What are social networks and which are the most important?
Social networks have been part of our daily lives for years. It is estimated that more than half of the world’s population uses them, which means more than 4 billion people.
For marketers, social networks are an unbeatable opportunity to publicize a brand among customers and target audiences. But would you know how to define what a social network is and how it differs from social media? How can you choose the best one for your brand? What are the most popular social networks and what are their marketing advantages? We tell you everything in this article!
What are social networks?
Social networks are digital platforms that connect people with common interests, activities, or relationships (such as friendship, kinship, or work). These platforms allow contact between the individuals that comprise them and function as a means of exchanging information. The information published by a user can be public or private.
Social networks and social media
On many occasions, we talk about social networks and “social media” interchangeably, but in reality, they are different concepts.
- We call “social media” the use of digital technologies to make dialogue between people interactive. It is a broad concept, which not only encompasses social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter, but also videos, blogs and other internet sites that offer the possibility of interacting with other people.
- Instead, social networks are a type of social media focused on connecting people with each other. Each user creates her own profile and interacts with other people by sharing information.
Types of social networks
- Personal social networks. Personal social networks are intended to connect individuals with each other based on their personal connections. The most typical example is Facebook.
- Entertainment social networks. In this type of social network, the main function is not so much to interact with other people as to share content. For example, YouTube is a social network designed to share video content.
- Professional social networks. Professional social networks are designed for networking, publishing information about our resume and achievements, getting a job and other purposes related to the professional world. The best known and used worldwide is LinkedIn.
- Niche social networks. Finally, niche social networks are aimed at people with a specific interest in common, be it professional or personal. For example, DeviantArt is for visual artists to share their work and Goodreads for book recommendations.
Keep in mind that although this classification is based on the original purpose of each network, in reality, many social networks offer flexibility in terms of their uses. For example, Instagram can be a personal, entertainment, or even professional network.
Another possible classification is to divide social networks into horizontal or generic networks and vertical or specialized networks in a specific niche.
The 10 most important social networks
Although in recent years some think that it has gone out of style, the truth is that Facebook’s dominance in terms of active users is overwhelming: it exceeds 2.5 billion active users worldwide.
As it is a general social network, it can be adapted to the strategies of a wide variety of brands, especially B2C. Another of its great advantages is its demographic breadth since it has a very broad user base. Of course, it may not be the most appropriate to connect with the younger audience.
YouTube exceeds 2 billion active users and more than 1 billion videos are watched on this platform every day. Without a doubt, it is the world leader in video format, which in turn is one of the most interesting types of content in online marketing.
Uploading your videos to YouTube can offer you great advantages in terms of visibility. In addition, it is a very simple platform with multiple features, such as live streaming. However, it must be borne in mind that it is a network more oriented to content consumption than to interaction and that a large amount of content on it makes it very important to take care of positioning.
WhatsApp is the most popular social messaging network worldwide and has around 2 billion active users. It has had a great influence worldwide, to the point that it has changed the way we communicate.
The great strength of WhatsApp in online marketing is its speed and convenience as a customer service channel. Users positively value being able to contact brands through WhatsApp and quickly solve their problems. In return, as it is a messaging app, it is not the most suitable for strategies based on sharing content.
4) Facebook Messenger
With an active user base of more than 1.2 billion, Facebook Messenger is the second most used instant messaging application in the world. It should be noted that it is integrated with Instagram messaging.
At the level of social media marketing, Facebook Messenger is a channel with great potential for brands that have a Facebook page. In particular, Messenger chatbots allow us to automatically carry out a series of actions, such as placing orders or answering customer questions, which helps us improve the user experience while freeing up team time and resources.
Instagram is the fifth social network in the world in a number of active users since it exceeds 1.2 billion.
It is a social network very marked by the phenomenon of influencers since it is one of the most used platforms to promote brands and in which this type of content enjoys more acceptance by users. Today, the trend is more towards micro-influencers, with a smaller community of followers but higher rates of influence and interaction.
It should also be noted that it shares the same Facebook advertising platform, which gives us many possibilities when launching social ad campaigns.
WeChat is a relatively unknown Chinese social network in our country, but it also has a base of more than 1.2 billion active users.
It has multiple features, including a messaging service, geolocation, official or verified accounts, options to share images, states, links, and other elements to selected contacts, a payment system, and even a version for professional use similar to Slack.
For brands, WeChat can provide many interesting options, both for online marketing and internal organization management. In order to use it, you need to have a Chinese company or at least a foreign business license.
We come to the trendy social network, TikTok, which has more than 600 million active users and is based on sharing short video content, often in “playback” format. His popularity exploded especially during the confinement caused by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.
TikTok is a network that is particularly suitable for connecting with younger users, although brands should bear in mind that it is necessary to adapt their messages to the particular style of this network. It has a growing community of influencers and has monetization and advertising options.
In eighth place, we have QQ, which also exceeds 600 million users and is one of the most popular in China.
In recent years it has been losing strength compared to WeChat, but it is still an option to consider for companies doing business in China.
In addition to messaging, it offers a variety of services such as online games, music, shopping, movies, and voice chat.
Douyin is around 600 million active users. It is often referred to as “Chinese Tik Tok” since, like this network, it allows you to create and share short music videos.
Its relevance in our country is closely linked to the world of football, since in 2020 it signed an agreement with La Liga by which Douyin undertakes to offer quality content from Spanish content and its clubs, increasing its reach beyond our borders. Many LaLiga teams have official profiles on Douyin, including Real Madrid and FC Barcelona.
10) Sina Weibo
Closing the top ten is the Chinese social network Sina Weibo, with more than 500 million active users. It has many features in common with Twitter, such as the 140-character limit per message, the use of the at the sign to mention other users, the use of hashtags, the options to republish content and add it to favorite lists, and the verification of user accounts. famous people or organizations.