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Social Media Marketing (SMM) in a World of Copycat Platforms

Rebel Staff,

Social Wars

There’s always something new happening with organic social media — or is there? Once upon a time (in a galaxy not so far away) Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Snapchat, and TikTok had their differences; their unique selling points, if you will. There were different reasons to be on different platforms. But now? Maybe not so much. 

Facebook contended LinkedIn by adding job postings in 2017, Twitter challenged Snapchat with their new stories feature, and Instagram famously battled TikTok with Reels (I could go on). It seems like creativity is dying among social media giants as they compete for more users, higher engagement, and the most features. Enter: Social Wars — coming soon to a smartphone, tablet, or computer near you. 

With the all-in-one mentality becoming more and more popular, how’s a marketer to know what content to post on what platform? As an organic social media Jedi master (official title pending with the Rebel leaders) I’m here to help.

This Sounds Like A Trap

Let’s look at what platforms offer what features. And because we love visual data at Rebel, I made an infographic.

No one wants to see that many Xs in one place, amiright? But in all seriousness, this confirms my Social Wars theory from earlier: These channels are copying each other and competing for users. You’d think they’d want to stand out in a crowd of copycats. What’s most interesting about the above is TikTok has the least amount of features on that list, yet it shattered app download records in Q1 2020 (of which I contributed to) and continues to rise in popularity. People are satisfied with simplicity. 

Proof from Harvard Business Review: “[Marketers] assume, that offering 50 styles of jeans instead of two increases the chances that shoppers will find a pair they really like. Nevertheless, research now shows that there can be too much choice; when there is, consumers are less likely to buy anything at all, and if they do buy, they are less satisfied with their selection.”

(Is that why I’m always so happy with Chipotle Mexican Grill?)

And although the platforms are free to use, they make money through advertising. So, they think: more features = more users = more revenue. Investopedia writer Greg McFarlane shares the facts: “Facebook has over 2.5 billion monthly active users worldwide and estimates the average revenue per user (ARPU) in 2019 was $8.52. Facebook’s ARPU comes primarily through profits earned from advertisers who use the platform to reach customers.”

This is true for any free platform that serves ads. And so, when a new, hot feature hits the apps, every social media giant wants in whether it makes sense to do so or not.

You’re Their Only Hope

Now that we know the who, what, and why, let’s dive into the how: How do these platforms differ when they offer comparable features? Well, despite Facebook and LinkedIn providing essentially the same features, anyone who’s used both platforms wouldn’t consider them exactly similar. Understanding the differences is the key to organic social media marketing.

It comes down to the community atmosphere and where your audience is spending their time. Hit these proverbial nails on their heads (do your research) to find what platforms work for your business and how to tailor your message to each respective audience group. Consider your brand values when reviewing the following:

  • Facebook — Casual, family-oriented // male users (19.3%) and female users (13.2%) between the ages of 25 and 34 years are the biggest demographic group
  • Instagram — Curated, authentic, supportive // primarily female audience, 67% of U.S. users are ages 18-29
  • Twitter — Informative, conversational, opinion-based // primarily male audience, 38% of U.S. users are between the ages of 18 and 29, 26% of users are 30-49 years old
  • LinkedIn — Professional, informative // primarily female audience (slightly), 24% of users are Millennials
  • TikTok — Creative, authentic, witty // primarily male audience (slightly), 41% of TikTok users are between ages 16 and 24
  • YouTube — Creative, professional, brand-focused // 89% of YouTube users come from outside the U.S., 77% of 15–35 year-olds in the U.S. use YouTube
  • Snapchat — Impulsive, private, in-the-moment content // 61% of users are female and 38% are male, 48% of U.S. users are 15-25 years old

Who are you trying to target? What are your brand values? Determine which platforms sync with your audience and mission and disseminate your content there. Remember — and I can’t stress this enough — more isn’t always better/quality over quantity/just because you can doesn’t mean you should… you get the idea. (I mean, all Mando really needed was one X-Wing, right?)

Organic social media strategy should be executed with reason. Consider the above bullet points, research your competitors, use tools to determine your audience, and look at historical data to develop a strategy that works. Test new content types and ideas, and record their performance; what’s working? What’s not? Try, tweak, and perfect as you go.

In a galaxy full of content, it’s difficult to cut through the noise and stand out from your competitors. But you don’t have to go through this (Han) solo — Rebel approaches organic social media strategically to grow your following, engagement, impressions, and more in 12 parsecs or less. 

A promise, that is.