Pinterest’s users are 80% female and the biggest age group is 25-34. 68% of Pinterest users live in the USA but it is slowly and steadily growing more popular around the world.

How can Pinterest benefit your organization? If your organization has some great imagery to share, then Pinterest is an excellent fit. Many retail stores will find Pinterest a good fit because they have products to showcase as well as discounts and offers to share. Many organizations share tips and helpful information on Pinterest boards to grow more followers. They do this by pinning a key image and linking it to their website, blog, or a post. If an image is particularly interesting it may be “Re-Pinned” over and over (shared again and again) within the Pinterest community.This viral-like activity can significantly increase the amount of visitors to that page, known on pinterest as the “Source” of the image. Organizations that cater generally to a female audience can greatly benefit from Pinterest. For local organizations it is advised to use Pinterest’s search tool for local people and companies to follow their boards and to begin growing a local audience. Organizations can include their city and location information on their Pinterest profile which helps to increase placement in local Google search results.

What is Instagram? Instagram started as a mobile-only platform for the extremely popular iPhone but has since moved onto more platforms such as Android and the web. The social network service was driven purely by imagery until mid 2013 when it began to include short videos (generally 30 seconds or less). Users can share photos to “followers” that have subscribed to receive new photos. Followers will see these images appear in their feed when they login to Instagram. Users can also choose to follow other Instagram users to see their photos. The appeal of Instagram is the ‘coolness’ factor of applying vintage and unique filters or effects to images. Users can snap a quick photo using their smartphone camera, apply a filter to enhance the appeal of the image, and instantly upload it to their network of followers. Like other networks, Instagram has “hashtags” that help users discover new photos, organizations, brands, events and other users.

Who is using Instagram? (130 million users) Instagram is primarily Female, with 68.2% Female users, and 31.8% Male (Appdata.com) with the largest age group being 18 to 25 (34.4%). 16 Billion images are shared on the network every day.

How can Instagram benefit your organization? Organizations can develop a local following on Instagram by finding and interacting with local users as well as encouraging local people to post and tag photos about their organization. Restaurants and retail locations post photos of food or products as well as an inside view of their establishment, events, and staff. These show off the personality and atmosphere of the organization. Brands can share photos and mention a story to go along with the photo. Similar to Pinterest, organizations can grow their following by “Liking” other photos and commenting on other local photos. Your organization can also search and find local businesses or organizations using http://worldc.am and interact with them on Instagram. Many organizations use Instagram to hold photo contests or giveaways by including a hashtag to track and promote the contest or cause.

What is Google+? Google+ is a social network created by Google. It differs in several ways from other Social Networks. One of the main differences is that if you have a Google account, you already have a Google+ account. When you sign into any Google service, such as Gmail, Analytics, or Calendar you’re also signing into Google+. Another difference is that Google+ encourages users to place each other (as well as brands and interests) into groups called Circles. There are also somewhat complicated rules that are in play when deciding to share content. Circles allows a user to only share within a specific Circle or set of Circles. Only users who are in that Circle and have YOU in a circle as well will see the content you share. This makes Google+ a very private network, much like in the real world, where many conversations are done privately. Google+ has a Communities feature whereby users can follow a particular topic or interest, and certain posts from the Communities they follow will appear on their home page. Google+ “liking” feature is called +1, which is similar to “liking” a post on other networks. The difference is that +1’s can be shared publicly and may be used to help others find interesting content. Google+ integrates to a service called Google+ Local, which is a database of local establishments, reviews, and photos pertaining to those local venues. Google+ is a fast growing network and increasingly is taking on many of the other social networks in terms of features and activity.

Who is using Google+? Google+ is currently dominated by 67% Males who are typically technology-oriented, in the age group of 18-28, primarily located in the US. There is a large and growing global percentage of users as Google+ integrates additional services.

