Why read this? : We take another look at social media channels, this time focusing on YouTube, Pinterest, Reddit and Tumblr. Learn why you might need these channels, and how to use them to connect with customers. Read this for more ideas on how to grow your brand via social.
It’s important to keep promises, right? Even if it’s been a while since you made that promise.
We recently re-read our article on social media’s impact, which looked at the Big 4 social media channels – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. We talked about how to use these social media channels to grow your brand. And what these channels mean for your customers. But by the end of that article, we’d run out of “social” energy. So, we promised to write about other social media channels like YouTube, Pinterest, Reddit and Tumblr at a later date. That was back in May 2020.
Today is finally that later date.
What’s 8 months between social media friends anyway?
The 6 reasons consumers go online
That original article was based on the TNS digital life study, which showed people go online for :-
- social connection.
- communicate with others.
- shop online.
- do something productive.
Social media is clearly good for social connections. But, social media channels also meet some of these other needs.
Our basic argument was the more ways you can use social media channels to meet these customer needs, the more you’ll grow your brand.
Better or different than other social media channels
- Facebook has the biggest reach, for example. It’s where you connect with friends and family. For brands, it’s a great place to share posts which inform or entertain.
- Instagram is great for brands with lots of visual content. That’s why so many fashion brands use it.
- Twitter is great for topical and random content.
- And LinkedIn? Well, it’s good for business-to-business (B2B) activity. Even if it’s like the reliable, but boring uncle of the social media family.
Of course, there are downsides to each of these social media channels too :-
- The over-saturation and lack of quality control on advertising and political messages on Facebook.
- Then, there’s the shallowness of much of Instagram’s content.
- The random chaos and trolling of Twitter.
- And of course, the stuffiness and lack of personality on LinkedIn.
But these aren’t the only social media options you have. Let’s check out a few others.
So, not what Scottish people say to each other when they’re being idiots, but the world’s biggest video-sharing platform obviously.
YouTube claims to have over 2 billion users worldwide. That’s a pretty big online party to join.
You generally see 2 types of YouTube users.
First, there are the passive observers. These are the ones who only really watch other people’s videos. The voyeurs. And let’s face it, that’s most people.
Then there are the active contributors. They post content for others to look at. The exhibitionists. There are far fewer of them.
Most of your target audience on YouTube will be passive observers. So, you have to think about what their viewing experience is going to be.
As per our video content guide, video has lots of benefits for marketing and e-Commerce.
Drive awareness and consideration with video
Video content grabs your attention. Our brains respond differently to movement and sound than to static images and words.
Videos help build trust and drive awareness. Use video to demonstrate your product or service, and show the “real” people behind the brand.
Create video content to meet customer’s information or entertainment needs. Good, relevant content drives engagement.
The more engaged customers feel, the more likely they’ll consider and try your brand.
If your brand covers topics people don’t know much about or don’t use very often, YouTube videos can be a great way to show people “how to” do that topic.
You can learn “how to” do pretty much anything on YouTube. From baking cakes to car mechanics to writing blog posts. (!) In fact, pick any topic, search on “how” to do it, and the chances are you’ll end up watching a YouTube video.
In terms of meeting the need for social connection, then yes, it’s there via the comments section.
But, while some comments do end up turning into conversations between the viewers, most seem to be conversations between the creator and viewers.
At its best, YouTube makes it technically easy to use the site, and share video content. It’s why it’s so popular and widely used.
We remember the days when video content was technically challenging. Incompatible file formats and the dreaded “buffering” while your video loaded. YouTube has taken much of that pain away. And that’s a big plus for it as a platform.
It’s also interesting when you meet the commercial folks at Google (who own YouTube). They’re usually much more keen to talk about YouTube than search.
Unsurprisingly, that’s because they make more money selling YouTube advertising space, than they do from paid search.
From a marketing and e-Commerce point of view, YouTube opens up lots of digital marketing opportunities. It’s a way to both reach and engage customers, as long as you make video content that’s informative, entertaining, or both.
So much content
That said, it’s awash with content. So much so, that sometimes it feels overwhelming.
If it were an actual “party” in real life, YouTube would be a warehouse rave where they’ve let too many people in. It’s noisy. And, it’s hard to find your own space or stand out from the crowd.
At Three-Brains, we use it to publish videos which appear on our site. For example, when we wanted to show the link between design principles and the use of repetition.
And, we use it to create and run our own advertising, like this execution from last year.
Pinterest claims to have 322 million monthly users worldwide, so it’s clearly popular. That’s a lot of people you can put your brand in front of. Though, it’s only just over 10% of the 2.7 billion regular users Facebook has.
And yet, despite all the users, you have to say, it’s not one of those social media channels you hear a lot of “buzz” about.
When did you last hear anyone talking about Pinterest?
It has this air of unfashionableness and uncoolness about it. Ironic really, given there’s so much fashion– and cool-stuff-related content on it.
And yet saying that, we’re on it. Unfashionable and uncool as we are. And, we do get some use out of it.
Great for research, inspiration and infographics
At its best, it’s great for research and inspiration. You can pin content you see on websites to a board on your page. You get a collection of inspiring content around particular topics. So, we have pinboards on topics like advertising and writing, for example.
In particular, it seems to be the best place to find infographics. We see all sorts of infographics popping up on all sorts of topics.
In terms of the online needs it meets, it certainly has a good amount of information. And depending on your interests, you could also call it entertaining.
