LinkedIn, TikTok and Instagram all get plenty of mentions, but which came out on top?
A central tenet of modern marketing is the belief that social media is king.
It is hard to believe that public access to the all-conquering internet only started less than 30 years ago, yet today there are an estimated 4.89 billion total social media users worldwide according to Statista.
Of the social media platforms, Facebook remains the most popular with nearly 3 billion people using it monthly, closely followed by YouTube, WhatsApp, Instagram, WeChat and TikTok. Also in the top 20 are Snapchat (10th), LinkedIn (16th) and Discord (18th).
So, it is unsurprising that marketing teams around the globe are scrambling around to attract this tuned-in, ready-made (and mostly free) audience.
Or as co-founder & Chief Brand Officer at creative intelligence firm Contagious, Paul Kemp-Robertson, affirms: “Fundamentally social media is owned and influenced by users, not marketers. So be curious and open-minded: Listen and learn and behave like a guest in someone else’s space.”
In addition, new research from Sprout Social conducted by The Harris Poll reveals 80% of businesses anticipate their company’s social media budget will increase over the next three years.
We spoke to a selection of senior marketers, social experts and business leaders to collate where brands are focusing their attentions.
James Kirkham, founder, ICONIC: ‘TikTok is the most popular platform of this era’
“Social is no longer a two-way conversation, nor is it about dialogue or really even community. To succeed right now in social means you’re a brilliant broadcaster.
“You’ll likely play arresting sharable content predicated on passions via Instagram Reels or YouTube Shorts. But without question the one ‘social platform’ you’d recommend to senior marketers and business leaders would be TikTok.
“It is not just another social app. It is absolutely the single most ascendant and popular platform of this era. It commands more user attention than Facebook and Instagram combined, but the sheer weight of watch time makes it more of a competitor to Netflix, HBO and Hulu than the previous incarnations of ‘social’.”
Henrique Cruz, head of growth at Rows: ‘I’d focus on the trio of YouTube Shorts, Instagram Reels, and TikTok’
“One aspect of social media that has revolutionised the way brands interact with their audiences is short-format video. If I were a brand looking to increase awareness and had to choose one social media platform to invest our resources in, I’d focus on the trio of YouTube Shorts, Instagram Reels, and TikTok. These platforms have changed what it means to ‘go viral’ and how content is distributed. They are also increasingly the ‘go-to’ channel for brands seeking to reach audiences of any type, anywhere.”
Paul Neto, co-founder and CMO, Measure Protocol: ‘TikTok is becoming a search destination’
“The behavioural data presented in our most recent App Life report, provides accurate data on actual usage of services and apps – it is dangerous to make assumptions without careful monitoring.
“And the most interesting data point in this report is the significant growth of search within TikTok. It shows that people are spending a huge amount of time on this platform. Increasingly TikTok is becoming a shopping and a search destination, too, whether for travel ideas or recipes – and an awful lot besides. Content is changing and so are users’ behaviours. By way of example, two of the most popular search terms are ‘how to’ and ‘what is’, with consumers turning to TikTok for informative content rather than mere entertainment.”
Cat Anderson, head of international marketing, Sprout Social: ‘TikTok is set up to grab attention’
“At the moment, my favourite social media platform is TikTok. It’s constantly evolving, full of creativity, humour, and raw authenticity which keeps it an exciting platform day to day. TikTok is also a platform which has kept creators at its heart. As one of the youngest digital platforms, it has grown rapidly and is now a powerful platform. TikTok can help creators reach a wide audience and is set up to engage and grab attention.”
Michael Bush, managing director, Climb Online: ‘LinkedIn is number one for B2B’
“The best social media platform for marketers, particularly in the B2B realm, is undoubtedly LinkedIn. Its exceptional organic reach, access to influential decision makers and laser-focused targeting make it the ultimate marketing powerhouse for forging meaningful business connections and driving success.”
Marco Fiori, managing director at Bamboo PR: ‘Most people are respectful on LinkedIn’
“LinkedIn. LinkedIn. LinkedIn. A vast audience that seeks out human stories, deep connection, and common success. Its business focus means most people stay cordial and respectful, thereby naturally moderating the content and discussion.”
Annie Everill, digital marketing executive, Imaginaire: ‘Instagram keeps incorporating new features’
“Instagram is popular with a wider variety of age groups. It’s simple to use, allows for creativity and is amazing for communication. As a business, promoting and advertising yourself through Instagram is not only going to get your name out there and attract new customers worldwide, but it also gives you an opportunity for branding, customer service, social commerce and business connections.
“Over the past few years, Instagram has stayed in tune with what its users want, incorporating features such as reels to meet the needs of short-form content, story highlights, live streams and Instagram shopping.”
Alex Carapiet, Head of Social at Seed: ‘If you are after youth, it is Snapchat’
“For brands seeking true innovation and untapped potential, Snapchat holds the key. Undervalued in the past, it has emerged as the ultimate choice for connecting with elusive youth audiences. Its ability to captivate through ephemeral content and Lenses AR sets it apart.
“Boasting an impressive 75% daily active user rate among 18- to 24-year-olds, Snapchat offers unparalleled access to the youth demographic.”
Ben Boyles, executive director and head of social & content, Exposure: ‘Discord is perfect for getting reliable feedback’
“My platform of choice in 2023 is one that combines the best aspects of a community with creators and AI: Discord. With over 154 million monthly active users, Discord users are often highly engaged. There’s no paid ads or passive scrolling here. Users are hyper-engaged on Discord’s servers, responding to messages and joining video or voice calls. This creates in-built communities receptive to authentic communications from brands.
“The key to Discord is authenticity. It gives brands the opportunity to engage with audiences directly, but the emphasis has to be on engaging rather than broadcasting. Giving groups access to exclusive content or discounts can be extremely rewarding, but the true value is in gathering direct and honest feedback from users who love the brand.”