How can Google+ benefit your organization? There are several very big benefits to registering and setting up a Google+ Local Page for your organization. The first major benefit is that people are already searching on Google for similar organizations nearby. Once you have created a Google+ Local account, your organization will appear in the search results users are viewing. Organizations can encourage engagement and offer coupons and discounts right on the Google+ Local page, as well as encourage new positive reviews. Google+ Local now has the Zagat rating scores and verified Google+ accounts for reviews, creating an environment for truthful and accurate reviews of establishments. Positive reviews are very effective when it comes to obtaining new visitors or customers and high activity on the Google+ Local page means more visitors overall. Google+ Local also integrates with Google Maps, showing your location right on the map. Since it is part of Google+, customers who write reviews can be communicated with on the platform as well. Google+ Local also allows organizations to upload photos of their location, including even a virtual indoor tour of the establishment by a certified Google photographer, showing off your organization and inviting new visitors. Many organizations have begun to use Google+ Local over Yelp because of these many benefits.

What is Tumblr? Tumblr is both a microblogging platform and social network as its users can post articles, pictures, photos, and videos as well as follow and repost from other users on the network. Similar to other Social Networks, when you follow another user on Tumblr their updates will appear on your home feed. One difference between Tumblr and other networks is that you can “Reblog” (similar to ReTweet) another user’s Post, meaning you will be sharing this exact post to your friends. One major difference is that the reblogged Post retains the amount of times it has been shared, as well as the specific users who have shared it in a list beneath the post, creating a history of sharers on each post. This feature is essentially a form of real-time analytics and metrics that allow for instant analysis of Engagement. This feature can also lead to further Social Activity and exploration on the network as each sharer listed can be viewed and explored by pressing on their username. Tumblr thus encourages the exploration and finding of new users and interesting posts through this unique feature. Tumblr also uses tags and searchable tags (similar to hashtags). Tumblr has become highly visual and is an especially immersive experience when viewed and interacted with on a Tablet computer.

Who is using Tumblr? 64% of Tumblr visitors are in the US and 67% of its users are under 35 years old, while 32% are between 18 to 24 years old. 54% of Tumblr’s users are Male.

How can Tumblr benefit your organization? Since Tumblr is primarily a “microblogging” platform, many organizations use it as their official blog to post updates, photos, videos, and news about their organization with the added benefit that it is a social network with users, hashtags, reblogs, and searchable content! Another benefit is that you can obtain a custom URL for your Tumblr blog as well as custom branding for your blog page, including font size, style, page colors, etc. Brands are using Tumblr to create instructional how-to’s, recipe posts, and “DIY” videos. Other organizations are posting beautiful imagery and photographs relating to their products or services. These organizations have found that microblogging on Tumblr increases reach and engagement through comments, sharing of the organization’s photos, reblogging, as well as the ability to find potential new audienced on the network. Some brands offer customer discounts and coupons on their Tumblr pages.

What is Foursquare? Foursquare is a Social Network that allows users to ‘check-in’ to a location using a mobile device that has the Foursquare App. This check-in signifies that an individual is within an establishment, often to write a review, to post photos of the establishment, as well as to alert ‘friends’ (Foursquare connections) of their whereabouts. Foursquare offers its regular users new recommendations and encourages exploration of nearby places. Some establishments will offer rewards or discounts for customers who check-in. Foursquare also rewards visitors with graphical ‘badges’ and ‘symbols’ (graphical trophies) based on the check-in locations. These badges and symbols help to make Foursquare more like a game, whereby an individual who checks in the most times can become a ‘mayor’ with a ‘king’ symbol that signifies he/she is now the ‘king’ of the locality. If another user checks in more they can ‘oust’ the existing mayor and become the new mayor. Users can share their favorite places and achievements with their ‘friends’ as well as find new ‘friends’ on the network.

Who is using Foursquare? The stats on Foursquare are staggering, with 3 million check-ins per day and over 30 million people worldwide using the App. According to Foursquare, over a million Merchants are using the Foursquare Merchant Platform, a tool to allow establishments to set up a profile on the Social Network to encourage more local visitors.

