12 Types of Social Media for Marketers (+ Examples & Benefits) 

Algorithm changes, fast-moving trends, and an endless sea of content can often make it confusing for entrepreneurs to know how to craft a social media strategy that translates into business growth. If you’re not sure which types of social media marketing work for you and your lead generation process, it can be difficult to see much ROI.

Getting familiar with the options you have is the best way to future-proof your social media marketing strategy. Knowing more about the types of social media platforms you should be using and what social media is used for will offer a competitive edge in an already over-saturated market.

The 12 Types of Social Media You Need To Be Paying Attention To

If you’re still reading, you already understand the vast number of benefits you can see from using social media marketing for your business. With 93% of internet users logging onto social media every day, you have a deep pool of untapped potential customers to swim in. Think of it this way: If the internet is a highway, social media is the advertising on the billboards you see as you pass by.

Our team of marketing and sales experts – entrepreneurs themselves – have crowdsourced their social media knowledge to create this resource. While this list isn’t comprehensive, it’s solid information that can help you build a scalable lead generation process that taps into your audience on social media.

1. Social Media Sites (The Obvious One)

Social media networking sites offer a shared space for people to interact together on a universal platform. Facebook is the most-used social media site with about 3 billion active daily users, and while it’s definitely a household name, there are also plenty of other social media platforms that businesses can leverage. 

Users can sign up for an account (either business or personal) that allows them to share content, follow other accounts, and engage in and comment on posts. These sites are great for driving traffic to content-rich business websites and building trust through authentic engagement and high-quality quotes.

Examples: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram

Quick tip: There are more than 3.5 billion social media users active today, and they certainly aren’t all on the same platform or have the same interests. Take time to research stats for each site and compare them to key data points of your target demographic.

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2. Video Sharing Sites

Video has long been the darling of social media content, and for good reason: Video-sharing sites allow Internet users to absorb information quickly and without reading or scrolling. YouTube takes the #2 spot on the list of most-used video-sharing sites with a staggering 2.9 billion daily active users.

Examples: TikTok, YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook Watch

Quick tip: “YouTube” and “tutorials” go together like peas and carrots. Use video-sharing sites to post how-to content that addresses your customers’ pain points and gives them tangible evidence that your business is committed to keeping them informed and engaged. This can also act as an extension of your customer service department that can work to help your customers even when you’re not in the office.

3. Photo Sharing Sites

What would social media be without the ubiquity of photo-sharing sites? People love to see pics – scientific research shows that visual content drives more engagement than text/written social media posts. The phrase “Instagram-worthy” has become a part of our marketing vocabulary, and you’re way late to the party if you don’t have a Pinterest account. 

Examples: Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat

Quick tip: Do you have a brand that people just love to post about? Let them generate visual assets like photos or videos, and post-user-generated content (UGC) on photo-sharing sites. This shows that you see what they’re saying about your products and services, and creates a bond of trust that you’re engaged in helping solve their problems and celebrate their success.

4. Audio Sharing Sites

These sites and other social audio apps exploded in popularity during the last few years, as video conferencing and remote working tools became the norm. Users are looking for a different experience than video, and while this type of social media is still evolving, its success echoes that of podcasts.

Examples: Clubhouse, Facebook Audio Rooms, Twitter Spaces

Quick tip: Use this type of social media to connect directly with customers and provide content that tells a story about your mission with audio vignettes, building an ongoing, serial relationship with listeners – similar to podcasting. Another great use of social audio sites is offering a Q&A session in real-time.

5. Livestreaming Apps

What’s better for building trust with your audience than unedited videos streamed in real-time? Recent stats show that users spent more than 548 billion hours in 2021 watching live streaming video content on social media apps. There’s a whole array of events that are popular in live streaming format, including industry conventions, major product launches, gaming tournaments – the list is endless.

Examples: Twitch, Facebook Live, YouTube Live

Quick tip: Give your customers incentive to tune into live social media content by offering limited-time deals for viewers as you stream. Other great live streaming content includes behind-the-scenes content about your team or products, and short teasers to build excitement about upcoming events.

6. Social Messaging Apps

Social messaging apps allow for direct-message capabilities between users on the same platform. Several social media sites and apps (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) have social messaging features, and there are also standalone mobile social messaging apps available for both personal and business use.

Social messaging apps are a surefire way for your brand to build a pipeline of trust. Some of the bigger social messaging apps offer personalization by way of AI-fueled chatbots; this strategy is widely used by businesses and brands that would like one more channel to provide stellar customer experience.

Examples: WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Google Business Messenger, Twitter DMs

Quick tip: Solopreneurs who are already stretched thin can use automated social messaging content to streamline other processes as part of a more robust approach to marketing. For example, use social messaging apps to drive email subscriber sign-ups or ask current and past customers to submit an online review to help bolster brand trust even more.