If your business has lots of content that’s visual (but not video), it’s a helpful channel to share that content. And it’s really, that sharing of content which makes Pinterest interesting for brands.
They make it easy to “pin” things on websites. And, to collate and share these with friends and colleagues.
The flaws of Pinterest
And yet, saying that it’s also got flaws, as social media channels go.
The first of which is the one-to-one social interaction you get on channels like Facebook and Instagram is less obvious and so, less common. There’s a comment button on pins. But you struggle to find many people using it.
Next, there’s also the overwhelming amount of content. Even, when you use the boards to organise your pins, it’s still a lot to take in.
It’s a cluttered space with many contributors. Like going into an art gallery and finding anyone and everyone has stuck their art on every available surface.
Sure, there’s good art in there. But, you need to sift through some real junk to find it.
And then, lastly, there’s the overall usability of the site. Particularly from a business point of view, it’s clunky to access the business account section. You can’t seem to do it directly. You need to access it through someone’s linked personal page.
And if you haven’t accessed it for a few weeks, it seems to be quite snooty about letting you back in. At least that was our experience, as we were preparing for this article. We ended up having to reset both our personal and business passwords, after a moment of horror where it looked like our account had disappeared. (it hadn’t)
It kind of felt like some virtual bouncer on the door of the site being a dick, because we hadn’t visited recently.
Pinterest likes to communicate with YOU
Plus, we have to say, Pinterest seems to like communicating with YOU. So many emails and updates, many of which seem random. Topics we’ve never looked at before.
Overall, Pinterest has its uses. It’s got mass appeal for anyone interested in specific subjects, particularly if they’re visual, like designs and infographics. If you don’t mind digging, you can find some great content.
For us though, Pinterest seems to work better as a “media” tool, than as a “social media” tool. If you look at how we define social in our digital media guide, it’s a two-way conversation. And Pinterest feels a bit more like reading the minutes of your hobby group or club.
Interesting. But really, a bit dry sometimes. And quite one way.
In contrast to Pinterest, Reddit is much more of a two-way conversation opportunity.
Although, you may not always like the responses you get when you decide to start a conversation there.
Reddit’s position is it’s the “front page of the Internet”, which implies it’s read more often than any other site.
There are over a million topics on the site, though only around 140,000 topics are considered active subreddits. If you can’t find a topic on Reddit, it’s probably not worth talking about.
The main upside of Reddit is the moderation, voting and karma system. This helps control the quality and tone of what people say, and how they interact with each other.
In simple terms, people who “shit-post” or are otherwise arseholes, don’t do well on Reddit. Whereas people who are helpful, informative or entertaining do better.
Be helpful, informative or entertaining
And in fact, that’s the lesson brands should take from Reddit. The more helpful, informative or entertaining you are, the more you thrive.
On Reddit, you feel part of a bigger community. There are at least some basic rules of decent behaviour. As opposed to some other social media channels, where you’re in a state of chaotic bedlam.
While not overwhelmed with advertising, there’s a noticeable amount, like on other social media channels.
But because the content is usually good quality, as a user you’re more prepared to put up with it. It feels less intrusive than say Facebook, where the advertising often overwhelms the actual content.
Now, to be fair, saying that, we can’t think of a single product we’ve bought as a result of an advert on Reddit. Yes, monday.com, we won’t be buying you despite your constant ads.
But, there are certainly author and book recommendations we’ve followed up on because of Reddit threads. And links to other helpful threads and social media channels, when there are specific problems we’ve needed to solve. Like this one where Facebook changed how to edit the About section on your business page.
A "human" place online
On the whole, Reddit is a surprisingly “human” place online.
You can connect with random people who share the same interest. All without the same feeling you have on Twitter, that at any moment, they may turn out to be a raving vengeful lunatic.
It’s a good place for brands who have an actual “human” way of working, as they can project that into what they do and say there.
But, beware. Because, if this “human” approach isn’t genuine, or is manufactured in some agency creative meeting, you can easily run into trouble. Because, the people on Reddit are good at spotting fakes, scammers and bullshitters.
And let’s be honest, marketing has more than its fair share of those.
This brings us tumbling into the last of the social media channels for this week, and that’s Tumblr. Tumblr positions itself as a micro-blogging and social networking site and claims to host over 475 million blogs.
It was owned by Yahoo but was recently bought by Automattic, the company that runs WordPress.
Some nice blogging overlaps there.
Quirky and awkward, not a bad thing
From a user point of view, Tumblr is a place where you can follow topics and interests like on most other social media channels.
But, the way these are covered has a much quirkier, and if we’re honest, awkward vibe. Not necessarily in a bad way. But noticeably different in tone and content from other social media channels.
There’s plenty of art, illustration and short-form gif-based video content. Lots of fairly political and thoughtfully written content on culture, social issues and the crazy world we live in.
But also, lots of cats. Lots of anime. And a ton of video game content. And though, they’ve removed much of the more “adult” content, there’s still some questionable content floating around the edges.
For brands, Tumblr feels like the wildcard in your deck of social media channels playing cards.
You don’t know what you’ll find there, or if it’ll be good or bad. The only thing you can guarantee is it’ll be different. And, actually sometimes in marketing and e-Commerce, different is what you need.
Conclusion - social media channels
Well, like most people’s experience on social media, there’s only so much we can take in one go. And we think these 4 social media channels are plenty to cover in one article.
Of course, there are others like Snapchat and TikTok, that we might look at in the future. No promises, though.