How can Foursquare benefit your organization? Foursquare makes it easy to cultivate local visitors and encourage loyal visitors by allowing any location to offer deals, specials and coupons. These act as incentives for visiting the location and reward visitors for checking-in with specials and digital “badges”. Foursquare makes it easy for visitors to discover new and interesting places, as well as posting reviews about your establishment. Local venue owners can take advantage of several monitoring possibilities when they claim a local profile on Foursquare. For example: how many times and how frequently people are checking in, user demographics, time-of-day statistics, as well as how check-ins are shared on other Social Networks. Foursquare also has a targeted advertising solution for local organizations to reach new audiences by specifically targeting visitors who are more likely to take advantage of your offer or discount.

What is SoundCloud? SoundCloud is the Social Network for audio. Musicians, bands, podcast studios, radio stations, new organizations, and many other groups all upload and share music on this Social Network. Similar to YouTube, SoundCloud allows users to upload an audio clip to the network. Other users can then listen to, comment on, and share that audio clip with other users on SoundCloud or around the web. SoundCloud audio links can be customized and easily shared on other networks, such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as easily placed on Websites and Blogs. Once an audio “Track” is uploaded, users can choose to “Tweet” it out on Twitter automatically. Similar to other Social Networks, you can choose to follow other users as well as repost/reshare another user’s uploaded audio track. SoundCloud also has groups that you can follow and discover new audio to listen to, as well as tags to help categorize audio tracks.

Who is using SoundCloud? (40 million users, 200 million listeners) SoundCloud is not exclusively for musicians. According to a July 17th, 2013 article from USA TODAY, “President Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg have signed on to SoundCloud to share their speeches. Comedian Adam Carolla, broadcaster Ryan Seacrest and musicians Kelly Rowland and Beyoncé also post their work on SoundCloud.” SoundCloud is being described as “YouTube for Audio” and many Podcast shows, organizations, and news shows are uploading their audio content. DJ Mixes and Music Shows are popular as well. As of early 2013, SoundCloud had 40 million users and 200 million listeners worldwide. According to QuantCast U.S. Traffic Statistics, the majority of users are 60% Male between the ages of 18-34 and 89% of listeners are in their home.

How can SoundCloud benefit your organization? Organizations can leverage SoundCloud by posting “Podcasts”, news soundbites, and audio updates. Some Brands use utilize SoundCloud to add sound elements to their website, while other brands are increasingly using SoundCloud to convert existing content into audible chunks and more polished “Podcast” episodes. SoundCloud is ideal for artists and musicians seeking to gain more listeners and fans of their music.

What is LinkedIn? LinkedIn is a Social Network that focuses primarily in creating and maintaining professional and business-oriented social connections.

When you create a LinkedIn account, you are essentially inputting portions of your resume into a digital, work-related “Profile”. Your work history, professional photograph, endorsements, skills and other pertinent information is listed on your LinkedIn Profile. In 2011, LinkedIn introduced “Skills” which allows other users on the network to tag your profile with a list of skills. For example: Carpentry, Binding, Talent Acquisition. LinkedIn allows users to join groups and participate in professional discussion forums as well as recommend or endorse other users. LinkedIn users spend time on LinkedIn to explore and get updates from companies of interest, connect with colleagues and to seek potential new career opportunities.

Who is using LinkedIn? LinkedIn reached 200 Million Members in early 2013, and is mainly used by people over 40 years old. (Forbes) In 2011, it was adding approximately two new members every second. (Techcrunch)

How can LinkedIn benefit your organization? LinkedIn has a way for brands to set up a “Company Page” which is similar to a Fan Page or Brand Page on other networks. This allows users to learn more about any company they are interested in. Users may choose to “Follow” a Company Page to receive updates from that company. For many businesses this is a great opportunity to tell a story about the history of the company as well as share pertinent updates. Many organizations post a list of products or services available with information pertaining to each. Another great use is to share open positions and job opportunities for your company. LinkedIn is a great resource for recruitment and strengthening connections between local businesses. Brands that focus on business-to-business sales may greatly benefit from leveraging LinkedIn.

We hope this guide will help you or your organization, band, brand, non-profit, or any other group decide which networks will help the most! If you have found any of this information valuable, please help others find their way to this guide by sharing it with friends or family, or on the social networks! If you have found an error in this introductory guide, please let us know!