Which social network is right for your personal goals?
It’s no secret that social media is a global phenomenon. But, with so many of these online communication tools that do a variety of tasks, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
If you’re just starting out with social media and need some help in order to grow your personal presence, here is the best way to figure out which network is right for you and how to accomplish that goal.
There are a lot of social networks out there. Figuring which platform to use can get intimidating. So, the first place to start is to get a general understanding of the most popular social media sites.
Facebook shouldn’t need an introduction. With more than 1.59 billion monthly active users in the world, this is the social network. Since almost everyone has a Facebook account, it’s a great medium for anyone to connect and share information with others.
YouTube has a billion users. Don’t count this search engine out because you haven’t figured out how to market on this site yet. Acquired by Google in 2006, and the fifth most popular social site, it focuses on video content of almost every type.
Twitter is the second-most-popular social media site with around 320 million active monthly users. Twitter is unique because users can only use 140 characters for their posts. This makes it an excellent platform for breaking news and sharing links.
LinkedIn is the most popular professional networking site in the world. If you want to advance your career or network with industry professionals, you have to create a LinkedIn profile. This is more business oriented and professional.
Believe it or not, Google+ has over 418 active million users. Having a profile allows people to easily locate you if they conduct a search inquiry on the most popular search engine in the world.
Pinterest allows users to create bulletin boards, so it’s perfect for creating and sharing visual content like crafts and recipes. This community is filled with passionate women (primarily) that are very crafty.
Instagram is another social network that focuses on visual content. It’s owned by Facebook, so it’s not surprising that 95% of its 400 million users share their content on Facebook as well. People spend a surprising amount of time on this platform.
Tumblr is essentially a microblog network where users share content ranging from quotes to videos. It’s very popular.
Flickr is yet another platform where you can share photos and videos. It’s been found that 1 million images are shared daily. If you’re a photographer, you need to be here as well as several other niche photography sites.
Reddit is a social and entertainment network where users can ask questions and share links. Users actually vote on submissions, so this determines the popularity of the precise content on the site.
Snapchat has become one of the most-buzzed about networks around. It’s simply an image messaging app where photos disappear seconds after opened by the recipient.
WhatsApp is an extremely popular messaging app, at present, that allows you to send texts, images and videos to other users.
Quora is a question-and-answer website with more than 80 million monthly unique visitors. This is great because you can get answers to questions that can’t necessarily be found online.
Vine lets users share 6-second video clips with each other. Share it on Twitter and your views will skyrocket.
Periscope is a live-streaming app that was acquired by Twitter. Though there are not a ton of fans live daily, those that are live are very passionate.
StumbleUpon is a discovery engine that discovers and recommends content for its 25 million users.
Medium has been one that I’ve recently been working on. I was able to get over 55k followers to my personal brand in a matter of months by publishing good content.
At the very least, you should start out with the big four — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. Having a profile on these sites is crucial in establishing your personal presence.
After that, consider your niche. For example, if you enjoy cooking, then visual platforms like Instagram and Pinterest are recommended.
Also keep in mind that there are hundreds of other niche social networks. Do a little homework and find the sites that will tap into your interests and hobbies. Also, make sure you’re using the right tools to help you best work with each network.
Next, you will want to ask yourself, “What do I want and expect to get out of my Social Media efforts?”
This will guide you in determining which social media networks you should join. If you merely want to stay in-touch with friends and family, then Facebook is essential. If you want to keep up with the latest news and trends then Twitter, Reddit, and StumbleUpon deserve your attention. If you want to network with like-minded individuals, then selecting a niche site based on your interests and activities is the way to go, such as the above cooking example.
After determining what you want to get out of social media, you also have to consider where your connections are spending their time.
In the business word, you probably would have to conduct a lot of research to determine this. For you personally, knowing where your audience spends most of their time is based on common sense and your interests.
Until you teach your elder family members the ins, outs, and benefits, of Snapchat — understand that it takes a little while for them to “get it.” You, yourself, will probably have to sign them up for their Snapchat account, and it is not feasible for you to do this “setup” for the entire world. But, it’s a safe bet that this demographic is on Facebook. So if you’re goal was to keep in-touch with these family members, then it wouldn’t make sense to devote a whole lot of time on Snapchat until they catch on.
If you enjoy photography as a hobby, then the visual platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and Flickr are the places where other photographers or fans are going to be spending most of their time.
Updating your Facebook or Twitter account doesn’t take a whole of time or money. Creating a YouTube video, however, requires you to film a video, edit it, and post it to the site. While everyone has a camera on the phones these days, it requires more time and resources. If those are in limited supply, then it may be advisable that you stay away from those type of networks.
Now that you’ve narrowed down your list of social networks, it’s time to create your create and start growing your presence by following these types:
Optimize your account by including a real photo of yourself, writing a profile description that describes who you are, and include a link to your website or blog if you have one.
Get to know the community. Follow popular users so that you can learn the ropes and jargon. (note: influencers aren’t made overnight)
Become an active member of the community by sharing awesome content and following others.
Learn to become an influencer in your newly found community.
Always be genuine, authentic, and positive.
John Rampton is a serial entrepreneur who now focuses on helping people to build amazing products and services that scale. He is founder of the online payments company Due. He was recently named #2 on Top 50 Online Influencers in the World by Entrepreneur Magazine. Time Magazine recognized John as a motivations speaker that helps people find a “Sense of Meaning” in their lives. He currently advises several companies in the bay area.
Originally published at mashable.com on August 26, 2016.