In this article, we will cover the basics of the most important social media out there along with some background on social media. We will also focus on media that can be useful to organizations (i.e. social media for nonprofits, social media for small businesses etc.).

Let’s start with a simple definition:
Social media – websites and applications which allow users to create and
share content or participate in social networking.

Social media has changed significantly since its inception with MySpace (there were other sites but this was the first big one). These days there are hundreds of “social media” including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, YouTube, Reddit, Flickr… The list goes on and on and on. If you are into nervous breakdowns you can the see the full and terrifyingly huge list here. BUT there is good news, if you understand the 5 biggest social media platforms out there you should be set to make fairly well-informed decisions about social media for your organization (and yourself).

How Important Social Media Is:

The first thing to know about social media, it is something that just about everyone is doing in one form or another. Take this graph from Statista for example. It shows that almost 80% of the USA says that they use social media currently (there are many who say they are not social that are, though).

Some Quick Stats:
⦁ 74% of marketers see an increase in traffic when they start engaging on social media
⦁ 78% of Americans say that social media impacts their buying decisions
⦁ 81% of B2B decision makers use online communities and blogs to help make purchasing decisions
⦁ 78% of all Americans say they have a social media account
Which Media You Should Understand:
According to many here are the big players in social media: 1) Facebook, 2) Instagram, 3) Pinterest, 4) Google+, 5) Snapchat. You might notice a big player who is NOT listed as one of the most important is Twitter. Unfortunately, it has been losing popularity steadily over the years, therefore we will leave it out of our discussion for the moment. Here is a graph showing which medias are the biggest (though we think the Facebook message should not count as a separate media from Facebook):

A Little About Each Media:
⦁ Facebook: Clearly this is the largest platform, and one of the most widely understood media. Facebook is a platform that allows users to share content (videos, articles, images, etc.) and text updates with their friends. It is primarily a closed network meaning that unless you are friends with Bob you won’t see what Bob says or shares. For organizations, Facebook is an ideal platform, as it not only allows organizations to advertise very cost effectively and quickly, it also has by far the largest user base.

⦁ Instagram: Second largest network (owned by Facebook). Instagram is basically Facebook but more open (most users allow non-friends to see their content) and completely video/image based. Because it is more open and focused completely on videos/images hashtags (unique phrases such as #puppylove) are a much more important part of how users interact with each other. Most users not only allow others to search through their images using hashtags but they also search their favorite hashtags on a regular basis to see what other users have shared recently. Without getting lost in terms, hashtags offer a categorizing function to users (more explanation here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hashtag). This media is great for brands as it allows them to expand their networks using hashtags and they do not have to rely on followers to invite their friends.
⦁ Pinterest: The third most popular media. The simple way to explain Pinterest is to say it is Instagram with storage – it allows users to store or “pin” images or articles they like to “boards” (just a way of organizing pins) for later reading etc. This media is very popular with women under 35 and therefore can be great for organizations IF that is the target market.

⦁ Google+: Google+ may be a large and useful tool for many Google phones it is not a preferred location for consumers and therefore not preferred by organizations. It is effectively just Facebook with added functions for organizing your contacts/friends into “circles”.
⦁ Snapchat: Basically a direct messaging app for images and videos. Though it is the youngest and smallest of the big 5 medias, Snapchat is the fastest growing media at the moment. Though few organizations have learned to capitalize on Snapchat it has immense potential.
Our hope is that now you feel slightly less apprehensive about social media, and if you don’t, you at least understand some of the terms marketers and millennials throw around all the time. Social media can be an amazing tool for businesses and nonprofits if used regularly and correctly. Though it can take the time to learn and become proficient, there are always individuals here at EasySocial willing to lend a helping hand!
A bit about me:
I founded this business because I love working with nonprofits and small businesses both as a manager of their social media and as a consultant to their marketing/communication directors. While we are a young company our ability to grow with our clients is something we are very proud of. Our team is growing quickly but I still work directly with clients whenever possible, so if you have questions for me or want more information about something I mentioned please reach out to me via email: TimothyZ@eaysocial.solutions
You can also follow EasySocial on our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn for great ideas, tips, and encouragement!
To learn more about EasySocial and how we help nonprofits and small to medium sized businesses please take a look at our main website.