What are the different types of social media?

What are the different types of social media?

woman researching the different types of social media on a laptop

If you are marketing your business online, then you are, no doubt, aware of the incredible benefits of social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn), along with a handful of others. But, did you know there is far more to social media than the social sharing networks we all know and love? Look beyond those traditional social media marketing platforms, and you’ll find all kinds of systems used to connect people online.

While there was once a time you could categorise social networks based on their functions (YouTube for video, Twitter for news, and so on), but things have moved on. As more networks expand to include live streaming and augmented reality, the lines are blurred.

Here’s our list of the different types of social media:

  • Social media networks
  • Discussion forums
  • Social shopping networks
  • Blogging sites

Knowing how people use these different platforms can open up ideas to promote your content so that you can engage with your audience more effectively.

Social media networks:

Why people use social media networks: To promote their businesses through live video, posting and advertising.

Platforms: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube.

These social media platforms are some of the most iconic in existence. They are used on a daily basis by people across the globe, which makes them an ideal place to promote your business. While the majority of these platforms use text to communicate, the likes of Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube are primarily image-led. Along with videos and images, users can upload comments, captions and mentions, or filters that make you look like a bunny.

When deliberating whether your business should have a social media presence, you should first consider the most suitable platform. Where does your audience spend the most time? If you operate in the B2B market, then LinkedIn will connect you with other like-minded professionals. For an ecommerce business, with the goal to maximise sales, head to Facebook or Instagram. Here are some of the most common social media platforms and their functions:


Facebook is fantastic for reach, impressions and clicks. While the platform is moving towards user-generated content, there is still a place for targeted advertising and product promotion. In fact, Facebook is driven by paid advertising. If you think about it, the greater your performance, the more money you are likely to put back into the system. Common sense, really.

Unlike its rival, Twitter, Facebook is predominantly a pay to play platform. You can grow your reach organically using Facebook, however, it will take much longer. For results faster, and to effectively double your profits, use Facebook ads. This is a platform for companies who have the budget and time set aside for advertising. When done right, setting up a Facebook ad can drive highly targeted traffic to your page. It’s particularly effective if you have an existing target market you want to approach. For those newbies, split testing and tweaking your ads accordingly is the best method for sustained growth.


From celebrity announcements to news updates that spread like wildfire, Twitter gives you access to trending topics. It’s the go-to location when it comes to finding out what is happening in the world, right now.

Twitter allows you to build meaningful connections with people across the globe in 140 characters or less. All that it takes is one carefully placed hashtag, and you’re good to go. No budget necessary. That’s not to say you don’t need to do your research. Research is essential!

If you don’t know who you are tweeting to, or worse, what you are tweeting about, there’s a good chance you will be subject to negative comments. This is when a social media marketer needs to be primed and ready to reply before things spiral out of control. Trust us; things can escalate pretty quickly on Twitter. One negative comment can soon turn into a loss of trust from customers across the globe.


The first thing you should understand about Instagram is that, out of all the social media types, it’s the most focused on visual content. The most successful Instagram feeds have a combination of professional photography, themes and colours. Instagram most appropriate for lifestyle brands, such as fashion, sport and home interiors. These industries rely on visual content to advertise their products and services.

Instagram shopping is a social media type.

If selling for profit is your primary goal, then consider using the ‘click to buy’ function and Instagram stories to connect users with your website sales page.


LinkedIn helps professionals connect and network through comments, blogging, posts and inmails. It’s an ideal social network to share industry updates, job listings and to liaise with fellow businessmen and women. SEO is a prime example. We regularly share our website audit tool with business owners and marketing managers on LinkedIn. It allows them to analyse the performance of their website in just 15 seconds and presents actionable steps to outrank the competition.

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Anyway, back to the point at hand. These promotions are directly related to solving problems that business owners face. We contact them directly with this free resource and they jump at the opportunity to improve their online visibility. The same applies to any industry looking to promote their services and build lasting connections.


Success with video marketing has hit a record high -81% of businesses use video as a marketing tool, and it’s not hard to see why. If you want to make your content strategy more engaging, set up a YouTube channel, and promote your posts on social media. There are a lot of options when it comes to video marketing, so get your creative hat on a start strategising the best ways to increase conversion rate using video.

Any brand can create success using videos on YouTube. The best types of content are how-to guides with a do-it-yourself element. These are some of the most searched for videos and they get a high click-through rate. What’s even more amazing? When optimised correctly, with keywords in the title and website links in the descriptions, YouTube videos can rank incredibly well in the search results.

Discussion forums:

Platforms: Reddit, Quora, Digg.

These platforms are used to discuss topics, comment and share news. They are especially useful if you want to carry out audience research. Instead of contacting customers directly, the floor is opened up to members of the public. People ask all kinds of questions on discussion forums, such as Quora and Digg, so this is a great place to start compiling responses.

Quora, a type of social media.

While this type of social media is used to gather responses, it also provides an insight popular questions customers are asking. What does your audience want to know? Perhaps they are one questions away from making a purchase. Can you point them in the right direction? Absolutely. This is your chance to offer up as much information as you can to help them on their way.

Remember, while the goal here is to get them to visit your site, don’t come across too promotional. You want to aim for practical, not pushy. An industry leader who is more than happy to direct them to a carefully constructed blog post, guide or resource featured on your site.

Social shopping networks:

Platforms: Etsy, 21 Buttons

Of course, when it comes to ecommerce, existing social media networks are designed with social selling in mind. Pinterest features ‘buyable pins’ and Facebook has a ‘targeted ads’ section. Social shopping networks take this to a new level giving you the option to set up a profile on an existing site that ranks well and has already secured credibility internationally. They already have the traffic. It’s down to you to sell the products!


This type of social media allows you to sell online without having a brick and mortar location, and networks such as Etsy do the majority of the work for you. All that is required is for you to include product images, a company logo, description and reviews. Keep in mind that the same rules apply! People are more likely to hit that buy button if you have great customer feedback and photography that sells your products.

Etsy, a type of social media.

What’s so great about Etsy is that customers can upload images with their reviews. So, potential customers can see the final product in the homes of others. No flash photography. These raw, in the moment, images often sell products for you. If it looks that good, with no editing or professional photography involved, I want it too!

21 Buttons:

This one is relatively new to the social shopping scene but has already taken the online world by storm. We’re, of course, talking about 21 buttons. This clever app was created in collaboration with many online influencers, vloggers and bloggers who upload photos of themselves wearing outfits (often #ads) to promote brands. What’s so unique about this app is the ability to make a commission on every item of clothing sold through your profile. It’s basically affiliate marketing for millennials!

Blogging sites:

Platforms: WordPress, Tumblr

Content marketing can be a great way to promote your products and help you rank in the search results. Blogging platforms, such as WordPress and Tumblr, give brands the opportunity to encourage discovery, engagement and collaboration. These posts not only give you more content to share on social media networks, like Facebook, but they also give you the opportunity to be found for key industry terms. Find the right keywords, optimise your content correctly, and that’s another revenue stream right there. Read more about the importance of SEO to help your business capture more customers online.

With time and effort, anything is possible using different types of social media.

As we all know, it is well worth setting up social media accounts for our business. But the problem lies in which social media types to select! This can be especially tricky when you are new to the world of social media marketing.

If you are still feeling a little stuck and need some guidance, our friendly team at Bigfoot Digital would be happy to help. Our service costs depend on your specific requirements, and we never charge you more than we have to. We believe in effective yet affordable marketing across the board.

Want to find out how our services can make the most of your business? Contact us today on 01226 720 755 – a member of our knowledgeable team will be able to assist you and answer any questions you may have.