Different Kinds of Social Media and How Each Can Benefit Your Business

different kinds of social media

When you’re thinking about creating a social media strategy for your business, a few leading platforms probably come to mind right away: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and maybe YouTube or Pinterest, depending on your industry.

However, there are many types of social media sites out there, with new platforms and formats popping up on the regular. Some of them are pretty niche, while others have the potential to become the next Instagram or TikTok.

One thing that’s changed since the early days of social media is that many platforms used to focus on one function, such as social networking or image sharing. Now, most established social media platforms have expanded to incorporate live streaming, augmented reality, shopping, social audio, and more.

So, instead of giving you high level descriptions of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (you can find that anywhere!), we grouped a wide variety of platforms into nine general categories that focus on specific use cases and what businesses can accomplish by using them.

How to choose the best types of social media for your business

With the ever-growing number of social media platforms, it can be overwhelming to constantly wonder whether each of them is worth your time.

To avoid spending too much of your time learning the ropes of every new platform, let your social media marketing strategy guide your decisions, and only join the networks that support your goals.

Follow these three tips to build your own criteria that will help you evaluate any new social media platform, no matter what it is or how it works.

Know your audience

The first question you should ask before joining a new social media platform is: where is your audience?

It makes more sense to go where your audience is already hanging out than to join a new platform and attract your audience to it.

The second thing to understand is how your audience is using that platform. What type of content are they looking for? Which types of accounts do they follow? Are they passive consumers or content creators?

Keep up to date with social media statistics

Whenever a new social media platform emerges, it’s essential to know the difference between a shiny new object and a fast-growing platform that has the potential to stick.

Although no one can tell the future, one way to know if a platform has staying power is to compare its statistics to established social media platforms.

Align to your key business goals

Ask yourself: which platforms match my business goals best?

For example, if one of your goals is to increase awareness about a new product or service that could benefit from video tutorials, you should focus on video-only platforms (like YouTube and Vimeo) or video formats available on the sites you’re already active on (like Instagram Stories and Reels, Facebook Live, etc.).

Types of social media platforms and formats you should know in 2021

1. Social audio platforms and formats

Examples: Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces, Spotify

Used for: Listening to live conversations on specific topics.

How your business can use them: New social audio platforms (like Clubhouse) and formats (like Twitter Spaces) have thrived during COVID-19 lockdowns while people have been at home with more time to join live conversations.

The most significant advantage of audio social media platforms and formats is the high attention and engagement you’re likely to get from opt-in listeners.

Lively, engaging conversations can help you build your image as a leader in your niche and introduce your business or products to valuable audiences already interested in topics related to your niche (otherwise, they wouldn’t be tuning in).

Here are some thought starters for using audio social media platforms:

  • Host industry panels.
  • Broadcast news and big announcements.
  • Host interactive sessions (such as AMAs) with your audience.
  • Record interviews during a live Clubhouse/Twitter Spaces chat and upload them as a podcast (example: The Social Media Geekout show).
  • Build your business’ thought leadership through a 30-60 minute show.

8. Closed/private community social media platforms

Examples: Discourse, Slack, Facebook Groups

Used for: Creating communities, with the possibility of requiring registration or other screening measures for new members.

How your business can use them: Businesses can use private groups to bring members of their community together to bond over shared challenges, help answer each other’s questions, and feel a sense of professional belonging.

As the group admin, your business has the right to set rules about things like self-promotion. Many groups (especially on Facebook) require members to answer a few questions before joining to screen out spammers, but you can also use these fields to ask members to opt-in to your email marketing list.

A great example is the Instant Pot Facebook Group, started by the brand in 2015 and has grown to over 3 million members who love sharing recipes and product tips.

9. Inspirational social media platforms

Examples: Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, blogs

Used for: Searching for information and finding inspiration for anything from cooking to travel to decorating to shopping and more.

How your business can use them: Curate visuals and inspire your target audience with content tailored to their preferences, and weave in your own products where relevant. Use collections, playlists, tags, and guides to group your content and create themes that match your audience’s interests.

Inspirational social media platforms like Pinterest and YouTube are well-optimized for search, which means your posts should include keywords, hashtags, and images that align with what your audience usually searches for.

Travel bloggers often do a great job of optimizing their blog posts and YouTube videos for searches like “What to do in [Destination]” and “[Destination] Travel Guide.”


Whether you’re building a community or evaluating new platforms for your business to join, there are many types of social media you can use. Some are pretty much mandatory for any business, while others only make sense if they align with your specific niches or use cases. Whatever your needs and goals, it’s a safe bet you’ll find a way to use social media to benefit your business.



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