5 Types of Social Media: Explained with Use Cases

Jahnavi Bhuyan

September 25, 20239 min read

Share this Article

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that social media is great for brand awareness. 

But it is also so much more than that. 

Whether you run a small local shop or a big national company, social media not only has the power to amplify your brand image but also influence your marketing and sales funnels. From building brand authority and reputation to impacting product development and customer interaction, social media is the tool for you. 

The only catch — you should and must know how to use it. 

Today, we’ll be exploring and helping you understand the different types of social media, along with 5 successful marketing use cases. And by the end of the article, you’ll have a good idea of how to strategize your social media game. 

So, let's begin with the basics.

Table of Contents

What is social media?

Social media is a collective term for websites and applications that share ideas and information through virtual networks. It facilitates communication, community-based input, interaction, content-sharing and collaboration. 

Various platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, X (formerly Twitter) and YouTube, allow people to share content, interact online and build communities.

What are the different types of social media?

The main aspect that differentiates social media platforms is the type of content that’s on them. With that said, let’s take a closer look at the various types of social media.

1. Social networking sites

Social networking sites are mainly used to connect with people you may or may not know. They focus more on person-to-person conversations and knowledge-sharing. These platforms are considered the center of communication and accommodate different content formats, like text, photos and videos. 

These sites allow users and businesses to:

  • Create and share content and thoughts with groups that have similar interests

  • Promote products and services and reach a wider and more diverse audience with advertisements

  • Reach and influence the right people with specific metrics and demographics by using an immense amount of data

Examples of social networking platforms:

  • Facebook 

  • X (formerly Twitter) 

  • LinkedIn 

  • TikTok

2. Image-based sites

You might have heard the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, image-based sites are bringing this phrase to life by allowing users to share content in the form of infographics, illustrations and images. 

These platforms inspire creativity. Businesses can encourage their audience to generate unique content to engage with their brand while boosting sales through shoppable posts and images. 

Some sites like Instagram and Pinterest allow business accounts to post images linked to their shoppable items. These usually pop up in the feed with a shopping link and users can proceed to the merchant store to complete their transaction. 

Image-based sites are great for businesses dealing in apparel, handicrafts, accessories and similar products. 

Here are some popular image-sharing networks:

  • Instagram

  • Pinterest

  • Flickr

  • Photobucket

3. Video-hosting platforms

Marketers and businesses see tremendous benefits in using videos, as  91% of consumers want more online video content from brands. It’s one of the most captivating and engaging forms of content that aids assimilation and understanding.

People usually search for all kinds of things in video content, including “how-tos” and “tutorials.” As a brand, you can leverage these platforms to impart information, promote a new product, answer questions or announce new features and packages. 

Brands can also use paid ads to reach new customers or collaborate with influencers to promote their products. Also, if you don’t have a page, profile or social media channel dedicated to your business, you can still advertise on these platforms.

Here are some well-known video-hosting platforms:

  • YouTube

  • TikTok

  • Snapchat

  • Vimeo

4. Discussion forums

Discussion forums are essential platforms that encourage users to answer each other’s questions and share new ideas and news. They’re designed to spark conversations based on shared interests or curiosity.

Businesses can use these platforms to better understand how people perceive their brand and products. You can also start by answering questions correctly to increase your credibility on these forums. This could lead to increased visits to your business or product website. The selection of the right questions to answer is vital here, as it is a chance for you to introduce your products and services without looking like you’re directly advertising.

Some of the most-visited discussion forums are:

  • Reddit

  • Digg

  • Quora

  • Clubhouse

5. Blog and community platforms

Blogging platforms are a great way to provide valuable and educational insights that could be related to your product or business. This way, you’ll be informing your audience about specific problems and their solutions as an expert, and you can ultimately position your product as the better way to go. 

What’s more, when relevant and helpful, your blogs can drive more traffic to your website. You can post blogs about using your product creatively or discuss the trending topics in your industry or niche. All of this will also help in building a community around your brand. 

Here are some of the renowned blogging and publishing networks:

  • Medium

  • Tumblr

  • WordPress 

What are their marketing use cases?

Now, let's go through some of the most successful use cases for each of the types of social media we covered. 

1. Social networking sites: Shopify’s iconic “get your hands dirty” ad on Facebook  

Shopify is a user-friendly e-commerce platform that encourages and enables small businesses to build an online store and sell online through one streamlined dashboard. The key idea of Shopify is to offer a platform to anybody interested in selling stuff but is unable to do so due to the lack of the right tool.

It created a beautiful, simple and encouraging advertisement for Facebook that urged audiences to turn their hobbies into businesses.

A Shopify ad on Facebook showing a potter in action

Source 

What worked for Shopify?

  • A thought-provoking picture encouraging artists to embrace their inner passion and turn it into a business

  • Simple, clear and concise copy that complements the picture

  • A clear CTA

2. Image-based site: Adidas Neo’s exposure campaign with #MyNeoShoot on Instagram

One of the easiest ways to draw attention via Instagram marketing is through sponsored advertisement campaigns. Brands can collaborate with popular influencers to bring in views and engagement.

Adidas went a step further with their promotions by not spending a single dime.

Here's how.

