By now, we know that social media can be a powerful tool for marketing and building a brand image. After all, in one way or another, social apps and sites generally offer an outlet for companies to establish their image according to each platform’s chosen medium. But how do social media platforms brand themselves – how do they communicate what they have to offer, and who are they targeting? Today, we’re taking a look at a few of the most common apps for social media marketing, to understand how these platforms themselves are positioned, and therefore how best to activate them.
Often, Instagram feels very much like the catch-all social media platform, in that by now it has incorporated various features from other platforms – think reels, stories, direct messages, and shopping – and integrated them with its original posting feature. What remains the most classic element of the app, however, is the idea of the “grid,” or the combination and order of photos posted to a profile that together form the user’s holistic visual identity. As such, Instagram has become the ideal platform for personal branding, whether the user is truly doing so for business or not (to give you an idea: for a certain period of time, many users switched their accounts to Business mode, with their industry category set to “Just For Fun”). And with the relatively recent turn toward a more low-key posting culture – it’s not uncommon to see “photo dumps” of seemingly random images lumped together into a single post – this means that personal branding may also at times take a less curated, more casual approach as well.
Before it introduced new features like Snap Maps, listicle-style news, and even stories, Snapchat’s original and enduring feature was that content appeared and disappeared “forever” within seconds. As an experience, the app promises fun and lightheartedness to its users, with its ephemeral nature highlighted even in its tagline, “The fastest way to share a moment.” Paired with the app’s smiling ghost icon, bright color palette, and cartoonish face filters, the narrative of snapchat is casual, carefree, making it the perfect platform for short-form content from Buzzfeed, Vice, and Cosmopolitan, and other entertainment-oriented publications.
Despite the recent chaos Twitter has undergone after its acquisition by Elon Musk, Twitter has (for the most part) remained an app with a reputation for being both in some ways lawless and chaotic, and in others more trustworthy and authentic (which may be in part due to the previous CEO Jack Dorsey’s eschewal of censorship of any kind). As a mainly text-based posting app, Twitter is known for being used to spreading information, whether this be news, jokes, or above all, criticism. As a result of the volume of commentary delivered to the app daily, Twitter is a key resource for tapping into various communities, such as journalists, political associations, and tech/crypto experts.
As just a few minutes on the app’s interface will reveal, TikTok is built on an attention model; that is, videos come and go in a seemingly-infinite stream of content, they hook you as quickly as they’re forgotten, and you’ll never see the same video twice (it’s also worth mentioning that, like in a casino, your phone’s clock is hidden, meaning that you could spend hours on the app without realizing it). However, while TikTok does appear to be the platform for virtually any category of content, users have noticed that it is the app’s powerful “For You Page” algorithm that is strikingly accurate – users will receive targeted content that seems to address their individual combination of needs and interests with near-perfect precision. For this reason, as TikTok’s foothold continues to grow, it may be an unprecedented tool for both viewers and creators of content of all niches.
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