Social media is a powerful digital marketing tool. If your business isn’t using these platforms, you might be missing out on a lot of growth.
But what does social media look like around the world? And which platforms should you use? This guide answers those questions and more.
What Are Social Media Platforms?
Let’s cover the basics first. Social media platforms are online communities where people share everything from pictures and videos to blogs and more. Some platforms cover a wide range of content while others focus on a more specific set of media. Either way, social media platforms are online spaces where people share and view content.
How Many Social Media Platforms Are There?
We don’t know how many platforms there are, but we do know a lot of people use social media. In 2020, 3.6 billion people were using social media worldwide — and that number is expected to surpass 4 billion by 2025.
Which Social Media Platforms Are Right For Your Business?
Social media marketing is a
The Big Players: Global Social Media Platforms
Let’s take a look at the big players first. These platforms are generally popular in the U.S. and around the world, so they tend to be good starting points for social media marketing.
What is Facebook?
With 2.89 billion active users each month, Facebook is by far the most popular social media.
Facebook takes the broad content approach, letting users post basically anything. After making a profile that includes things like a picture, a description, and contact info, businesses can start sharing anything from
These posts show up on your business’s profile and might pop up when other users scroll through their feed (a feed is the main section of a social platform where people are shown other users’ posts). Users can follow your business profile to stay
Like most social media sites, other users can like, comment on, and share posts.
- Liking a post shows how popular it is.
- Commenting on a post is how people continue the discussion or share their reactions.
- Sharing a post shows it to more people.
General posts are a good start, but you can also use Facebook’s powerful marketing tools to turn your posts into ad campaigns that target your ideal audience. When you make a Facebook ad, the system will strategically show it to people who are likely to be interested.
As the name suggests, this is an online marketplace where businesses can post their products — potentially reaching billions of shoppers. (At Ecwid, we can help you start selling on Facebook Marketplace today.)
Facebook Groups are just that: groups of users. Groups generally center around a shared interest or topic. Joining a Facebook Group related to the interests of your target customer is a great way to engage a lot of interested people all at once.
Should you use Facebook for your business?
Facebook is a great tool for almost every business because it has so many users worldwide. Here’s a quick overview of the platform’s user demographics to help you decide if it’s the right platform for you.
- India has the most Facebook users of any country (349 million).
- About 70% of people in the U.S. use Facebook, most of whom are age 24 or older.
- Facebook is the most popular social media globally, but the platform is banned in China.
What is Instagram?
Unlike Facebook, Instagram focuses on two main types of content: photos and videos. The platform lets users share stuff via several different channels, so let’s go over each one.
Feed content and Stories
First, feed content is the stuff people post to the standard Instagram feed, including photos and short videos. These posts show the image/video alongside a caption and are displayed on your profile, in the feed of people who follow you, and sometimes on the Explore Page (the Explore Page is a collection of posts from people all over Instagram). As with Facebook, users can like and comment on posts.
Second, Instagram Stories appear as little circles at the top of a user’s feed. These Stories can feature photos or short videos, but unlike feed content, they disappear after 24 hours.
You can post videos to Stories and the general feed, but Instagram Reels is the platform’s main video section. Reels can be up to
If you’re familiar with TikTok, Reels functions a lot like that platform (we’ll go over TikTok next).
Beyond standard posts, Instagram offers a live stream feature. This lets users broadcast live videos to their followers and is a great way to interact with people who are interested in your brand.
Promoting and selling on Instagram
Instagram is a great digital marketing tool. The platform has 1 billion users worldwide, with hundreds of millions of users throughout North America, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. Instagram tends to have younger users than Facebook, with more than half under the age of 34.
Instagram is owned by the same company as Facebook, so you have access to similar marketing tools. Beyond paying for ad campaigns, businesses can use Instagram Shopping to sell products. This feature functions a lot like Facebook Marketplace, and Ecwid can help you get started.
What is TikTok?
