Social Networks

Social Networks: What’s the difference?

In our previous post 'Social Media for small business', we talked a little bit about the importance of choosing the most appropriate Social Network, when marketing online.

There are so many different Social Networks out there. Each one offers different channels for posting Social Media and each one targets different groups and age ranges.

A quick overview of how the biggest ones all work is perfectly demonstrated in this diagram from Deconetwork:

Social Network Differences




















Here we shall try to explain in more detail, how each of the biggest Social Networks work, and how you can choose between them:

1. Facebook

It is fair to say that virtually everyone on the planet has heard of Facebook. Whether you are signed up or not, it is undoutedly the biggest Social Network out there. Despite what some marketeers would have you believe, it is not dwindling in popularity, and it is still a mighty big player when it comes to Social Media.

For business, no matter what size, it is an essential online marketing tool.

Current customers can help you spread word about your business, to places you would never normally be able to reach. Potential customers are almost bound to check out if you have a Facebook page, and most importantly what people are saying about you.

How does it work?

It works for business, by setting up a Facebook 'Page'. This is an area that allows you to put up all the details of your company, add in contact buttons and links to your website, and post photos and information about your products and services.

The next step is to get 'Likes'. This is achieved by sharing posts with friends, family, and in groups that are relevant to your business. The idea its get fellow facebookers to like your page, and share and like your content.

Done well this can be highly effective. The more likes and shares you can get, the more you are validating your business, and building up a fanbase. Establishing that you are a trustworthly company is vital for promoting loyalty among current customers, and essential in attracting potential new customers.

Behind the scenes, Facebook works on social graphs and activities, and uses these to target demographics and people.

It aims to entice businesses to advertise, as it boasts it can get your marketing message, directly in front of the exact people you are aiming to target.

The key to success, as with any Social Media is to be engaging, relevant and honest.


Facebook Vital Statistics

Facebook - Social Networks - Vital Statistics

2. Twitter

The next most talked about Social Network is most probably Twitter, though it does not have anywhere near as many monthly active users as Facebook. It claims it have 320 million monthly active users, in comparison to Facebooks 1.65 billion.

Interestingly it does boast to have 1.3 billion registered users, which means a staggering number of people have set up an account that they then don't use. It is infact estimated that 500 million users will login but not actually post anything, meaning there are a lot of silent 'lurkers' out there, watching but not participating.

Twitter Vital Statistics

twitter - social network -vital statistics

How does it work?

Twitter is the quickest of the Social Networks. Once you have set up an account, then anything you post must be 140 characters or less. Getting started can be something of a challenge!

Ensuring that posts are so short, ensures that any message posted must be punchy and to the point. This can lead to a higher click through rate to your website, as 'click for more details' can be added to the end of any tweet.

The aim, as with facebook is to get other users to follow your page, and for them to share what you have posted - or 'Retweet' as it is known here.

Because of the speed with which twitter moves, it is a very sociable place, and there are many different groups that will host 'Hours' where you can effectively network your business for an hour with likeminded businesses and customers. It is also advisable to include a # before words that are key to your message, as this will get picked up more easily by other users you are trying to attract.


3. Pinterest

Pinterest is one of the newer Social Networks, having only been established in 2010 and this place is all about the visual content. It is marketed as 'The world's catalogue of ideas', and is mainly used to share pictures, infographics and tutorials.


How does it work?

Users create 'Boards', and then add images or videos which then become known as 'Pins'. Users can browse the boards of others, and using the 'Pin it' button, can then share anything that appeals on their own boards.

The end result is a whole collection of centrally themed 'Boards', that can really reflect personality and culture. This can be a great way of showcasing a personal flavour of what your business is about, and your influences.


Pinterest Vital Statistics

Pinterest -social network- vital - statistics

4. YouTube

YouTube is a very well established Social Network resource, and boasts of over 1 billion monthly active users. It was launched back in 2005, and is a free global video sharing website.

It was set up by 3 employees of Paypal originally, but was swiftly bought up by Google, and it is now a subsidiary company.

YouTube Vital Statistics

YouTube - Social Networks - Vital Statistics

How does it work?

Youtube allows users to easily and quickly upload videos. Users can also go on and like, share, and comment on other users videos. You not have to be a registered user to view videos on Youtube. You do need to be registered to post videos.

Videos can be upto 15minutes in duration.

It is used by many individuals, but also by businesses to promote adverts, and provide technical tutorials.



LinkedIn is one of the only Social Networks, that was specifically built for the business community. The whole goal of the site is to allow fellow professionals to connect and establish networks.

How does it work?

Joining LinkedIn is free for a basic membership, but there is a premium subscription which allows users more access to the LinkedIn database of connections.

A LinkedIn member’s profile page is set up, with heavy emphasis on employment history, education, and skills. These are then endorsed by other fellow members, in a bid to build up the network on a basis of trust and recommendations.

It is very much about the individual, and is used very heavily by people both seeking and recruiting employment.

It is one of the few Social Networks which is more heavily dominated by males. It is also one of the few Social Networks, which actually lets you view who has been looking at your profile.



5. LinkedIn – Vital Statistics

Linkedin - Social Networks -Vital Statistics

6. Instagram

Instagram is different from the other Social Networks because essentially it is an app - not a website. It is centred around sharing images, and short videos (upto 15seconds long), on smartphones, and mobile devices. It can be accessed from a computer, but it cannot be updated this way.

Instagram Vital Statistics

Instagram -social networks - vital

How does it work?

Users on Instagram create a profile, which can be done throught the app  - or via Facebook if you already have an account here. (It will also ask you if you want to find followers through facebook). Then the idea is to add your photos, and get followers to like and comment. There are a host of filters for transforming images with some really cool effects. All with the aim that this will attract more followers and more likes.


7. Google +

Google + is unsuprisingly enough the Social Network devised by Google. It is similar in format to Facebook as it allows users to post about their business with little restriction.

It is however different in that it separates followers into groups, and so when posts are sent out these can be to a real targeted set of people within that group.

How does it work?

Business can create a Page on Google +, and then try to accumulate followers. It then allows you to separate your followers into groups known as 'Circles'. Within these circles you can share as much or as little as you want. This allows you to really send out targeted marketing messages to different target audiences.



7. Google + Vital Statistics

Google - Social Networks -vital statistics

8. Snapchat

Last but by no means least is the newest Social Network phenomenom Snapchat. This is one Social Network that is growing in popularity at an astounding rate, and is estimated that usage has increased by over 350% in the last 18 months.

The other significant fact about Snapchat is that is predominantely used by 18-24 year olds.


Snapchat Vital Statistics

snapchat -social networks - vital statistics

How does it work?

Like Instagram it is essentially a mobile app, which allows users to send messages and images.

It is billed as 'fun messaging app'. You can take a photo or a video with it, then add a caption or doodle or lens graphic over top, and send it to a friend. Alternatively, you can add it to your "story", a 24-hour collection of your photos and videos, which you broadcast to the world or just your followers.

It is unique because all posts only last for a brief time before they then disappear for good.

It can be used by those businesses who really want to target a younger audience, and who are willing to embrace Social Media and how it is evolving.