People Use Different Social Networks for Different Reasons

Social Media has already proven itself to be one of the most powerful and cost-efficient channels of communication for marketers. Now that almost everybody has an account in a social network regardless of their tech savvy, it’s simply foolish if a marketer doesn’t integrate social media to their campaigns in some form or another.

However, it’s not as simple as just creating an account for your brand or business in every single social network you can find. It is important to understand that people use different social networks for different reasons, and in order to be effective, you have to align your strategy, brand, and message according to which social network is being used by your target demographic and the purpose it serves for them.

Personal vs Professional Social Networking

It’s not unusual for people to have accounts in various social networking sites, but they will behave differently and will have different needs depending on the social network in question. Currently, there are two main distinctions: Personal and Professional networking.

Personal social networking means that a person is using the social network passively – they socialize, pass time, play games, and try to meet new people. Personal social networking mostly pertains to entertainment and leisure, and people who do it mostly interact with friends, family members, and celebrities or brands that they enjoy.

Professional social networking is a fairly newer concept, and pertains to networking in relation to people’s careers. They use it to find and meet new contacts, to follow up on the industry and its influencers, and to find career opportunities through socialization.

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Most Popular Social Networking Sites

Basically, the first few social networking sites that sprung up, like the now semi-defunct Friendster and Myspace were targeted towards personal use, as they were simply designed as ways for college kids to meet new people that they can hang out with.

1. Facebook – arguably the most popular social networking site right now, Facebook is frequently used by people to connect with their friends and relatives, where they share personal anecdotes, photos, videos and anything under the sun. It’s also used by famous companies or individuals to promote themselves, but these situations apply best to ones that relate to the entertainment industry. Facebook also has a gaming subsection frequented by people who prefer casual, browser-based games.

2. Google Plus – Plus is basically Google’s answer to Facebook, albeit its userbase is nowhere near the level achieved by Facebook, and what little they have isn’t as engaged nor loyal.

3. Twitter – this is basically a microblogging site, where people can post “tweets.” which is basically character-limited text updates. Twitter has the distinction of easily lending itself well to both social and personal social networking, as it can be used by people for socialization and goofing off, but can also be used by professionals and companies to post industry-related news and updates.

4. Pinterest – if Twitter is text-oriented, Pinterest is the opposite: it is driven more by images, as it allows users to “pin” pictures that they find interesting and use it as a starting point for conversations with other users.

5. LinkedIn – this is the social networking site that first brought the concept of professional social networking to the forefront. It is extremely targeted towards professional networking as people tend to use it to promote themselves and their CVs. It is also a good site for people looking to find new work in their respective industries. Don’t expect to find games and memes in here.

6. Tumblr – this, like Pinterest, is also image-oriented, but on a much broader scale. It seems to be geared towards young and creative individuals who use a mixture of text and images, as well as various creative layouts as promotional and conversation pieces.

7. Last.FM – if Twitter is for text and Pinterest is for images, Last.FM is geared more towards music. It is a great place for people who are musically inclined or people who want to promote their own music. It is also used by many people as an online radio.

8. Yelp! Inc. – Yelp is another professional social networking site. In spite of the seemingly social-oriented name, it is geared more towards local business reviews and discussions.

9. DeviantART – this social networking site caters to artists, be they professionals or indie, and allow its community to share, comment, and even sell their own artwork to other users or to random visitors.

10. Soundcloud – like Last.FM, soundcloud caters to musically inclined individuals and allow sharing of music, particularly creator owned ones.

11. Academia.Edu – this is another professional social networking site, but instead of being geared towards the corporate environment, it caters more to academics and researchers, or people with a liberal arts background. This is a great place for academically-inclined people and educators.

12. WattPad – for readers and authors, Wattpad allows its users to publish text content and to share them with each other. It has already become a breeding ground for authors in some countries, particularly Asian ones.

13. Formspring – it’s not as in-depth as other social networking sites, but works well as they can be integrated into Facebook and its ilk. It’s more of a social Q & A website that allows users to answer questions from friends and random visitors.

14. CrunchyRoll – crunchyroll is geared towards fans of anime, manga, and Japanese culture. It has forums, news, and profiles for its users, and premium users even have access to multimedia content, such as episodes of popular anime shows.

Bear in mind that even though the social networking sites themselves try to promote their own services as either professional or social, it is still up to the users how they can use their accounts, and it’s not unusual for people to use a service meant to be for professionals for socialization and passive entertainment, while there are also users who take advantage of personal-oriented social networking sites in order to further their career or promote their businesses and brands.

For instance, there are a lot of people nowadays using LinkedIn to promote personal sites and drive traffic to their pages. It’s proven to be effective and not even LinkedIn was able to prevent it from happening (LinkedIn tried by removing support for WordPress and Twitter, but people still found a way).

On the other side of the coin, the aforementioned Twitter is now being used by many businesses as internal communications tools, where managers and subordinates can keep in contact with each other and share information regarding their projects and strategies even outside of the office.

Optimizing Your Marketing Strategy Based on People’s Approach to Social Media

If you’re ever going to integrate Social Media to your marketing campaigns and strategies (and you should!), you need to optimize your strategy based on whether a person is approaching social media from a social or professional perspective.

First, you need to distinguish whether the person is using a specific social network for personal or for professional usage (as mentioned above, just because a social network is geared towards professionals does not necessarily mean your target demographic is using it as such). Your strategy isn’t dictated by the social networks themselves, but by your customers that are using said social networks.

Next, you need to actively engage your target demographic and court them by providing exclusive information, particularly the ones that address their needs and interests. If there’s one thing that social networks are good at – it’s with giving you an idea on what people are interested in, so take advantage of it.

Then, you should endeavor to build and nurture a meaningful relationship with your customers – this can be done by participating, sharing, and listening in on the community’s conversations. It is important to build a presence that people won’t assume to be forced or automated. Show that there is someone (or a set of “someones”) behind the social networking account of your company.

Lastly, you should keep in mind that social networking sites are also subject to the whims of its users – a lesson that Friendster and Myspace failed to learn in time – and you should always keep your ears close to the ground, so that you can adjust your strategy or adopt new ones when changes occur, so that your approach will still be effective and in line with the target demographics’ mindset and purpose.


3 Responses to “People Use Different Social Networks for Different Reasons”

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  2. […] no mistake about it; e-mail is still the most powerful marketing channel today. However, social media is also showing their worth, and it’s foolish to only pick e-mail exclusively when you can be using social media as an […]

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