While Instagram focuses on videos and photos, TikTok is all video.
Businesses can make a profile that includes a picture, a short description, and links to other websites. Then, the platform lets you post videos up to one minute long (although a longer
These videos can be recorded within the TikTok app, or they can be
Beyond likes and comments, users can make Duets. These are essentially video reactions. Users can add a video of themselves alongside another post to share their thoughts.
Overall, TikTok is about quick, engaging video content.
The For You Page (The FYP)
This section of TikTok is typically the first thing users see when they open the app.
When you post a video, TikTok’s system might show it to people across the platform via the FYP. Users can watch a video that pops up or scroll to see a new one. The FYP is known for being really good at showing users the content they’re interested in, so posting on TikTok is a great way to increase the chances of your brand connecting with the right people.
The Following Page
While the FYP shows videos from basically anyone, the Following page just shows content from people you follow. That means if someone follows your business’s profile, they’ll probably see your videos on their Following page.
What should you know about TikTok?
TikTok has a young user base. 25% of active users in the U.S. are aged
Keep these two things in mind if you use TikTok for brand promotion:
- TikTok likes authenticity. Social media use went up during
COVID-19lockdowns. With more active users, more people were sharing a less curated version of themselves with the world. As a result, the demand for authentic content has gone up. Think more honest, laidback videos and less polished production.
- TikTok is global. TikTok has a lot of users in the U.S., but it has more users in
South-EastAsia. One report found that 198 million people in the region were using the platform in 2020. That’s compared to 105 million across all of North America.
What is Twitter?
Next up: Twitter.
Twitter falls under the microblogging category. That means it focuses on short,
Tweets are limited to 280 characters and can include pictures or short videos. Users can make a business profile that includes a short description, links to other social media accounts, and a picture. Then they can start tweeting.
Where do tweets show up?
Users can make their account private, in which case only people they approve can see their tweets, or they can make it public, letting everyone see their tweets.
For businesses, a public profile is best.
With a public profile, your tweets will show up on your profile, in the feed of people who follow you, and under the Explore tab.
What are the Explore Tab and Hashtags?
Like other social media sites, Twitter’s Explore tab is where people find new content and users. The Explore tab is sorted into categories like News, Entertainment, and Sports. The tab also features the trending page. As you might have guessed, the trending page displays trending content. You might see certain phrases or words relating to current events (for example, you’ll probably see the word Superbowl on gameday).
This is where hashtags come in. Twitter uses hashtags (#) to help sort content. Sometimes you’ll see trending hashtags like #SundayFunDay. You can view related tweets by clicking on the tag, or add the tag to your tweets to capitalize on the trend. That way, anyone who clicks on the trending hashtag might see your tweet.
How can you interact on Twitter?
There are four main ways to interact on Twitter:
- Favoriting (liking). A tweet’s number of favorites shows how popular it is.
- Retweeting. Retweeting is essentially
re-sharinga tweet. If a user retweets you, your tweet will show up on their profile and in the feed of people who follow them.
- Replying and quoting. Users can reply to tweets to continue the discussion, or they can quote tweets. Quoting lets the user post their own tweet above the original. Quotes are typically used to respond to the original tweet.
@-ing (at-ing).When you make a Twitter account, you get a handle. This handle identifies you and functions like an email address or phone number. If a user posts a tweet that includes your handle, you’ll be notified that they mentioned you.
Overall, these interactions are a great way to engage with potential and current customers.
Who uses Twitter?
Twitter attracts an older demographic than TikTok. More than 38% of users are between 25 and 34 while over 17% of accounts are owned by people over 50. Just 6.6% of Twitter users are aged
According to Pew Research, Twitter users are more likely to be
If that sounds like your target customer, Twitter is for you.
Social Media in Asia
Those are some of the most popular social media sites worldwide, but some platforms are more localized. First, let’s cover social media in Asia.
Asia is obviously a huge region, so it’s impossible to cover every platform in the area. However, there are a few notable Asian social media sites that might be useful for your brand.
