A Comparison Of Visual Social Media Networks

April 4, 2015

Build a successful visual marketing strategy by knowing the best practices of each social channel.


visual_marketing_cameraVisual marketing is a powerful asset for your social media marketing due to its ability to showcase your brand and connect with your community. The visuals that fans are sharing on social networks not only provide great authentic promotion for a brand, but also create opportunities to interact with the most passionate members of a community. An effective visual marketing strategy on social media revolves around leveraging a good mix of different social channels. Each visual social channel comes with its own advantages and disadvantages when utilizing them. Smart social media marketing tactics will differ depending on the network you’re using and the audience you’re trying to reach. To help you achieve a comprehensive social media strategy we’ve outlined each of the different networks that go into successful visual marketing and how you can use each for your social media marketing.


Facebook

In many ways, Facebook has become the de facto social network. When other social networks are gaining users their growth is measured against that of Facebook. And for good reason, as the most established social channel with 71 percent of adult Internet users on Facebook, the network has a reach expanding through the US and the rest of the world. This makes it important to have a presence on Facebook for your business to connect with your fans but there are certain advantages and disadvantages that you should keep in mind.


Advantages of Facebook marketing



  • Facebook makes it easy to for anyone to create a Facebook page that can act as a center for your business communication.
  • On Facebook you can easily communicate with your fans and build groups from the conversations around your posts.
  • With detailed analytics, Facebook ads make it easy to target your ideal consumer.
  • Facebook’s large user base means there are a lot of available people for you to engage with.

Disadvantages of Facebook marketing



  • You lose control of your Facebook page to Facebook. Your design is left to Facebook’s will when they make updates to their network.
  • Facebook can get noisy and people think branded posts are spammy. Between the engagement announcements, new babies and people inviting you to defend an empire with them there is a lot that distracts from your posts.
  • Though they can be accurately targeted, Facebook ads are usually far less engaging than organic posts from the brand.
  • According to many reports, people are leaving – especially teens – which doesn’t bode well for brands hoping to engage those audiences.

Building a Facebook marketing strategy


Build a Facebook strategy that gives your fans an opportunity to connect with your organic content and avoid spammy posts that create disingenuous likes.


Twitter

Twitter is a great tool to increase the distribution of your content and marketing programs. Twitter also makes it easy to stay on top of top trends and stories while creating niche groups of individuals around specific interest areas. This megaphone for your social sharing gives you the opportunity to reach 23 percent of Internet users. Twitter is flexible to the content you share which makes it perfect for promoting from a variety of other social networks as well.


Advantages of Twitter marketing



  • Twitter makes it easy to get your message shared and to reach a wide audience through retweets and interactions from your followers.
  • Hashtags and trending topics on Twitter make discoverability of your content simple for anyone interested in finding the messages you’re sharing.
  • Public content shared on Twitter can easily be shared outside of the network enabling your posts as well as your fans’ user-generated content to be discovered by people outside of the social network.

Disadvantages of Twitter marketing



  • If your tweet isn’t viewed immediately it runs the risk of being ‘lost in the feed’ never to be seen again.
  • With over 500 million tweets shared everyday, the network can get noisy which requires you to try and cut through the clutter with great content to reach your community.
  • Tweets are limited to 140 characters requiring you to be very concise and quick with your messaging.

Building a Twitter marketing strategy


An effective Twitter strategy will enable you to share content that your community wants to re-share. This will help you increase your distribution and grow your viral reach without being overly spammy or getting lost in the noise of the network.


Vine

Launched in 2012, Vine is Twitter’s short-form video social network. The largely teen user base shares 6-second looping videos for their followers to enjoy. Vine has become a favorite network for influencers like @ThomasSanders who’ve helped the network grow into the channel that it is today. The content on Vine is known for its unique creativity and addictiveness which has made it a favorite for top brands.


Advantages of Vine marketing



  • The ease of viewing content on Vine helps increase the engagement and reach of the posts.
  • The 6-second looping videos give brands like Dunkin’ Donuts a great opportunity to get creative and create amazing content.
  • Vine’s connection with Twitter makes sharing your Vines across the networks simple and powerful.

Disadvantages of Vine marketing



  • Vine videos are often difficult to produce for many one-man social media teams.
  • With so many influencers on Vine driving the conversations, it can be difficult to be heard without leveraging these content creators.

