Why do people use social media?

Why do people use social media?

The other day my Grandfather asked me if I would consider doing a blog post about using social media for social reasons. It got me thinking. Why DO people use social media?! 

While most of us understand that being on social media for our small business is a worthwhile marketing endeavor we don't always necessarily consider why our audience is on social media in the first place, which is ironic because that may be the most important thing to consider.

Social media comes down to a simple basic human desire: the need to connect with other humans, to be part of a group.

Social media came about at a time after the world had, in many ways, become one.  Technology and the Internet have made it so we can connect with anyone, anywhere, anytime.  We know more about each other than we ever did before.

When decades ago we might have only had the ability to have allegiance to one group that we physically had to walk down the street to the town hall for, we now have all these micro groups that we can be a part of from the comfort of our couch, all thanks to the Internet and social media.  The most specific interests or hobbies have groups online that we can be part of.

Now that everything has moved online, including businesses, consumers have hundreds and thousands of choices to search for on their computer while sitting right at home.

Therefore consumers want more accountability and more transparency when it comes to making a decision about their purchase.  Social media is a perfect platform for businesses to communicate this kind of information.

While the overarching theme of social media is to connect with one another and share information, it's also important to understand how people use each social platform more specifically.

Why people use social media broken down by platform:

Facebook- Facebook is the largest social platform. We use it to see what our network is doing in their day-to-day activities.

Facebook is where we share photos of our children, our accomplishments, our marriage, our engagement, etc. For better or worse, people who are on Facebook are there to see what their friends, or even people who they vaguely know are doing at all times.  Going on Facebook is often a mindless activity where we are just scrolling through our newsfeed before even realizing we are doing so.

Twitter- While many use Twitter to connect with their immediate social network, it's typically a place where we go for niche content that interests us. For example, I follow news publications, fellow marketers- from all over the world most of whom I've never met, and other relevant marketing users.

Pinterest- Pinterest is where we go to be inspired and get ideas, be it for style, for cooking, for design or for words of wisdom for day-to-day life. Some of the most popular pins are those of style, of home decorating ideas, of quotes and so on.

Google+- Honestly, I think most people are still trying to figure out how to use Google+. I see a lot of businesses jumping on Google+ due to the inevitable tie it will have for SEO if engagement levels increase.

How do consumers use Google+? I think they are still trying to figure it out.  This may be the one platform where businesses beat consumers to utilizing the platform. That being said, the platform is largely used now for sharing and consuming information in niche industries, especially the tech industry.

LinkedIn- LinkedIn is typically where people go to look for jobs and/or connect with other business professionals. It's a place where people ask business questions, ask for endorsements and share content related to their business or industry. Groups greatly help

Instagram- Instagram, arguably about to be the most popular social media platform due to it's growth rates, is a place where we go to see fun images and videos from both Twitter and Facebook-like audiences: our friends AND public figures we find intriguing and entertaining.  Due to the way we process visual images, Instagram conveys the information we want instantaneously, a trend that has always fueled social media in the first place.

YouTube- Most people typically go to YouTube with a search query in mind. Someone told them to watch a specific video that made them laugh or was entertaining.  It's where we want snippets of entertainment be it from amateurs or from last night's late night talk show or music videos from our favorite artist.

The takeaway here is that social media does not lend itself to traditional ways of marketing, of shouting messages at your consumers.  Sure you can do that on social media, there are no rules against it, but it certainly isn't going to help your small business at all. You need to look at WHY and HOW your audience is using each social platform.

Why do people use social media? Whenever you get stuck in questioning what to post or how to use social media for your small business, come back to this question.

Why do YOU use social media? Post your reasons in the comments below!

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