Without a doubt, social media has changed the way that millions of people live, from the way they use the internet to the way they interact with others. Social media allows individual users to create an idealized, digital version of their lives that they can then share with others. At the same time it allows businesses to build brand awareness, recruit top talent, and engage with customers in ways they never could before. While new networks emerge all the time as older ones fall out of favor, there is no doubt that social media itself is here to stay. Pew Research found that 73 percent of internet users belong to at least one social network, and an estimated 42 percent of adults who go online belong to more than one social network.
Here is a list of the top social media networks:
- Facebook remains the undisputed king of social media networks. Not only does it have over a billion members, but it is estimated that just over half of all internet users visit Facebook at least once a month. As astonishing as that statistic may seem, experts estimate that by the end of 2014 the number should reach 60 percent of internet users. People can create a personal profile and connect with friends or create a business page where they can interact with fans who “like” their page.
- Twitter is a micro-blogging site that lets its users post messages called “tweets” that consist of 140 characters or less to their followers. Those followers have the option to “retweet” the post to their followers. Twitter is a great place to share links to news stories, blog posts, or videos that your followers might find interesting. The unique brevity of the platform forces users to be concise in their messaging.
- LinkedIn bills itself as the “professional social network” and has become the world’s largest resume pool. It is an excellent place to make business connections, find new clients, recruit talent for your company, or look for a job. It is also a great place to find career-oriented news articles and blogs to keep you up to date on what is happening in your field. Joining and participating in groups can help to establish you as an expert in your industry.
- Pinterest is one of the fastest growing social networks, particularly among women. Members create “boards” and share links centered around corresponding visual themes. For example, a member might “pin” an image of the Eiffel Tower to her board “Places I Want to Visit” and that image then shows up on the homepage of all of her followers. When it comes to marketing, Pinterest works best for brands that lend themselves to attractive visual images.
- Google+ is continuing to gain users, largely because of its affiliation with Google. It has been more successful worldwide than in the U.S. and it is estimated that approximately 26 percent of internet users visit Google+ at least once per month. Google+ allows you to separate your contacts into different “circles” that you choose at your discretion.
- YouTube may not come to mind when you think about social media networks, but this internet giant has over a billion unique visitors every month. Beyond sharing hilarious cat videos, Google’s video-sharing site is perfect for building credibility by demonstrating your skills or knowledge. If you are a business you want to use YouTube as a place to make connections and build authority in your field.
The wide variety of social media networks out there today means that there truly is something for everyone. Whether you want to increase awareness of your brand, improve your customer service, join conversations about topics that interest you, or connect with friends and family, social media allows you to do any or all of those things at your discretion. Business owners, in particular, can no longer afford to ignore social media. Luckily it is easy to get started, and countless resources exist to help you to understand and utilize social media. With that said, what are you waiting for?