Why You Need to Know the Difference Between Social Media Platforms


According to a study by Cloohawk Media, many of today’s social media marketers still struggle with the basics such as choosing the right social platform, despite having a better understanding of the social media landscape. The study reveals that many marketers are also finding it challenging to get followers, measure ROI, and manage time. Understanding the differences between the various social media platforms can be a great first step in tackling these challenges.

The following are some clear differences between the various social platforms and reasons why understanding these differences can be beneficial for your marketing campaign.

Number of Users

The different social media platforms have a varying number of users. At the top of the list, you’ll find Facebook with more than 2.3 billion active monthly users. Instagram has 1+ billion, Twitter over 320 million, and LinkedIn with just over 300 million follow. At the bottom of the pile, meanwhile, are smaller platforms with as few as several thousand users.

Understanding these numbers is vital as it gives you a clue of where the majority of your target audience is likely to be. Facebook, with the highest number of active users, for instance, becomes a must-have irrespective of your niche. The less popular platforms, meanwhile, are optional.

Intended Purpose

Each social platform has unique goals. Facebook is primarily a place where family and friends connect to share light moments, and it also has the most advanced business ad platforms for marketers to use. Instagram, meanwhile, is an image and video-centric platform best known for B2C activities. Twitter, on the other hand, is for fast-paced news while LinkedIn is a professional business networking platform. Pinterest is a cross between Instagram and LinkedIn, where you can share images with links to blog posts or websites, and it is often referred to as a visual search engine.

Understanding the intended purpose of each platform will tell you how to approach your social media campaign. LinkedIn, for example, is exclusively for professionals looking to connect with like-minded individuals. Facebook, on the other hand, is for casual/informal conversations with fans and friends.


“Demographics” cover identifies such as gender, age, religion, race, education, and income. According to a recent Marketing Charts study, the various social platforms have widely varying demographics. While the majority of adults use Facebook and as many as 73% of US adults use YouTube, for example, only 27% use SnapChat. Even more telling, only 6% of those aged 65+ use WhatsApp. It’s also worth noting that more women than men use Instagram and Pinterest, but more men use YouTube. Also, about half of adults earning $75k or more use LinkedIn.

These variations should help you determine the best place to invest your time and money. If your brand targets women, for example, then Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest would be excellent marketing platforms to consider. However, if the targeted women are boomers in their 60s, Facebook becomes the better platform over Instagram.

Unique Marketing Features

Finally, each social media platform comes with unique marketing tools. Indeed, some platforms now allow users to create business profiles separate from their personal profiles. Often, the business profiles pack additional marketing features not available to personal users. Facebook and Instagram are two such platforms with unique business platforms.

Taking time to learn about each social platform will allow you to understand the various marketing tools available to users (personal or business). Aside from hashtags and trends, Twitter for Business, for example, gives users access to Twitter Analytics and conversation trackers. Facebook for business, meanwhile, gives you access to Facebook Insights, Call to Actions (CTAs), Scheduled Posts, and Similar Page Suggestions.

Maximize Your Gains

As you can see, no two social media platforms are the same. They have a varying number of users, different demographics, and different marketing features. To gain the most from your social media campaign, take time to understand these differences, and discover where your target audience is spending their time online.

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