It asked its followers to publish Adidas-inspired posts on Instagram and share their own experiences. It worked like magic and generated more than 71,000 mentions that had the hashtag #MyNeoShoot, and the brand ended up gaining more than 41,000 followers.

The -myneoshoot campaign on Instagram that featured Selena Gomez

Source 

What worked for Adidas?

  • Making the audience feel valued, heard and important

  • Brilliant use of social engagement

  • Relating the brand to stories and personal experiences

3. Video sharing and streaming platform: Slack’s relatable and innovative video ad on YouTube

Given that the average attention span of an individual nowadays is about 8 seconds, it makes sense to explore and try video advertising for your brand.  

Here are some more statistics that will help you gauge the effectiveness of video advertising in the current business landscape:

  • Viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video compared to just 10% when they’re reading plain text

  • 68% of consumers prefer watching videos instead of going through articles, infographics, ebooks and presentations when they’re trying to learn about new products or services

Here’s a Slack video ad so you get an indea of what successful video marketing content looks like.

What worked for Slack?

  • Employing a relatable storyline that tells how “all kinds of people on all kinds of teams use Slack to do amazing things”

  • Using playful animations (like that of a “Minions” movie) makes the video more enjoyable

  • Highlighting the benefits of Slack for team communication and collaboration

  • Voiceover at the end aligns with the Slack brand, which is casual, friendly and approachable

4. Discussion forums: Beardbrand’s ready answers on Reddit

Beardbrand is an online company dealing in haircare products, specifically for beards. Its product line includes softeners, scented oils, trimmers, scissors and more. 
 
Its took its marketing efforts to the r/beards subreddit forum. It browsed the forum and found a common topic in many users' questions — beard oil. 

Then, it started answering all the questions and sharing its journey.

It began posting short, bulleted lists and informative explanations on Reddit.

Beardbrand-s post on the r-entrepreneur subreddit

Source 

Beardbrand also took the initiative to interact with people’s comments. It was always there with an answer when users asked about the application, chemical makeup, etc.

What worked for Beardbrand?

  • A focused and well-researched strategy

  • Building credibility and brand reputation by answering questions and sharing informative content

  • Constant communication to stay visible

5. Blogs and community platforms: Vans embracing its rebellious and youthful spirit on Tumblr

Vans is a famous shoe brand known for tapping into its cultural heritage and providing a social experience that is aspirational, inspirational and nostalgic.

The brand uses social media as a mutually beneficial exchange, where the brand defines the community, and the community defines the brand. The best way to establish this is by creating an awesome Tumblr.

Vans used high-quality and creative images representing the lifestyle of its audience and the brand.

Vans- Tumblr page

Source 

What worked for Vans?

  • Vans' smart research to discover where its audience hangs out and the lifestyle it indulges in

  • Relatable and shareable content for the audience

  • Embracing the rebellious, communal and youthful spirit the brand is known for

Reasons to improve your social media marketing strategy

If you’re still not sold on how social media can make a world of difference in your marketing efforts, here are a few solid reasons.

Building brand awareness

You can use social media to tell your story and encourage others to share how they feel about and relate to your brand. This is a great way to build brand awareness and reputation. You can also grow your audience without making huge investments.  

All you need to do is post consistent and relatable content for your audience. 

Generating leads  

You can create meaningful conversations and engage your audience better by posting photos, videos and news about interesting trends in your industry. This will help build deeper connections with potential customers.  

This can result in gaining new leads and drive organic growth for your brand on social media.  

Greater customer insights  

Social media allows you to listen to what people share about your company. You can get candid feedback about how others perceive your brand. You can build custom audiences and tailor your strategies by getting insights into customer data and activities. 

You can monitor the number of visitors who were interested in your content, clicked call-to-action plugs or purchased from your brand to create more personalized content. You can then improve the weak links of your businesses while reinforcing aspects that resonate with people.  

Sprinklr Tip: Utilizing AI-based conversation suggestions and bots can help your social media managers to engage more effectively with audiences without feeling any rush or pressure. 

Measuring marketing efforts  

Social media platforms and other management tools help you monitor key performance metrics (KPIs) to show you the extent and build-up of your organically engaged audience, among other valuable information. 

You can keep an eye on your competitors by analyzing their marketing strategies when it comes to their style of marketing, type of content and profile performance. 

Driving thought leadership  

Social media is a great platform to learn about people's problems and interests. This allows you to drive thought leadership by providing solutions.  

You can start by creating how-to guides, webinars and why-is-it-not-working advice to help people. This establishes you as an industry expert and helps in gaining people's trust. 

Learn More: How to create a social media marketing strategy from scratch  

Wrapping up

Such a diverse range of features and benefits puts social media among the top tools for marketing. 

It also demands you be present and cater to the audience's needs and comments as quickly as possible. This is doable for a human team without a social tool to a certain extent. However, it gets better with technology. 

Using a smart, AI-driven tool like Sprinklr Social will allow you to be present and engage with audiences across multiple platforms, all from a single, unified dashboard.  

Give it a try today to take your social media marketing to a whole new level.

Share this Article

Related Topics

How to Determine Social Media Marketing Effectiveness Content Calendar for Social Media: 4 Quick Steps to Get Started11 Social Media Trends in 2024 [+Actionable Tips]