7. Disappearing Content Apps

These types of social media apps use FOMO to their full advantage, posting ephemeral content that generally has a shelf life of only 24 hours or less. Disappearing content has become especially popular among the Gen Z crowd and even younger demographics. Ephemeral posts give social media content a sense of urgency, motivating customers to act quickly.

Examples: Snapchat, Instagram Stories, Facebook Stories

Quick tip: This is arguably the best type of social media content to use if you want to spread the good word about time-sensitive deals and discounts, especially around the holidays. Use disappearing content apps to share info about flash sales, last-minute appearances, and pop-up events, and let viewers know they might miss the good stuff if they don’t move fast.

8. Social Shopping Networks and Platforms

Technology is awesome, and there’s no doubt it’s made online shopping and payments a breeze. Social shopping networks and platforms take advantage of this tech and layer on the popularity and ubiquity of social media to create the perfect UX for digitally-savvy shoppers. Big-name social media platforms also use that tech to help brands boost conversions on social media. 

Examples: Facebook Marketplace, Pinterest Shoppable Pins, Shoppable Instagram

Quick tip: Start by creating shops on Facebook and Instagram, and integrate third-party eCommerce tools (like Shopify) with your existing Pinterest business account. This makes it much easier to manage online sales without investing a ton into eCommerce development of your brand. Once you’ve built out inventory and built up an audience, tap into live streaming and ephemeral content to promote your shops, which in turn works to create an efficient lead generation-conversion cycle.

9. Discussion Forums

It seems that discussion forums are as old as the internet itself, and a prime piece of real estate for brands and businesses to practice social listening. Your customers have strong opinions about what you do, the industry you’re in, and the products and services you are (or aren’t) offering. These conversations are data-rich social proof and can be used to build your trust with your audience.

Additionally, it’s not uncommon to see branded discussion forums on a business website of larger companies. Because discussion forums need to be moderated by actual humans, it does take some manpower to ensure things don’t go south and negatively impact brand image. However, if implemented correctly, a branded discussion forum can create a rich library of resources to help your customers help themselves.

Examples: Reddit, Quora, Stack Overflow

Quick tip: Participate in subreddit discussions that allow your brand or business to position itself as a trusted authority. Answer questions about what you do, what’s happening in your industry, and how your brand works to solve pain points. You can also use discussion forums to gather feedback on current and future products.

10. Microblogging Platforms

Without Twitter, microblogging likely wouldn’t exist – it was the preeminent microblogging platform and remains hugely popular for both personal and business use. There are other microblogging sites that have adopted the popularity of short, bite-sized posts with limited character count that are best enjoyed in real-time.

Examples: Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn

Quick tip: Use hashtags on microblogging sites to join fast-moving conversations about what’s happening in the world or even just in your industry. Share time-sensitive, trending news that highlights what sets you apart from the competition and builds trust that you’re staying ahead of the curve for your customers.

11. Community-based Social Media Platforms

These types of social media platforms use common interests to bring communities together. Focusing on a niche or topic, they provide a place for like-minded members to collaborate, share ideas, and build relationships with other industry peers. Users on community-based social media and blogging sites also tend to be active and engaged/

Examples: Medium, LinkedInPulse, GrowthHackers

Quick tip: Use these posts to organically drive reader traffic back to your website, particularly your blog. It’s a subtle way to build links and expand visibility of your blog content on channels other than traditional social media sites. Also, because these are essentially leads segmented by interest, they are likely further down the sales funnel than a casual social media user would be.

12. Social Review Sites

Online reviews have become a crucial indicator when it comes to sussing out the trustworthiness of a business or a brand. In fact, research shows that nearly 40% of shoppers trust online reviews to guide their buyer’s journey. Online review sites offer advertising opportunities as well, something that will offer better return on investment the more abundant and positive your online reviews tend to be.

Examples: Yelp, Angie’s List, Google Business Profile

Quick tip: If you choose to focus on growing your social review presence, make sure you have a definitive reputation management infrastructure in place. Making the most of these sites means responding to negative reviews quickly, and showing your appreciation for good business feedback online. Good, bad, or ugly, you can use these reviews to improve your business.

You Don’t Have To Use Them All But You Need To Use Some

Honing in on the types of social media marketing platforms, apps, and sites that work best for your brand is a proven, strategic way to grow your brand, build trust with your audience, and flex 

your thought leadership muscles. Once you find your focus, you’ll be able to future-proof your marketing and growth strategies to weather challenges like algorithms or a deluge of content.

Want to know the best way to leverage LinkedIn to get qualified sales opportunities? 

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