QZone: Popular in China
QZone is somewhat similar to Facebook in that users can post a wide variety of content. With more than 600 million active users each month, QZone is by far China’s biggest social media platform. Users can listen to music, send photos to friends, write blog posts, and more.
Social media marketing on QZone can take a few approaches.
- First, businesses can pay for ads like they would on Facebook. These ads show up in users’ feeds.
- Second, marketers can develop a profile that shows off their products or services.
- Third, company profiles can engage with relevant posts to grow brand awareness.
Other platforms in China: Sina Weibo and WeChat
If you want to start a social media marketing campaign in China, Sina Weibo should probably be part of it. The platform had more than 560 million active users each month in
What is Sina Weibo?
Sina Weibo is a microblogging site (think of it like China’s Twitter). Users can post their
Sina Weibo also offers corporate accounts. These include features that are similar to Facebook’s marketing tools, including options to launch ad campaigns.
What is WeChat?
WeChat is also a valuable digital marketing tool in China. The platform had more than 1.25 billion active users each month during the second quarter of 2021, and those users covered a wide range of age groups.
WeChat is mainly a messaging app, but it also offers a Discover page where users can find Moments. These Moments function a lot like Facebook posts.
Popular WeChat Moments include things like pictures, articles, and short videos.
Businesses can pay for ads to show up on users’ Discover pages, just like they would pay for Facebook ads. The majority of WeChat users view Moments when they open the app, so paying for these ads is a
YouTube: Popular in India
Although YouTube is certainly very popular in the U.S. and many other countries, India has more YouTube users than any other nation. It’s also the most popular social media site in the nation, with an 89% penetration rate.
YouTube essentially functions the same no matter where people access it. That platform focuses on video content and users can watch and upload videos of almost any length. YouTube content is typically longer than videos on Instagram or TikTok: According to Statista, the average YouTube video is about 11 minutes long.
Videos show up on Channels (a.k.a. profiles). Users can subscribe to these Channels to get notified when the owner uploads a video.
With the growing popularity of TikTok, YouTube has been pushing its new Shorts feature. This section of the YouTube app basically works just like TikTok — a lot of users even repost TikToks there.
Here’s what you should know about using YouTube to promote your brand:
- You can pay for ads that show up before and during videos (like commercials on TV).
- Making a YouTube channel to post product demonstrations can connect you with interested buyers.
- At Ecwid, we can help you use Google Ads to promote your brand across YouTube.
Social Media in the Middle East and Africa
Social media sites have grown in popularity across Africa as the internet becomes more accessible throughout the continent. The Middle East is also proving to be an engaged market, with the average user in the region using about eight different social media sites each month.
Like other large regions of the world, it’s hard to pin down every social platform in Africa and the Middle East — but TikTok is definitely a popular option. In the MENA region (the Middle East and North Africa), top TikTokers saw an average following increase of 65% between February and August 2020.
Facebook is also growing in North Africa: Egypt is the platform’s ninth largest market, with 44 million active users. Twitter is getting more popular in the Middle East and Africa too, with Turkey, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia ranking in the platform’s top 20 growing markets.
If we head down to South Africa, Facebook remains a popular social media site. Statista found that YouTube and Facebook are commonly used throughout the nation, with Facebook maintaining a penetration rate of 87%.
All this data shows us that social media’s top players are great options for marketing your brand within Africa and the Middle East.
Start Marketing Today
All these social media sites might seem daunting, but reading about them means you’re on the right track.
Growth is just a few clicks away, so get started today!
Do you want to learn more about selling on social media?
- Social Commerce: How to Sell on Social Media
- Social Media Strategy for Small Businesses
- 25 Proven Social Media Contest Ideas to Promote Your Online Business
- 19 Activities That Will Wake Up Your Social Media Followers
- How to Find Your Target Audience on Social Media
- Understanding Social Media Platforms Around the World