Chapter 6: The Social Media Ecosystem

Every Network is an Island

When you decided to study social media, you must have defined a few objectives. You may be exploring the social marketing world to work as a social media marketer for a business or get familiar with the concepts so you can implement the learning on growing your own startup. Maybe you want to use social media for non-profit engagement or political activism. At this stage, many people may think “Which social media website is the best option for my organization?”

It’s a never-ending debate and you can waste your time in the argument. But the simplest answer to this debate is that every network is important (or it dies). As for the decision of choosing which platform will work best for you; it entirely depends on your goals, your target audience, and the nature of the content you need to produce.

Social websites were developed to serve different purposes. For instance, Facebook brought together people from different parts of the world, while LinkedIn facilitated online business networking, and Instagram enabled people of different age groups to capture important moments and share them with each other. So, before you reach the conclusion, it’s crucial to understand the benefits of each platform and then decide which website has the highest capability of meeting your business goals.

Who Lives There?

Social media attracts marketers due to its plethora of targeting options. Traditional marketing and communications mainly focuses on mass audiences, but with social media, you can efficiently decide the audience you intend to target with your campaigns. Let’s learn more about the audience on popular social media websites.


Facebook is populated mostly by adults of 25-34 years age group. The second largest group is 18-24 years, who make up 23.8% of Facebook’s population and only 4.8% of users fall into the senior age group. The biggest country present on the platform is India, while users from the US and Canada are only 10% of the total Facebook population. As for gender, males dominate the platform, with 56% of the total population. Also, 51% active users visit the website several times a day and 75% of Facebook users are at least college graduates.


With 500 million tweets sent every day (or do we now call them “exes”?), X/Twitter is one of the busiest social platforms. Talking about age groups, 25-34 year-olds make up 28.9% of total users, while 35-49 year-olds are 28.2% of total users. Lastly, the smallest age group on Twitter is 13-17 years with only 9.1% of share.

Eighty percent of users are affluent millennials from all around the world who use the website to get information. Most users come from the US, Japan, India, and Brazil respectively. As for businesses, $913.8 million was spent on ads in 2019, though this number has plummeted since Elon Musk bought the platform. Furthermore, 93% of Twitter users engage with brands by retweeting their posts or sharing their thoughts and experiences about brands of their choice.


On Instagram, the highest population is of 25-34 year-olds, who make up 33.1% of all users and the age group of 18-24 years is second with 29.6% share. Most of them come from the US, with India and Brazil holding second and third positions, respectively. Almost half of these users are college graduates and 42% earn over $75,000 per annum.

A slim majority of the billion or so users are females. These users spend around 28 minutes per day on Instagram. Most users follow at least a single brand on the app and 73% of teens in the US find Instagram the easiest way to reach and interact with a brand.


TikTok is a customer favorite app and stands second among the most popular free apps. Its users are present in 141 countries, with China, India, the United States, and Turkey being the countries where it is more frequently downloaded and used.

A majority of TikTok users are male (56%) and 41% users are aged 16-24 years; they typically spend at least 52 minutes every day on the app, watching videos related to entertainment, dance, pranks, fitness and other categories.

Ninety percent of TikTok or Douyin users access the app via smartphones and maintain a healthy engagement rate of 52%. In 2019, people spent $115.3 million on the app for in-app purchases, influencer marketing, and so on.

What Language Do They Speak?

Creating a profile on social websites is easy. What’s difficult is to spread your message and get people talking about the brand in a positive manner. However, this objective can be achieved by determining what type of content the audience prefers and creating posts accordingly.

Hashtags (#)

Hashtags were introduced by Chris Messina in an attempt to organize content on social media. Twitter platform first introduced this unique feature in 2007, but it was later adopted by Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, and LinkedIn due to its usability.

Long Form vs. Short Form Content

Internet users tend to have short attention spans. They easily get distracted and can ignore posts if they don’t find them interesting. This is why content communications and marketing in digital media focuses on captivating and concise content that can keep readers hooked till the last line.

If we need to keep the content short, how can we share important information or news with the target audience?

It’s common for social media communicators and marketers to get confused about the length of content. But you should remember that the content length depends on the interest of your audience as well as the platform where you intend to post it.

If you are planning to set up a company blog, it’s best to opt for long-form content. The purpose of blogging is to engage people about a relevant topic and offer more meaningful commentary. Blog posts can be 500-1,000 words, with 700-800 words being a bit of a sweet spot. Longer blog posts (2,000-2,500 words) can help boost SEO scores, though.

LinkedIn is also suitable for posting long-form content. You can write about your area of expertise and experiences to share knowledge with other professionals.

Other social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are suitable for short-term, short-form content.

Also, don’t forget that long form videos aren’t compatible with most social websites. Instagram supports videos of up to 15 seconds. So, if you are creating long form informative videos, it may be a good option to post it on YouTube and share a brief snippet on Twitter and other social websites. Your followers who find the topic interesting will visit your YouTube channel to watch the entire video.

Each platform specializes its content provisions slightly differently (or very differently). These are the most popular types of digital content:

  • Blogs or articles
  • eBooks
  • Images (still images, GIFs, 360° images)
  • Videos (recorded videos and live streaming)
  • Infographics
  • Testimonials
  • Contests
  • Polls
  • Podcasts
  • Webinars
  • How-to guides

While myriad social media websites are available these days, you can’t promote your brand on each and every website. By focusing your efforts on websites that are popular among your audience, you can drive results.

