Which Social Media Platform to Choose?

News, photos, stories, videos, tweets are just a shortlist of all the contents shared by people and organizations on different platforms online, every day, and at any time.

Social media became, in fact, an important tool to deliver information and communicate and interact with other people. But most of all, they represent a great opportunity for international organizations to showcase their work and achievements and connect with potential partners, donors, and beneficiaries. But which is the best platform to use?

Before answering this question, let us look at some data.

According to DataReportal, in January 2021, the number of people interacting and posting on social media amounts to 4,20 billion people, more than half of the total worldwide population.

Not only the number of active users is high and constantly increasing, but also the importance that online platforms are gaining in our lives. For example, 98.8% of active users access social media through their mobile phones. This means that people can easily connect in few seconds, maybe while waiting at the bus station, during lunchtime, or during any free time, just reaching out to pick up the mobile phone.

How many times did we find ourselves checking social media without even thinking about it?

To explore the extension of the phenomenon more in detail, the following image shows the top Social Platforms by the number of active users, updated to January 2021.

On the top of the list, we find Facebook, with 2,74 million active users, followed by YouTube, WhatsApp, and Instagram, the three of them oscillating between 1 and 2,3 million users.

Considering the list shown above, it could be logical to deduce that the best social media to deliver our message or share our content is the one with more active users. It would imply more visibility and, therefore, more engagement, right?

However, adopting a platform with a high number of active users does not assure that our content is well delivered if it is not coherent with who we are and with the message we are sending. So what we should consider, first, is what we want to communicate and who is our target.

Now that we understood the frequency and the extent to which people and organizations share their content, it is essential to learn how to communicate on social media.

It is vital to reflect an image coherent with their mission and vision and deliver a clear and compelling message when sharing content on social media, especially for organizations. To do so, we should choose which social media we want to use based on our objectives. Said differently, which platform to use is literally the last thing we should think about!

But how is this possible if we are developing a digital strategy that choosing which social media platform is not the first aspect to consider?

The first aspect that we must consider when thinking about social media is its nature, which brings us to the difference between network-based and content-based social media.

Network-based social media are platforms born and meant to connect with others and, as the name suggests, create a network of people all over the world. Examples of network-based social media are Facebook, LinkedIn, or WeChat.

On the other hand, content-based social media are supposed to be adopted from people whose objective is to share certain multimedia content, like photos, videos, or infographics. Examples of this category of social media are Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest. So, suppose we want to promote a debate about a specific topic, for example. In that case, Twitter is a better platform than Facebook.

Secondly, we also have to consider the purpose of each platform. Let’s consider as examples some of the social platforms with more active users. Facebook is meant to share our personal life, Instagram to deliver visual representations of a particular situation, YouTube is efficient to share videos, and so on.

Each type of content is effective in delivering a message when posted on the proper social media. For example, if we want to publish photos or a video about a project we implemented to present our activities and our organization to potential beneficiaries, partners, or donors, Instagram or YouTube are probably a better choice than Facebook.

Besides the objective of our digital action, it is also important to define to whom our communication is directed. Depending on the target we are trying to reach, we will choose a different social media. For instance, the choice of social media will probably be different should we want to reach a younger audience or a middle-aged audience. In this case, Instagram could be a better choice than LinkedIn.

Therefore, social media are different, and each one has its specific nature, purpose, and target. This concept is fundamental to developing our digital strategy. It starts defining I) the objective, as sharing information connected with our working environment, sharing news about our organization or our projects, or promote a dialogue about a particular topic, II) the target and III) the results that we want to accomplish. Defined all these aspects, we can select the social media that better fits with our goal.

Moreover, it is important to notice that the choice of social media is not exclusive. You can combine different content and social media. So, planning with a Social Media Content Calendar is better to manage your social media plan.

Independently from the social media you choose, developing an effective digital strategy is recommended to balance the communication according to the Rule of Thirds. It means balancing the social content among sharing news and tips, promoting your activities, products, and projects, and interacting with your audience. Thanks to these, you will be able to keep your audience engaged and interested in what you share.

This blog contribution was made by Carolina Bianchini.

Carolina graduated in Economics and Finance and specialized in Development Economics and International Cooperation at the University of Rome Tor Vergata.

She has experience as a project designer in international organizations for sustainable development, and as a project manager in the field of social economy for the creation of cooperative enterprises in vulnerable territories.

She is an activist for human rights and environmental sustainability in fashion industries in developing countries.

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