When it comes to marketing on social media, there’s one key thing to bear in mind. Every social media platform is different and therefore, you need to tailor your social media content accordingly.
One video might work really well on Instagram, but will tank on Twitter. A graphic on Facebook may generate a lot of attention and interest but then fail to make an impact on LinkedIn. This is because when a user opens up each specific app, they are automatically browsing the platform in a certain way.
In order to tailor your content to each specific platform, you need to understand the mindsets of the audience you’re trying to reach. Let’s break each platform down below:
Twitter is the “water cooler” of social media. Just like when you catch up with colleagues at work while getting a drink, Twitter is where people go to discover what’s happening in the world. It’s the very definition of social. Users are looking for news stories, trends, memes and anything to do with popular culture at that moment. They want to be a part of the conversation around sport, the latest breaking news, last night’s TV episode, what’s on Netflix, etc.
This means that Twitter users are browsing the platform in what has been termed as a “discovery mindset.” They are more attentive, more responsive, and more trusting of the content they consume here. That’s great news for bands.
When audiences are discovering new things, they are much more receptive. This means that information is stored in their long-term memory much more effectively. This is important for brands and businesses because long-term memory encoding is related very closely to purchase content.
Because Twitter is so inclusive and a level playing field where anyone can contribute, it’s a great opportunity for brands to connect with their audience. Users are not bothered by brands on Twitter as the platform is a natural home for them. In fact, they really value the ability to have a two-way conversation with these brands. Make the most of it.
Instagram is more of a media sharing platform, rather than a social experience. Interestingly, your audience is still in the same discovery mindset as Twitter, but they’re browsing in a different way. It’s a place where people come to be entertained and inspired with short pieces of content. Unlike social platforms such as Twitter, Instagram’s primary, defining purpose is all about the sharing of visual content -- whether that’s photos or video. In recent years, the most popular uploads have skewed more toward a polished aesthetic featuring materialistic and lifestyle content
Users are scrolling rapidly and competition for their attention is fierce, so you need to ensure that your content here is visually compelling and really draws someone in. Make sure it’s relevant and ideally doesn’t last too long. While IG live videos are becoming more popular, for the most part, users are still less inclined to watch long-form videos on Instagram.
When users see something that inspires or entertains them, they become connected to and aligned with that brand. Studies have found that this leads to a much higher conversion rate in online purchases.
YouTube is effectively the “new TV” for a lot of younger generations and increasingly, older generations too. The algorithm works to recommend a tailored stream of videos that it thinks each individual user will be interested in.
When a user opens YouTube, they’re coming for two primary reasons. One is for education--to learn about something they’re interested in. Two is for entertainment--to enjoy watching a piece of content like they would watch on TV.
In either case, users on YouTube spend less time scrolling through feeds but much more time watching videos. Whereas on Instagram, a 5 minute video won’t have very good audience retention, on YouTube, a 5 minute video is considered ‘short’ and people will happily watch the whole way through. They come to the platform ready and committed to watching long-form videos.
This means that you can dive a lot deeper into topics, tell stories and really immerse your audience in a visual piece of content.
Whereas the majority of social media platforms discussed here are seen as personal platforms--places that are browsed for the purposes of socializing with friends and being entertained--LinkedIn is a professional network.
This means that the majority of users opening LinkedIn do so in a professional mindset. While online, they’re maintaining a professional identity (no bad language, no memes). they’re looking to make useful contacts, stay in touch with those contacts, and search for new opportunities.
On LinkedIn, it’s best to stay focused on career info, updates on brands and current affairs. However, with the platform growing and developing at such a rapid rate, the ways in which this can be achieved are becoming ever-more aligned with other social media platforms. The use of video and photos (including stories) are playing a much more prominent role in LinkedIn content nowadays.
TikTok is the latest and greatest of the social media platforms. It has experienced rapid, record-breaking growth in users. Although that user base is primarily skewed to the youngsters, we are now starting to see the platform mature as it becomes mainstream.
Often, TikTok users open the app in the discovery mindset. TikTok is a place they come to be entertained and have fun; it’s a way of killing time and solving boredom. They’re looking for the next big trend, whether that’s a new song (just look at how TikTok has influenced the music charts in the past 36 months), a new dance, or some other sort of trending hashtag.
The reason this platform has been so successful is that it reflects a key social media trend for younger audiences--they love creativity and they want to collaborate. Furthermore, the fast-paced nature of the videos (they can be no longer than 1 minute) and the infinite scroll has meant that users remained engaged over long periods of time.
Like YouTube, TikTok is also very broad in scope. You can find everything from dances to pranks, fitness, home renovation, DIY, beauty, healthcare, fashion, cooking, life hacks, pets, sport and more. The key is that the content is native to the platform, created by the users themselves, just with their phones. This makes it very authentic.
Unlike Instagram, where the content has evolved to be very ‘polished’ and perfect, the TikTok audience prefers to see the raw and real.
Last but not least, Facebook. In many ways, Facebook feels like the “grandfather” of modern day social media (and it is most likely the platform where you may actually run across your actual grandfather.) It’s been around for a relatively long time and reflects that in how people use it. Essentially, people use Facebook for two basic social needs: the need to belong and the need for self-presentation.
Most of the time, Facebook is seen as the place to keep in touch with close friends and family, as well as find out about local news and what is happening in your community. It is a personal, social network.
Consequently, brands and marketers need to position their content in a way that is sensitive and aware of this. If the content appears too generalised or polished, users simply won’t pay any attention to it.
If you plan to use Facebook as a professional brand, you may find that the best way to generate engagement is, unfortunately, via paid ads. A lot of the organic engagement brands used to generate via Facebook Pages has dwindled to practically zero. Without paid ads, it is extremely difficult to get the kind of views and engagement that was once available.
So there you have it. The general audience mindset for each of the major social media platforms. When working on your social media branding strategy, keeping these mindsets in mind and creating content accordingly will be of utmost importance.
Josh is an accomplished filmmaker, industry writing veteran, and storyteller based in Indonesia (by way of the UK). He’s really passionate about travel and documents adventures and stories through his films.