There are lots of different social media platforms and you don’t have to be on them all. Each platform has a slightly different group of people using it and content is consumed differently. Knowing your ideal audience will help you choose which platforms to focus on.  If you choose to use multiple platforms you should tweak your content slightly when posting it to different places to get the best responses.  

A big part of your digital strategy is deciding which networks to use and how to use them, but first you need to know what they are.

A mobile phone with icons for 7 main social media networks visible
What are the differences between social media platforms?

The Main Social Networks and Media Sharing Sites


Instagram is all about the visual. It started with sharing images with a short caption and then developed to allow videos to be shared too. They keep bringing out new features, but it remains about making a visual connection with the audience.

Different Features of Instagram 

Grid - Your grid is made up of images or videos with captions. Square images work best, but landscape or portrait options can be used if preferred.

Stories - Stories are portrait videos up to 15 seconds long (although you can share still images too). They are generally more real and raw than grid images. You can record up to a minutes worth of video at a time (4 frames). Stories are visible for 24 hours only unless you save them to your Highlights. 

Lives - You can go Live on Instagram, streaming a continuous video to your followers and anyone who wants to watch. You can invite people to share the live with you (which will split the screen) and viewers can leave comments. Lives can be up to 4 hours long and you can save them to be viewed afterwards.

IGTV - You can upload videos of between 15 seconds and 10 minutes long. This was Instagram’s attempt to take on YouTube but it’s not been as popular as they hoped, partly because they aren’t as easy to search. Portrait videos work best, but it now accepts Landscape orientation too. 

Shops - If you are a shop you can set up your products with Facebook and Instagram so people can easily shop through your page.

Reels - Instagram Reels are proving pretty popular. They are 15 or 30 second portrait videos and are pretty similar to TikTok.

Guides - Instagram guides are the latest feature to be released. They allow you to effectively create albums of up to 30 posts (grid images or Reels) with a summary of what they are about. You can include your own and other people’s content in your Guides. As well as albums of posts you can have albums of products from shops on Instagram (if you favourite the item and it will appear in the list for you to add).

Gaining Followers on Instagram

People who like your content can follow you so new content will be shown to them in their feed, based on Instagram’s algorithm of what it thinks they want to see. People can engage with your content by liking, commenting, saving or sharing it. The main ways to reach new people on Instagram are using hashtags, location tagging, paying to promote your content or people sharing your content via their stories. 


A huge number of people have Facebook accounts which makes it a great place to reach them with your content. People’s Facebook accounts are meant to be set up with real names and be for real people unlike most other social media where people have usernames.

Everyone has a personal feed on Facebook filled with a combination of friend's status updates, posts friends have shared, posts from groups they are in and updates from pages they follow.

Pages are a great way to communicate with your audience and people can like or follow your page to see what you post. Posts can be just words, words and images, videos or links. They can like, share and comment on your posts. When people who don’t follow you engage with your content you can invite them to like your page.

Groups are about having more of a conversation. Groups work best when all members create posts and comment with other people’s posts. They can be set up as private so that only the people in that group can see what is written, or they can be public and seen by everyone.

Growth on Facebook is mainly through people sharing your Pages content.

You can go live on Facebook in a similar way to Instagram (Facebook owns Instagram) and save Lives to be watched later. 


Twitter is a fast moving media where people post short messages (Tweets) up to 280 characters long. They can also share images, videos and links. People can reply to tweets, like them or share them (called retweeting).

Twitter is probably the only network that still allows people to have a chronological timeline meaning you see tweets in order, this allows it to be seen in real time, but there is also an algorithm option where it will show people what they think they want to see.

If people follow you then your tweets appear in their timeline. If someone retweets you then your post will appear in their followers feed too. This is one of the ways to reach new people, but you can also use hashtags to be found and people can search on any words.

Twitter has recently introduced Fleets on mobile which are basically like Tweets, but they only last 24 hours before they are gone. It will be interesting to see how well these are used.


Initially thought of as being the realm of young people miming to songs and voiceovers TikTok users are now more widely representative and the variety of content is huge. Content is mostly short videos with either original or borrowed soundtracks.

There are 2 feeds: one has the videos of the people they follow and the other (the For You Page) is tailored with new content from others they might be interested in. TikTok is pretty good at identifying people’s interests based on who they follow, the posts they engage with and hashtags they look at. The more someone uses it the more it will tailor it’s For You Page to show content they will like so people watch a huge amount of content from people they don’t follow.

One of the great things about TikTok is that if a video gets good engagement (eg people watching it multiple times, liking it, commenting on it, following the creator, or duetting) it will show it to more and more people meaning you don’t have to have a lot of followers to have a video go viral.


LinkedIn is a professional network primarily used by people to look for jobs and connect with other people in their areas of work. People’s profile page is essentially a CV. It is a good way to share achievements and can be used to share blog posts and articles, but it’s not the place to share silly videos or sell products.

When you connect with others you get updates on when you change jobs or share articles and you can see their profile page.


Pinterest is great way to collect content you like and share it with others. People curate a library of pins (content) which they want to be able come back to later or they think others might like either by linking from the source or repinning content others have shared.

People can search for content which is shared with (ideally) portrait images that you click through to go to the original source (eg the blog post).  As it is effectively a search engine the number of people who see what you share is more to do with the pin description and how visually appealing/ tempting the pin is than how many people follow you. Pins can include products to buy or video.


While other video libraries exist (like Vimeo) YouTube is still by far the most popular. There is a huge amount of content on there and it is growing constantly. Videos can be up to 12 hours long (or 128gb).

People can follow you on YouTube but for most people the bulk of views are via your video appearing in search results (via Google or within YouTube) or as suggested videos from similar content. The title of the video and the description are important to help YouTube understand what it is about and to help it appear in search results.


In addition to the social media networks and media sharing sites mentioned above there are a huge number of smaller platforms which might work for your business, these include Twitch, Tumbler, Snapchat and a huge number of direct messaging services.