As of April 2023, over half of the world’s entire population is using a social media platform. That comes out to around 4.80 billion users – a mind-boggling number that is impossible to even wrap your head around.
To put that into perspective, that’s nearly 5 billion people getting their news, gossip, insights, and shopping advice from their computer or mobile device.
But that’s not all that people are doing on social media. They’re also communicating with one another via text messages, audio, and video. They’re forming groups to discuss topics of interest and share advice. They’re filming entertaining and informative content at home, at work, and even in their cars with their phones and uploading it for millions of other users to see.
The amount of content being shared between individuals, brands, marketers, influencers, and other groups of people via social media is unprecedented in human history. But that begs the question: Where is all this communication and marketing happening?
The answer is social media platforms. That means that as an influencer, marketer, or brand that wants to reach the right audience, you just need to join the right platforms and start connecting.
In this article, we’ll help you understand the types of social media platforms, the pros and cons of joining them, and 47 of the best social media platforms in use around the world based on their popularity. By the end, you’ll have the foundational information you need to pick the best and most popular platform to join for your marketing needs.
Types of Social Media Platforms
To know which social media platforms to join, it’s helpful to break them down into distinct types. Below are five of the main types of social media platforms you’ll come across.
- Video Sharing
- Photo Sharing
- Social Sharing
Pros and Cons of Using Social Media Platforms
As you can see from the five types of social media platforms, there is plenty of fertile ground where entrepreneurs, businesses, and marketers can insert themselves to connect with their target audience.
But as with all things, there are pros and cons of using social media platforms that you need to be aware of before you dive in.
It’s important to recognize the benefits as well as the potential downsides of marketing yourself or your business on social media. This way, you can develop a plan or hire a social media manager who will help you keep track of all the variables, like posting consistently and maintaining a good public image.
Popular Social Media Platforms by Category
Having learned the pros and cons of social media platforms, it’s time to look at the platforms themselves.
Let’s get into the most popular social media platforms according to each type we covered earlier in the article.
Messaging platforms are primarily targeted at users who want a free, secure way to send text-based messages to friends and family. But marketers and businesses also use them to send promotional material or converse directly with customers, clients, or colleagues.
Google Trends reveals interest for different messaging platforms:
Video-sharing platforms are designed for sending or sharing video files. Some of them even allow you to edit your footage within the app before you post it to your channel or timeline. Individuals and entities like brands use this type of social media to send private videos to one another or share videos with the public at large.
The length of videos varies from platform to platform. For example, you can post hours-long videos to YouTube, but only up to 10 minutes of footage at a time to TikTok.
Photo-sharing social media platforms are used to display and share photos. Many of these apps also allow private text-based messaging, but most of the posts and marketing is done with pictures.
Social Sharing Platforms
Social sharing platforms are outlets for people to create text-based posts updating their social status. These apps and websites are for creating networks of friends, family members, coworkers, and industry peers with whom you can share information both entertaining and informative (and, in some cases, dramatic like a reality TV show).
The last type of social media platform is called community. These are forum-like hubs of activity where users discuss, debate, advise, and seek help from online communities of likeminded individuals. It’s different from social sharing in that it typically doesn’t involve updating your individual social status, but rather gets you involved in conversations (and even arguments) reacting to news, questions, or trending topics.
Popular Social Media Platforms by Country
Not every country uses the same social media platforms. Here are the most popular ones categorized by country of origin.
Chinese Social Media Platforms
Russian Social Media Platforms
South Korean Social Media Platforms
United States Social Media Platforms
Indian Social Media Platforms
Other Popular Social Media Platforms
Here are some other popular social media sites worth exploring:
How to Select the Best Social Media Platform for Your Needs
With so many options, how do you select the best social networking site for your needs? To help you decide, consider these three factors.
Your Target Audience
Your target audience is the people you want to reach the most with your social media content. These are not just users; they are potential customers and followers. They are individuals who are interested in the type of content that you produce.
To that end, research which social media platforms your target audience prefers and what form of content they want to see.
For example, if your target audience is made up of 15-25-year-olds, you may consider getting a Snapchat account for your brand, as that age group makes up 48% of Snapchat’s user base. Or, if you sell a product and your customers want to see it in action, a video-based platform like YouTube or TikTok may be a better option.
Once you discover what your target audience wants to see and how they want to be reached, the right social media platform (or platforms) will click into place.
Your Global Location
Your location in the world will influence which platform you should build a social media presence on. For example, if you’re based in the United States, you probably want to appeal to a stateside audience. That means you should create accounts on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, which are all popular with Americans.
Your Content Creation Budget and Abilities
Your content creation budget and your personal schedule can also play a big part in which social media platform is best for your business.
Ask yourself: Do you have the time and money to film videos every day? Or can you only manage photos and text-based status updates? Can you hire a content creator or a social media manager?
Get a realistic picture of what type of content you’ll be able to produce for your social media account and how often. This way, you can choose the best platform that will accommodate your needs.
Once you find a social media platform that is a compromise of all the above factors, you’ll have found the best one for your brand.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can a person become an influencer on social media platforms?
A person can become an influencer or famous on social media platforms by producing great content consistently, and by buying engagement.
Is it possible to earn decent money from social media platforms?
Yes. Influential social media accounts can make money by monetizing their content and collaborating with brands and businesses on sponsored ads.
Which is the most popular social media platform?
Facebook is currently the most popular social media platform. It has 2.98 billion users across the globe.
Which social media platform is best for businesses?
Facebook is the best social media platform for businesses. It’s used by the most people of all the social networks in the world, which gives businesses the largest possible reach.
How are marketers aided by social media platforms?
Marketers can use social media platforms to reach large swaths of people and promote products, services, etc. using content that appeals directly to their target consumer.
With over half the world population using social media, there’s a major opportunity for influencers, marketers, and businesses to promote themselves and their goods and services. Among the 47 best social media platforms worldwide, find the one that works for your needs by factoring in your target audience, your global location, and your content creation budget and abilities.