Building a Vine marketing strategy


A Vine marketing strategy works best when you can create unique content for your followers to interact with. This promotion can be taken to the next level when you can tap other creative content creators for our marketing pushes.


Instagram

Instagram gives users the ability to share snapshots of the important moments from their lives. Instagram’s young user base comprises 26 percent of all adult Internet users. And these ‘grammers are very active making Instagram the most engaging social network. The ads program on Instagram is currently in beta, which is an introductory way for you to spread your brand’s message, but has provided some promising results.


Advantages of Instagram marketing



  • Instagram is mobile first. Mobile is a difficult place to engage consumers and it’s a device they always have with them. Instagram’s engagement makes this a great opportunity to interact with your community on mobile.
  • The high engagement on the network means that the content that is promoting your brand will see increased visibility and interactions from your followers than compared to other networks.
  • With hashtags and the Instagram Explore Tab your content is highly discoverable to people who have expressed similar interests.
  • Authentic content. You can authentically share about your brand and you can also learn about your community through the content they’re sharing.

Disadvantages of Instagram marketing



  • Instagram is mobile first. This means your content is only displayed via mobile devices. Unless you’re showcasing the content outside of Instagram, large screen more immersive content is unavailable (for now).
  • Non-clickable links makes conversion very difficult on the network.
  • Without re-share options, there isn’t as much of a viral growth opportunity as Facebook and Twitter provide.
  • Though Instagram has ads available, they’re very expensive making it difficult for the average brand to increase their brand awareness with the network.

Building an Instagram marketing strategy


Smart Instagram marketing strategies revolving around authenticity. Sharing your brand’s moments and connecting with your community through theirs will help increase your following on Instagram.


Snapchat

Snapchat is unique to other social networks in that the content being shared gets deleted after it’s viewed and doesn’t remain on the network indefinitely. This disappearing content shared on Snapchat has received a lot of media coverage. But with its simple and addictive interface, Snapchat’s is a very engaging network full of active teens and should be taken seriously with your social media marketing strategies.


Advantages of Snapchat marketing



  • High usage amongst teens gives you an opportunity to connect with this elusive demographic in easily consumable content pieces.
  • The Stories function of Snapchat creates powerful visual storytelling. By sharing multiple snaps from an event you can give an authentic perspective into your brand.
  • Consumers choose who to interact with by following specific brands making push marketing a very desirable outcome from the network.
  • Snapchat creates the opportunity to be fun and interact with your community in the same way they’re interacting with each other. Fun brands like Taco Bell have set a great precedent with this.

Disadvantages of Snapchat marketing



  • It’s difficult if not impossible to measure your success on Snapchat. This may be the biggest deterrent for brands. Because the content disappears there is no way to audit or analyze the performance of your posts.
  • Another problem of disappearing posts is the increased difficulty in repurposing the content.
  • Content is only discoverable and available to the individuals who follow you.
  • You can’t target your content promotion to specific community members.

Building a Snapchat marketing strategy


When building a Snapchat strategy you need to remember to keep it fun to be engaging. Don’t get hung up on the fact that you can’t measure your success. Just trust that you’re interacting with your community in a new and interesting way.


Pinterest

Pinterest is one of the top visual networks with 70 million users, which makes up 28 percent of adult Internet users. The predominantly young female users of Pinterest create ‘pinboards’ of collections of photos related to a central theme. This focused content curation is very engaging and great at creating referral traffic for brands.


Advantages of Pinterest marketing



  • Content has a good opportunity to build a viral reach. Your followers can ‘re-pin’ content from your boards, helping increase the exposure of those visuals.
  • Pinterest presents a great opportunity to interact with your community. Commenting on pins from your followers and responding to their comments on your posts is a great way to build relationships with your passionate fans.

Disadvantages of Pinterest marketing



  • With a majority of the pins found on Pinterest being repurposed content, the lack of original authentic content makes it slightly more difficult to build consumer insights and engagement.
  • The massive amount of content shared on Pinterest can make it hard for a one-man marketing team to manage the creation of multiple themed boards.

Building a Pinterest marketing strategy


Smart Pinterest strategies will revolve around creating multiple themed boards that are related to your brand’s story and what you’re representing. The content on these boards needs to be engaging content that your community is going to want to re-pin to share with their followers.


