If you want to improve your social media marketing strategy, you need to know about the different types of social media content and how or where you share that content.

Should you focus on photos? Videos? Blogs? What about forums? And, once you have your content, how do you want to roll it out? You could post on community review sites or live-stream it to the masses. Understanding these different types of social media will help you develop a better content strategy and know where to focus your time and energy.

To help you out, we’ve put together a list of 14 types of social media every marketer needs to know. From social networking to video sharing and social messaging, there’s something for everyone (and every business).

Types of social media

1. Social networking
2. Photo and image sharing
3. Video sharing
4. Audio sharing
5. Live streaming
6. Social messaging
7. Disappearing content apps
8. Social shopping networks
9. Interactive social media apps
10. Discussion forums
11. Microblogging platforms
12. Community blogging sites
13. Social review sites
14. Social curation and bookmarking sites

1. Social networking sites

image of facebook founder

Overview: Social networking sites allow people to connect with each other through a shared online space. Users can like, share, comment on posts and follow other users and businesses.

For brands, social media networking sites offer an opportunity to build awareness, create a community of customers and followers and drive traffic to websites. By creating informative and engaging content, brands can cultivate relationships with customers and followers that lead to conversions.

Examples: Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and Snapchat

How brands can use social networking sites:

  • Post, share and respond to audience content
  • Directly connect with others. Whether as friends or fans, an engaged social following signals clout for marketers and brands alike
  • Form communities and discuss relevant news within them

2. Photo and image sharing sites

Shoes on Instagram

Overview: Studies show that visual content on social media receives more engagement than written content. Visual assets have also become a top priority for modern brands, with nearly 49% of marketers saying that visuals are key to their strategy.

Platforms like Instagram, which has more than 1 billion monthly active users, have made it easier than ever before to curate and share photos and images. Brands looking to implement this type of social media marketing should focus on high-quality, creative visuals that tell a story.

Examples: Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest and Imgur

How brands can use photo and image sharing sites:

  • Post high-quality, creative images that illustrate your brand values
  • Curate and promote user-generated content via branded hashtags
  • Engage with customers and followers in real time

3. Video sharing sites

image tiktok video content

Overview: Half of all social media users say they prefer video to any other kind of content. Much like image-based social sites, video hubs like YouTube, TikTok and Vimeo are attracting visitors in droves via visual content.

Why is video so popular? Well, video content requires less effort for viewers to absorb. There’s no reading or no scrolling, just watching. Not to mention, videos are optimal for educating your audience. How-to’s and tutorials are the cornerstones of social video content.

Examples: YouTube, TikTok and Vimeo

How brands can use video sharing sites:

  • Use video to demonstrate how your product or service works
  • Share customer testimonials and success stories
  • Create helpful how-to guides and tutorials related to your industry
  • Highlight company culture with behind-the-scenes footage

4. Audio sharing sites

Overview: Audio sharing sites are a type of social media that became popular during the COVID-19 pandemic. Stuck at home with Zoom fatigue, people were looking for an easier way to consume content, and audio-only proved to be the solution.

Social apps like Clubhouse offer users a unique way to connect with others and share ideas. This type of social media is still in its early days but shows a lot of promise for the future.

Examples: Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Facebook Live Audio Rooms

How brands can use audio sharing sites:

  • Share behind-the-scenes content, like interviews with employees and company leaders
  • Host live events and Q&A events with customers or experts in your industry
  • Take listeners on a journey by sharing audio stories or vignettes

5. Live streaming apps

image of live streaming app twitch

Overview: Live streaming apps allow users to share real-time video with their followers. This content is often unedited and authentic, giving viewers a special behind-the-scenes glimpse into the life of the person streaming.

The live streaming market is booming, with more than 482 billion hours watched in 2020 alone. Stream everything from concerts to eSports, product launches and beyond.

Examples: YouTube Live, Facebook Live, Twitch and UStream

How brands can use live streaming apps:

  • Give viewers a candid look at your brand
  • Build anticipation for upcoming products or events with live teasers
  • Increase sales by offering exclusive deals and discounts to viewers tuning in live

6. Social messaging apps

image of social messaging communication via facebook

Overview: Social messaging apps are a type of social media that allows users to communicate in real time. One of the most popular messaging apps—WhatsApp— has more than 200 billion monthly users!

While they aren’t traditionally thought of as a marketing tool, messaging apps like WhatsApp can be a powerful way to reach and engage with your target audience. Brands can use them to provide customer service, product recommendations and even to make sales.

Examples: Facebook Messenger, Twitter DMs, Google Business Messenger, WhatsApp and WeChat

How brands can use social messaging apps:

  • Use chatbots to answer customer questions
  • Send out automated coupon codes or discount offers
  • Create a private group for loyal customers and followers
  • Use Smart Inbox to monitor all incoming messages and conversations in one place
image of social messaging via sprout social

7. Disappearing content apps

image of a snapchat story

Overview: Disappearing content, also known as ephemeral content, refers to content that only exists for a short period of time before it expires or is no longer available. Snapchat popularized this format, but now other platforms like Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp offer similar features.

Disappearing content is a great way to add excitement and urgency to your marketing campaigns. It can also help you connect with younger audiences who tend to flock to this type of social media. Instagram Stories alone have more than 500 million daily active users.