Why Do You Want One to Win Or Lose?

Myspace got the first-mover advantage and remained the leading social website for quite some time. However, when Facebook was introduced, it captured a huge market share in no time and left other social media websites struggling with their loss.

When an innovative company is launched with the right strategy, it has a good chance of eliminating the predecessor and becoming the market leader. In the past, we have seen many such examples. Netflix beat Blockbuster; digital camera companies killed Polaroid; Circuit City lost to Best Buy.

This is a common trend that old and established businesses lose to new market entrants. It is because many traditional stores prefer to stick with the strategies and actions they have been using for years and fear change or innovation.

This practice isn’t good for anyone; neither marketers nor consumers. If there is no market competition, consumers would suffer the most.

Higher competition eliminates the monopoly. The more firms in the market, the more efforts would be needed for a business to make its place in the crowded market. They are motivated to innovate and offer value to consumers to stand out. It keeps them on their toes and they constantly put in their best efforts to stay ahead and stay relevant. Similarly, they are also inclined to offer better quality goods and services at reasonable prices.

How Do We Benefit From Each Network?

Investing time and money in social media is no longer optional for professional communicators and business marketers. With your competition gaining customers and building a good reputation via social websites, you can’t afford to miss out on this invaluable opportunity.

For marketers, the first step should be to get a website where you can display products, testimonials, and other relevant information. After that, you can gain several benefits from social accounts. The same is pretty much true for non-marketing communications professionals, except that there’s no “product” to display (though one could have a lengthy conversation about the “products” offered by non-profit organizations, political parties, and governments, as examples).

Regardless of which platform you choose, you can raise awareness via social posts, as well as paid social media advertising. Your social posts should include a call to action that guides users about the next action. For instance, if you post a special discount for your social media followers, you ought to add the link to the online store where they can redeem it.

Customers tend to trust businesses that have a transparent system. Not only should you share detailed information about your business, but also share accurate pricing and terms and conditions. With this approach, you can earn their trust.

Many customers post reviews about their experiences with a brand. When a satisfied customer posts a positive comment, you should respond to them. However, it’s equally important to respond to negative comments. When you take action quickly to solve their problems, your popularity and sales are likely to elevate.

Also, be mindful of changing trends. Where you gave your attention last year will not be the same as where you give your attention next year. Social media professionals need to be trend spotters and experimenters; explore new social media apps as they are released and check statistics about which platforms are thriving and which are in decline.

Explore and Experiment

In social marketing and communications, there are no rules and standards. You can’t follow specific rules that guarantee specific outcomes. The best way to succeed in the social media world is to adopt the trial and error technique. You should come up with a plan to promote the brand and execute it on social channels of your choice. If it brings you the desired results, then it’s great, but there is a good chance that social media efforts won’t always prove effective.

Despite your efforts to boost awareness, gain customers, or generate leads, your social strategy won’t always work. This is why you need a contingency plan. If the first plan doesn’t get results, you should adjust it based on the performance metrics.

The good news is that there are several options available for communicators and marketers. If Facebook doesn’t work, turn to LinkedIn or Youtube for the next campaign. You should set clear objectives, choose the right platform that meets your criteria, and measure performance after the execution of the a plan for making your social media campaigns fruitful.

Competition Check

Competitors offer similar products or services to your client. In many cases, the first point of competition is for the audience’s attention; there’s a strong push to win that competition in the world of social media, as the first to grab their attention gets the first chance to gain their interest and secure their favourable action (which could range from buying a product to donating to a charity to voting for a political party or any other activity your client needs performed).

The competition for the hearts, minds, and wallets of audiences is now global, but it also has a way of being regionalized. Social media disproportionately engage with people who live in their geographic area and they are more likely to shop from a business that has a local presence (even global companies, such as Amazon, have a stronger local presence in some places than others).

Competing can be a major challenge. However, a proactive approach improves success.

Keeping an eye on competitors is critical to success. If you are unaware what others are doing, they may capture your audience’s attention and lure them away.

Competition isn’t always bad. When you aren’t alone, you feel the motivation to keep improving the quality of products and customer service. You also get to learn from experienced competitors who have been in the market for a long time.

Why Perform Competitor Analysis

Performing competitive analysis assists in identifying your competitors and learning about their business. It’s a time consuming process and many entrepreneurs don’t find it too important. However, a comprehensive analysis can help you in many ways.

Understand Audience Needs

Businesses often fall victim to market myopia. They focus on the internal expertise or strengths and only consider the firm’s perspective. As a result, they ignore changing market trends and fail to understand customer needs.

Competitive analysis is a great way to broaden horizons and explore customer’s perspectives. By analyzing the activities and strategies of competitors, you can obtain a fresh perspective and evolve processes with time to stay ahead of the competition.

Identify Potential Threats

A business should always be aware of potential threats and risks. You can perform SWOT analysis to determine threats facing the industry. But competitive analysis is also a must.

With this approach, you can stay updated with what your customers are doing. Furthermore, you can also monitor new market entrants and take the right measures to deal with challenges they create for your business.

Set Suitable Benchmarks

Every business sets certain standards or KPIs to evaluate the performance of different departments as well as the entire organization. Through competitor analysis, you can ensure that your benchmarks suit the current industry trends and make necessary improvements.



This chapter was adapted from Intro to Social Media by Cheryl Lawson, which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.


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Social Media & Reputation Management Copyright © 2023 by Sam Schechter is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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