Facebook. Instagram. Twitter. TikTok. There are so many different, established social media networks available nowadays. But which are your favourites?
Social networks: Similar but different
Each social network has its own particular characteristics and strengths.
Facebook is the ‘daddy’ of all networks, with 2.6 billion monthly active users (MAUs) [MAU is a count of how many users log into the network at least once a month, which is taken as the generally agreed definition of an ‘active’ user. Some networks, particularly newer ones, will report different metrics such as number of downloads or individual accounts, which overstate their true usage – Ed.] It’s the network of choice for many businesses, thanks to its huge reach and advanced targetting capabilities.
Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) is image-led, with over a billion MAUs. Twitter, with 390 million MAUs – it’s smaller than many people realise – is the go-to for fast-breaking news and public conversation. YouTube (2 billion MAUs) is the leading reference/search source for long-form video content. Pinterest (370 million MAUs) meets key needs for creative content and ideas. LinkedIn (which doesn’t report MAU statistics) is for professionals. And TikTok (800 million MAUs) is the new kid on the block, with its focus on video, music and ‘infotainment’.
The one thing each of these networks has in common is the ability to connect users either with relevant content or with each other. Each has its own unique flavour. As a result, many of us are on multiple platforms. And different users have different favourites, depending on which fulfil their needs best.
Your favourite social networks
Over on our Facebook group, we asked users to pick their favourite social network and give their reasons. The results were as follows.
Instagram was the clear winner here, earning 45% of votes. Several mentioned the communities that build around key interests. (The platform’s emphasis on hashtags helps this a lot.) Users also felt that it provides insight into other people’s lives without being overwhelming.
I just love the little snippets into people’s lives. Plus it’s great as a ‘microblog’.TSC Facebook group user
Twitter is popular among those of us (like me) who value its capacity for conversation. Some users chat only with a specific set of friends. Others enjoy its more random and open nature to engage with everyone from close friends to complete strangers.
[Twitter is] where I’m most likely to talk to people in general, and definitely where I stumble across interesting random chats out of pure serendipity.Tim Liew
Facebook won votes on the basis of being the largest and broadest social platform. Its superior reach and the effect of its algorithm on prioritising relevant content make it a key builder of community and traffic.
Likewise, Pinterest collates content on specific topics and drives traffic longer-term through search. And TikTok similarly creates exposure thanks to the way its algorithm works.
Different favourites for different roles
For those of us who use social media for both personal and professional purposes, our favourites vary depending on what mode we’re in, as Amie highlighted.
I’m torn between Twitter and Pinterest for personal use. Instagram or YouTube for work, though.Amie Caitlin Shearer
I’m similar. As a blogger, Facebook is my most effective traffic driver. As a social media manager, most of my focus is on Facebook and LinkedIn. And on a personal level, I love Twitter and Instagram for when I just want to kick back and either consume or engage with content.
We also asked our community about their least favourite social platforms. Here TikTok and Pinterest led the way, with Facebook a close third.
In the case of Facebook, common frustrations included declining reach [we’ll come back to this in a future post – Ed] and the growing spread of hate, anger and misinformation.
With TikTok and Pinterest, the primary issue is that users don’t quite ‘get it’. (I’m one such person.) Also, for certain types of influencers, both can be major traffic-driving and engagement opportunities, which adds to the frustration.
Interestingly, Instagram was the least mentioned ‘least-favourite’ network. Many users express their frustrations with the platform’s algorithmic feed. They also know that images are often highly curated and not always truly representative of either real life or realistic aspirations. But, while it’s increasingly the key platform on which influencers work with brands, it’s also the one general users say is the most fun.
As both the most common favourite and the rarest least-favourite, there was a clear preference among our users: Instagram is our favourite social network. But is it yours?
Written by Tim Liew, with contributions from Amie Caitlin Shearer and the TSC Facebook community.