Examples: Snapchat, Instagram Stories and Facebook Stories

How brands can use disappearing content apps:

  • Promote time-sensitive sales and discounts
  • Encourage your audience to share their own disappearing content
  • Create behind-the-scenes content to give your audience a peek into your brand

8. Social shopping networks

image of a pinterest post

Overview: Social shopping has become increasingly popular in recent years. Most social media platforms now allow users to browse and purchase products without ever leaving their app.

This a convenient way for consumers to shop, and it provides brands with a unique opportunity to sell their products directly to their target audience. Considering that 60% of people say they find new products on Instagram, and 75% of Pinterest users say they are “always shopping” in the app, social shopping holds a lot of value for businesses.

Examples: Facebook for Business, Shopify x TikTok, Instagram Shop and Pinterest Shoppable Pins

How brands can use social shopping networks :

  • Create a Facebook shop and link it to your Facebook and Instagram pages
  • Use Pinterest Shoppable Pins to tag products in your posts and allow users to purchase them without leaving the app
  • Add a TikTok Shop to your profile and sell products directly to your fans
  • Tag products in Instagram posts and Stories and link to your website or other platforms like Shopify

9. Interactive social media apps

image of interactive social media application tiktok

Overview: These types of social media apps focus on user interaction and engagement. They encourage users to communicate, usually through gamification, competitions or voting.

For example, Snapchat’s “Lenses” feature lets users add augmented-reality filters to their photos and videos. And, TikTok has “Duets” that allow users to record themselves singing or dancing alongside another user’s video.

Examples: Instagram Stories, Snapchat, TikTok, Tumblr and Weibo

How brands can use interactive social media apps:

  • Create a branded Snapchat Lens or Filter that your audience can play with
  • Encourage users to Duet your TikTok video to win a prize
  • Stay active in the comment section of Weibo Stories

10. Discussion forums

image of discussion forum reddit

Overview: Discussion forums are online platforms where people can ask questions, give answers and start discussions on a variety of topics. For example, Reddit has communities (called subreddits) for just about every topic imaginable, from jokes to cryptocurrency.

Brands can visit forums to engage in social listening—learning what people are saying about them and getting feedback from customers and potential customers.

Examples: Reddit, Quora and Stack Overflow

How brands can use discussion forums:

  • Crowdsource product feedback and ideas in relevant forum threads
  • Provide customer support in forums where your people are discussing your brand
  • Participate in relevant subreddits and answer questions related to your industry

11. Microblogging platforms

image of a social media post on twitter

Overview: Microblogging is a type of social media marketing that allows users to post short updates or messages. Twitter is the most famous example of microblogging, allowing users to tweet in 140 characters or less.

While microblogging was once dominated by Twitter, platforms like LinkedIn and Tumblr have also become popular microblogging sites.

Examples: Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and LinkedIn

How brands can use microblogging platforms:

  • Use hashtags to join conversations about your industry or product
  • Share news, articles and other content relevant to your followers
  • Offer customer support or answer questions in microblogs or comments

12. Community blogging sites

image of community blogging site medium

Overview: Community blogging sites are platforms where people can come together to write articles, share ideas and collaborate on projects. Most community blogging sites focus on a specific niche or topic, which makes them a great resource for finding new content ideas and connecting with other like-minded individuals. They also tend to have very engaged users, which can be beneficial for promoting your brand or product.

Examples: Medium, GrowthHackers, BlogEngage and DoSplash

How brands can use community blogging sites:

  • Create or curate content around a specific topic
  • Build relationships with other bloggers in your niche
  • Generate traffic back to your own blog

13. Social review sites

Overview: According to Statista, 36% of consumers use online reviews to inform their purchase decisions. Many of them also trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

Curating, collecting and engaging with your online reviews is essential to success in many industries today. Plus, did you know you can post directly to your Google Business Profile using Sprout Social?

Examples: Google Business Profile, Amazon, Yelp and Facebook

How brands can use social review sites:

  • Monitor and respond to reviews in a timely manner
  • Encourage happy customers to leave positive reviews
  • Use negative reviews as an opportunity to improve your business

14. Social curation and bookmarking sites

image of several bookmarked items

Overview: Social bookmarking lets you save web pages so you can revisit them later. These sites also allow users to add annotations, share bookmarks with others and discover new content.

Use this type of social media to curate content for your team or customers. It’s also a great place to create a content bucket than you can repurpose across your social media channels.

Examples: Pocket (pictured above), Digg, Pinterest and Mix

How brands can use social curation and bookmarking sites:

  • Create a content bucket that your team can use on social
  • Collecting customer research and insights
  • Find relevant content to share with your audience and save it for later

Which type of social media is right for your business?

The types of social media sites you use for your business should be based on your goals. If you want to increase brand awareness, consider using a mix of social networking and content curation sites. If you’re looking to build relationships with customers, focus on social networking sites. And if you want to generate leads or sales, consider using social bookmarking or e-commerce sites.

If you’re using multiple types of social media marketing in your strategy, consider using a social media management platform like Sprout Social. With Sprout, you can share content across major social channels, engage with your audience and track the performance of your social media campaigns from one location. Start your free trial today!