Jonathan Greene

Social Media Marketing: Which type of content is appropriate for different platforms?

April 2nd, 2013

When I was a kid fresh out of high school, I was a little socially awkward. I didn’t exactly understand the various types of social gatherings to which I was invited to, and I consequentially always showed up dressed incorrectly, saying the wrong things and bearing the wrong gifts. We all know the guy who shows up to the baby shower with a bottle of tequila, right?

Unfortunately, a similar situation exists in marketing circles when advertisers crash the proverbial wedding of social media platforms wearing board shorts and flip flops. That metaphor may be a little dense, so follow me…

For all of the analysis currently existing about how to best leverage social networks for marketing success, we actually understand comparatively little about how the various platforms work. Frequently, despite best efforts to the contrary, marketers end up looking like the odd man out simply by taking the wrong platform-specific tones with their campaigns.

Companies simply can’t expect to behave the same at different social functions and receive an overwhelmingly good response. Since we’re on the analogy train today, I’ll try to keep the theme going.


Facebook is a pub crawl

People spend most of their Facebook time interacting with their “friends.” In truth, most of the “friends” with whom we interact with on Facebook are merely acquaintances.

Nevertheless, the environment yields similarities to the dynamics of a pub crawl. Surrounded by acquaintances and, yes, a few old friends, we dive into topics of various levels of seriousness ranging from the patently absurd, to the politically charged before wandering aimlessly from topic to topic for a spell.

We do so without expecting to be inundated with marketing messaging, much the same as we would expect to not be rudely interrupted by an insurance salesman while we were in the middle of telling our best frat house story from college at the local bar.

In order to market effectively on Facebook, you first have to win a seat at the table, or be interesting enough to be the topic of our slightly buzzed conversation.


Twitter is a speed date

You’ve got 140 characters to impress me, so you’d better make it work for you.

I might spend a few extra minutes after the last round of speed dating with a particularly interesting person (company, product, etc.), but if I do, it will be because you have done or said something particularly compelling in your allotted time slot.  Equally as fun as interviewing potential dates, I can wander sneakily around the room to see what other people are saying about me …

“That guy has impeccable taste in clothing,” says one. “He’s stunningly good looking,” says another.

Brands can do the same with Twitter, getting a better idea of how the market is responding to their product offerings. In order to market on Twitter, you have to learn how to answer the question of what you’re into right now, and answer it in a compelling enough fashion for me to care when you’re done talking.


LinkedIn is an after-work happy hour with the office staff

If you meet me at the Trendy Olive after 5 p.m., you’ll probably hear me talking to my boss about my qualifications and why I deserve a raise or a promotion.  If that’s not happening, I might be talking to the manager of a competing firm at the next table over about possibly getting a new job.

I’m not overly concerned with the “social” aspects of this event, unless it stands to benefit me in the professional arena. I may not even like the people with whom I am communicating, but it’s sort of a necessary evil for me.

If you want to market your product to me on LinkedIn, it needs to be done within the context of me talking about myself and trying to sound like an expert in the process. If your marketing detracts from my awesomeness, I might be a lot less likely to pay attention to you.

Well, what say you?  Are you loving the metaphor game?  If so, I’d love to hear your metaphor for the Google+ platform, or even Tumblr.  What can we learn from thinking about social media in more simplistic terms?

Photo credit: linkedmediagrp


Related Resources:

Social Media Marketing: Social metrics from “likes” to ROI

MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2013: Social media is email with fresh paint

Social Media Metrics: Three touchy-feely numbers to help you benchmark and improve

Social Media Marketing: Michaels Stores increases Pinterest board followers by 86% with contest

Marketing Research Chart: Using social media as a list growth tactic

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  1. April 8th, 2013 at 13:01 | #1

    That’s exactly how I have described the three, but struggle to get active with the others just yet.

    Thanks for the light and fun read.

  2. April 8th, 2013 at 21:02 | #2

    Great way to think of them. Thanks! I’m using these analogies this week!

  3. April 9th, 2013 at 09:54 | #3

    Google Plus is like dressing like an orc with a big club and having fun with friends and friends’ friends in the woods in the afternoons or weekends.

    It could be my favorite car association inviting me to their newest car release or the local grocery hosting a wine tasting gathering…

    G+ is where the REAL enthusiasts meet – so if you want to talk to me, you better present some content which is relevant – after all, it’s Google! Relevance is king…

  4. April 10th, 2013 at 09:48 | #4

    Thanks for making me think more about this, Jonathan.

    Far too often I see companies using social media aggregates to publish posts to all three (or more) social media outlets. Marketers need to understand what you’ve stated. Each of these outlets requires a different voice.

    Until they understand that, they shouldn’t expect to build up their followers and engagement numbers.

  5. April 10th, 2013 at 13:04 | #5

    I’m not great with metaphors but the other important ones for #RushSoccer are:

    Instagram: PAY ATTENTION TO ME
    Pinterest: New Year’s Resolutions planning and implementation (most engaging content is motivational, self-help, etc.)

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