Go beyond Facebook to find audience growth on these social platforms.
Marketing & Growth
December 15, 2022
Recent problems at Twitter - the rise of hate speech, chaotic mass layoffs and upset advertisers - have many wondering if the age of social media is over. Advertisers, users and major platforms like Apple are expressing their concerns about Twitter’s management changes under Elon Musk. At this point, it’s unclear if or when Twitter can rebuild after the turmoil it suffered in 2022.
The problems at Twitter might make you wonder if you should refocus your marketing efforts outside social media. Fortunately, there are still several thriving social media platforms that you might not be active on yet.
There are a few considerations to remember when choosing where you spend your time and resources on social media. Before looking at the specific platforms, it’s wise to acknowledge the inherent limitations of these platforms. When you build a following on social media, the platform owns the relationship rather than you. That means that the price of reaching your audience can change anytime and other changes can interfere with your ability to interact with the audience. Your goal on social media should always be to bring your audience back to your website.
With that caveat in mind, the next question is to find out what your audience is spending time on. Some platforms like YouTube are so large that they have almost every audience if you search enough. Other platforms, like TikTok, tend to skew toward a certain demographic (i.e., people under the age of 30). Generally, picking one or two platforms to focus your attention on is the best bet.
Purchased by Google for $1.65 billion in 2006, YouTube has grown to become one of the largest social media platforms. Initially, YouTube focused on video sharing alone. Over time, the video platform has added many social features, such as likes, comments, and the ability to follow accounts.
YouTube is home to a combination of professional media brands like Coca-Cola, Disney, BMW, Google, Chanel, Nintendo, and Lego. In addition, many news outlets and broadcasters, including NBC, Fox, and the BBC, have a large following on the platform. The smaller channels are what makes YouTube particularly special, though.
According to a YouTube estimate, over 300,000 in the US make a full-time living from working on the video platform. As CNN points out, this means that there are more full-time YouTubers than dentists in the US. That said, the 80/20 rule certainly applies to YouTube. CNN estimates that “3% of YouTube channels get 90% of the site's traffic.” Given YouTube’s large audience, there are still tremendous opportunities to grow a following on the platform.
Building a following on YouTube requires creating and publishing videos regularly. Three different video formats and lengths work well on the platform. Some channels regularly publish extended interviews and other content over 60 minutes. Other channels provide short tutorials on various topics like makeup, computer use, and home repair.
Some brands are reluctant to invest in YouTube despite its large audience because they lack video production capabilities or experience. If you have limited video production and editing capabilities in house, you can work with agencies and freelancers to assist you. If that is not a good fit for your brand, the other option is to use YouTube as an advertising platform. Buy ads or pay influencers to create sponsored segments about your brand.
If you are more comfortable with a text-based social media platform, Reddit might be the perfect choice for your needs.
The rapid growth of TikTok, especially for younger users under 30, has been one of the biggest social media stories of the past few years. Based in China, TikTok also stands out as one of the few international social media platforms to have taken off in the US. Unlike YouTube, which hosts many different kinds of video, TikTok videos are currently limited to 10 minutes though many shorter videos are popular.
As a newer social media platform, there are still major opportunities to grow an audience on the platform. For brands open to using humor, comedy, and music, TikTok is especially popular.
Search Engine Journal reports that adding music, audio, creative editing, and hashtags all help videos to perform effectively.
As with YouTube, you have a few options to leverage TikTok for growth. The first option is to create an account and build your following. Consumer brands like Chipotle, Guess, and Red Bull have all performed well on the platform. Publishers like the Daily Mail, the BBC, and the Telegraph are also starting to find success on the platform. You don’t need professional-level on-screen talent, either. Many of the most successful content creators on YouTube, are small operations with a single person or a small group. That less polished video look is often perceived as more authentic.
If building an organic channel on the platform isn’t a good fit, consider advertising options. Advertising options that leverage the community, such as challenges and inviting people to contribute videos related to your brand, tend to perform well. Another option is to work directly with influencers to create sponsored content.
If your brand is already creating successful video content on YouTube, your website and other platforms, you owe it to yourself to look hard at TikTok.
Reddit is one of the oldest social websites on the Internet. Drawing inspiration from text-based discussion forums, Reddit is the best thought as a community of communities. Many tightly focused “subreddits” focused on specific topics and interests. Some of the largest subreddits include funny (40 million subscribers), gaming (32 million subscribers), and world news (27 million subscribers).
While it is smaller than TikTok, YouTube, or LinkedIn, Reddit’s appeal is twofold. The platform’s many specialized communities offer a lesson on the art of online community building. Studying rules on Reddit’s largest subreddits can be helpful for inspiration on how to grow your online community. It’s also interesting to note that much of the enforcement on Reddit comes from the platform’s users rather than employees.
There are a few ways to use Reddit to grow your audience. The simplest option is to buy ads on the platform. You can buy displays, sponsored Q&As, and sponsored links. Successfully advertising on the platform does come with some challenges. Some Reddit users loudly object to advertising in almost any form. To minimize this type of brand disruption, take the time to study the platform. Making the effort to honor the platform’s conventions, jargon, and community standards will give you an advantage.
Twitch is smaller than all other platforms profiled but has a passionate and exceptionally engaged audience. Twitch is most popular with the gamer community, including fans of traditional video games and tabletop role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons. The success of entertainment brands like Critical Roll have largely come through Twitch.
For users, Twitch offers a community entertainment experience. Viewers can watch skilled gamers play games like League of Legends, Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty. Conceptually, Twitch’s appeal is similar to major league spectator sports - the thrill of watching the people compete! Some of the most successful Twitch content creators have regularly adopted a schedule of streaming their games.
Some brands might be inclined to write off Twitch as unrelated to their brands or strategy. In reality, Twitch presents an excellent opportunity to reach Gen Z. Harvard Business Review points out that Twitch is about more than just gaming: beauty, cooking, fitness and music are taking off on the platform. In addition, Harvard Business Review reported, “It has more than 7 million unique creators streaming each month and more than 30 million daily visitors, who spend an average of 29 minutes per session on the platform [in 2021].”
Beyond buying ads on the platform, consider spending some time through the various streamers active on the platform. For example, HappyChefTV is a cooking channel with more than 30,000 followers. Depending on your brand, this channel could be a good fit for any number of home and kitchen companies. Even NASA has found a significant audience - over 1 million followers - on Twitch. Once you find a streamer that fits with your brand, contact them to see if they are interested in working with you.
Beyond the platforms listed above, many social media services are tightly focused on a specific interest. While smaller platforms may not have the vast audiences of TikTok or YouTube, the smaller size brings other advantages. It’s easier to find a focused audience. It may also be easier to build relationships with influencers.
Ultimately, building a presence on any social media platform comes at a cost. Whether you build an organic following or use advertising, you rent capacity on someone else’s platform. To mitigate this risk, empowering your website with community live chat or syndicated live blog functionality is vital. Learn more about Arena Live Chat - it’s one of the fastest and easiest ways to add a community experience to your website.