Tumblr

Tumblr is a multimedia channel designed for a variety of different content types similar to a short-form blog. Tumblr can be used for visual storytelling to build your brand. It’s widely considered the blogging platform for the creative. This dynamic network enables you to create a number of different types of posts to a large and active user base. Gifs perform very well on the network, and when you find an opportunity to share a photo of an ambiguously colored dress, that will perform even better!


Advantages of Tumblr marketing



  • Through re-blogging there is high discoverability of your content posted to the network.
  • Pop culture focused visuals on Tumblr help define your brand’s personality while creating engagement amongst younger audience.
  • Tumblr is very flexible in conforming to the content that can be created, giving you freedom to create and build a page representative of your brand.

Disadvantages of Tumblr marketing



  • Tumblr is still considered by some to be a very niche network, which makes it hard to connect with your overall audience.
  • Tumblr isn’t as real-time as some of the other networks, which reduces your opportunities for moment marketing.

Building a Tumblr marketing strategy


The best Tumblr strategies are the ones that give brands an opportunity to get creative and share a lot of different content pieces that tell their story in a variety of ways. Use Tumblr like your creative expression blog and reblog your community’s content while sharing content they’ll also want to re-blog.


Meerkat

The new ‘kat’ on the blog has gotten a lot of attention recently. Especially from its success at SXSW. This network is still too new to know who exactly it’s main active users will be but it has seen a lot of growth and sharing partially thanks to the ease of re-sharing content to Twitter. Creators on Meerkat share live videos that can be streamed to any participating viewer’s mobile device. On Meerkat you can see anything from someone on their mundane daily commute to Jimmy Fallon rehearsing his monologue. Meerkat provides an authentic un-edited glimpse into people’s lives.


Advantages of Meerkat marketing



  • The ease of promotion through Twitter makes content very discoverable amongst your existing audience.
  • Meerkat provides the opportunity to give fans an authentic behind the scenes perspective of your brand.
  • Showing an authentic and live prospective of an event, demonstration or product unveil is very simple with Meerkat.

Disadvantages of Meerkat marketing



  • Because all of the content is only available will it’s streaming it can be difficult for a social media marketer to manage the sharing opportunities.
  • Though there is a lot of growth, it is still a new and unproven network and Twitter launch of Periscope, a similar live streaming app, makes its future uncertain.
  • As with all new social networks, it can be difficult to build a following.

Building a Meerkat marketing strategy


To market your business on Meerkat, look for opportunities to share content that your fans and followers wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise. Keep someone managing your feed and get them involved in aspects of your business that would be interesting to share with your followers.


Periscope

Similar to Meerkat, the newly launched Periscope is a live-streaming mobile app that early adopters are flocking to. Savvy marketers are finding where live-streaming apps like Periscope and Meerkat will fit within their overall social media marketing strategy. And debates are raging between whether Periscope or Meerkat will win the “live-streaming war” but only time can tell which will come out on top and how marketers can best use these.


Advantages of Periscope marketing



  • Being under Twitter’s umbrella makes some think that Periscope is better established to become the dominant live-streaming app.
  • The connection with Twitter makes building your community on Periscope and your promotion on the app simple yet effective.
  • With Periscope the ‘live’ content is still available to be viewed for 24 hours after sharing, which gives your content extended life for engagement.

Disadvantages of Periscope marketing



  • Though Twitter released Periscope, apps from the top social networks aren’t guaranteed to succeed. See: Facebook Poke v. Snapchat.
  • As of March 2015 live streaming is still a very new marketing channel and it’s unproven how your community will engage with this content. We’re excited to revisit this topic in the future though!

Building a Periscope marketing strategy


Like Meerkat, a successful Periscope marketing strategy depends on exposing your fans and followers to live perspectives of your brand that previously weren’t available to them. Take advantage of the connection with Twitter to build your community and further promote the content you’re sharing.


Successful social media strategies will leverage a combination of most of these networks as well as a combination of owned, earned, and paid media. There are some rules that will always apply to any social channel. You always want to share your brand’s moments and connect with your community doing the same. By understanding the intricacies of each network, you can focus your strategies to better emphasize each and build a more robust and comprehensive social media strategy.


Learn more visual marketing best practices by downloading our visual marketing ebook!

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