Do It Right: Understanding the Differences Across Social Media Platforms

I’m continuing to read Vaynerchuk’s book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World (aka. JJJRH ) and wrote a post explaining my first impression of it here. One of the things Vaynerchuk constantly emphasizes is the need to “use a platform’s native language.” This means really getting the nuances of each social channel, understanding the audience, and knowing what type of content is suitable for each one. This may seem obvious to anyone who has any inkling of social media. But then Vaynerchuk delves into examples of each platform, and hiccups and achievements from different brands, and it quickly becomes clear that even the most reputable of us can get it wrong. You can check out good and bad examples of social media content and my critiques on Pinterest.

Despite all the differences between platforms, however, good content is good content. And by association, content that is bad will always be bad regardless of what platform you use and how you jazz it up.

Therefore, in order for content to be compelling, it must follow the golden rules as dictated by Vaynerchuk:

  • It must pay attention to context
  • Understand the nuances and subtle differences that make each platform unique
  • Adapt your content to match

“Right hooks” (the concept of jabs and right hooks are explained in my previous post) should meet the criteria above but must also:

  • Make the call to action simple and easy to understand
  • Be perfectly crafted for mobile and all digital devices
  • Respect the nuances of the social network for which you are making the content

When you read those, you might immediately think, “No, duh. Of course your content should be relevant to what’s happening, and of course everything has to be mobile optimized and fit the platform you’re using!” I thought the same thing. But even before my brain could finish the thought, my mind raced back to the time that we were about a hair close to using a hashtag for our Twitter chat which was already being used by a sex chat app. Talk about not paying attention to context. Or how about the time we posted a super long URL in our Instagram post to try to get people to apply to a job? We definitely missed the mark there when it came to Vaynerchuk’s golden rule of understanding the social platform’s nuances.

So let’s face it. Social media isn’t easy. It’s not magic or rocket science, but it’s definitely not as simple as copying and pasting from Facebook to Twitter to Pinterest. To help us all out, here’s a super simplified overview and comparison of the social media platforms, informed from what I learned from JJJRH as well as my own social media experience.

Platform Summarized in 10 words or less Demographics* Key pointers Secret Superpower
Facebook The king of social media platforms Everyone and their mother are on it. Literally. Slight skew towards women, but good representation across demographic groups. Keep it highly visual

Minimize text

Link appropriately

Sponsored stories (use ‘em, they’re worth it if you choose your stories well)
Twitter The cocktail party of the internet 500M users worldwide. Slight skew towards men. Content is less valuable than context. Put your own spin & context to information.

Use hashtags responsibly (& strategically)

Listen well. Capitalize on trends to push your right hooks. Take advantage of promoted tweets.
Pinterest Satisfy & feed aspirations & inspirations Mostly women (70%) and half of them are mothers. Produce dual purpose pins: pinned image should double as an ad, or be the image for longer form content.

Content should be easy to categorize (re-pinnable)

Link appropriately

“Free your brand’s personality.” Create individual boards that explore lesser known aspects of your brand to appeal to a wider audience.
Instagram The modern day magazine ad Slight skew towards women. Fair representation across demographic groups. Be hipster-esque, artistic, and authentic. Corporations die here.

No such thing as too many hashtags

Get creative & find work-arounds to platform’s limitations.

Occasional right hooks are fine, but use Instagram primarily to reinforce your brand (jab, jab, jab).

Tumblr Be cool Skews very young, and very artsy. Slight skew towards women. Use GIFs and exciting images. Throw right hooks occasionally, but do so very quietly. Customize your profile & show why you’re unique. Tumblr offers endless branding opportunities.

 *Demographics information pulled from JJJRH and also informed by PEW Research Center.

What do you think? Is there anything I missed that you would add above? Let me know in the comments!

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