Guide to the Top 5 Social Media Platforms

The social media landscape can be overwhelming. With so many options available to businesses it's easy to wonder where you'll find the time to manage 1, let alone 10. However, by understanding how each platform works and which audience each platform caters to, it becomes a little easier to make evidence and fact-based decisions about which ones to invest time and energy into and which ones you may be able to pass on.

In this post, I'll take a look at the top 5 social media platforms for businesses and what each means for your business. By the end of this ultimate guide to the top 5 social media platforms you'll feel like a seasoned veteran on the topic.

Guide to the Top 5 Social Media Platforms

Need a guide to social media platforms for your business? Drive Research is here to help with a breakdown of the top 5 options for your organization to use.


lf you had to pick one social media platform to check out, I would recommend Facebook. With nearly 2 billion active users each month, many will say Facebook is their favorite platform and for good reason. Facebook users create a profile and use it as a means to stay in touch with friends, family, and colleagues, as well as favorite companies, TV shows, celebrities, personalities, and artists. For most, it's their ideal way to stay informed with people and organizations they care about.

The content you'll find on Facebook is a bit of a hodgepodge of text, videos, photos, and GIFs. Rest assured that there is something for everyone, whether you’re searching for an awesome recipe for your next family gathering, highlights from last night’s game, or the drop of a new song by your favorite artist. Facebook offers the ability to use hashtags, which identify specific topics, however they are used infrequently compared to other platforms such as Twitter.

What does this mean for business?

Used strategically, organizations can create a page (instead of a traditional profile that users create) to connect with stakeholders as well as generate new leads. These types of pages allow organizations to gain insight on who they are reaching on Facebook, so be sure to check out the insights tab on your account. Facebook also offers the ability for pages to utilize sponsored content, which can come in the form of a post, sidebar ad, or notification. Facebook has tons of options for paid content, so review the types of posts that are available and see which spark creativity and a high return for your small business.


With nearly 320 million active users each month, Twitter is one of my favorite platforms. It’s perfect for sharing smaller tidbits of information. Users on Twitter create a profile and are likely following friends and family, as well as thought leaders, celebrities, personalities, artists, and favorite organizations (such as magazines, movies, news outlets, etc.). Similar to Facebook, there is something for everyone on Twitter and it’s easy to get lost in all of the content.

On Twitter, you’ll find text, video, photo, and GIF content called tweets. The characters in tweets are limited to 144 so use them wisely. This limited allotment of text is also known as micro-blogging. While frustrating to some, especially those who like to on pile information, the point of the limitation is to make your message short and sweet for users. One important feature on Twitter are hashtags, which are used to identify and participate in trending content. Although trends change often on Twitter, several trends like #MondayMotivation, are recurring.

What does this mean for business?

Organizations can easily create a business profile on Twitter and share content. For instance here is our Twitter profile page for our market research company in Syracuse, NY. Similar to Facebook, organizations connect with users on Twitter to generate interest, awareness, and engagement. When crafting content, keep in mind that it’s supposed to be short. Instead of adding pictures with added text to get your message across, figure out a way to keep content clear and concise and add a link for users to find more information. Twitter also provides options for organizations to pay for ads in the form of promoted tweets, accounts, and trends.

No matter what the platform, if users and customer spend time on it, your business or organization needs to have a presence. Build awareness, a following, and encourage engagement.


LinkedIn has more than 450 million members, and is particularly useful to professionals that love to network, share ideas, and job hunt. Unlike other networks, LinkedIn is kept professional. Users typically share career-related content such as industry news, industry trends, organization news, local business news, etc. LinkedIn users are unlikely to connect with people they haven’t personally met, but also have the ability to follow thought leaders and organizations.

Since LinkedIn is a professional social networking platform, this social media platform is a bit different than the others on this list. It’s important to note that users should not use LinkedIn like they do other networks, however, that’s not to say you will occasionally find content on LinkedIn that seems out of place.

While on LinkedIn, check out the groups. Search for professional networks in your area and networks of professionals in your industry. Joining groups is a great way to stay updated with the latest trends in the industry and to check out what other professionals like yourself or in your area are doing. Lastly, members are able to use hashtags, but they’re infrequently used compared to other social media networks.

What does this mean for business?

For Business-to-Business (B2B), LinkedIn is an ideal way to communicate, however all types of organizations can benefit from creating a LinkedIn business page. Think of your page as another way to engage stakeholders and spread awareness of your organization. Similar to Facebook and Twitter, organizations can sponsor content (i.e. posts), ads, emails, as well as job postings.


Instagram has over 600 million active monthly users sharing, liking, and commenting on photos and short videos. Similar to Facebook and Twitter, Instagram users follow with family, friends, celebrities, interesting profiles, organizations of interest, etc. Known as the photo platform, Instagram offers an opportunity to share short videos and/or stories, which are a series of photos and videos created by the user that are shown for a limited time. Like Twitter, hashtags are commonly used on Instagram to identify specific topics.

What does this mean for business?

Organizations can create a business page and connect with followers and users. If the page is set up as a business account, Instagram will also provide follower insights, similar to Facebook. With Instagram, users have high expectations for content, so the key is to share high quality photos and videos. Lastly, similarly to the prior networks, organizations are able to sponsor content.


YouTube has over two billion users. Most YouTube users visit the site to watch various types of content such as music videos, "do it yourself" (DIY) instructions, funny videos, makeup tutorials, movie clips, etc. Unlike other sites, most users do not to create a profile and connect with family and friends. Users are more likely to subscribe to a specific video creator’s page. Oftentimes, users visit YouTube for specific content, unlike the other platforms where users visit the site to scroll through their newsfeed.

What does this mean for business?

Organizations on YouTube create a profile and share video content. Typically, organizations try to keep videos short in order to keep viewers engaged. Since video content is harder to generate, organizations are more likely to create content more sparingly. Advertising on YouTube commonly comes in the form of short non-skippable ads before the user can watch their intended content. A nice advertising benefit of YouTube is businesses only pay for videos which are watched in full. If users skip your video 15 or 25 seconds in and do not watch the full 30 seconds, your business does not pay.

Beyond marketing, social media has been an excellent resource for market research firms to access respondents to both qualitative and quantitative projects.

Social media and market research

Market research companies like Drive Research use social media outlets to spread awareness of online surveys, focus groups, in-depth interviews (IDIs), mystery shopping, and events where they are collecting feedback. Platforms like Facebook allow researchers to sponsor content to specific types of people. For example, surveys targeted to 18 to 45-year-old females within 50 miles of Syracuse, NY. Since social media makes reaching highly targeted audiences easy, it’s a cost-effective resource to use for recruiting, which clients love. I suspect social media will continue to be a valuable tool for market research companies well into the future.

Contact Drive Research

Drive Research is a market research company in Syracuse, NY. Interested in a market research project? Have questions about your upcoming market research study? Contact us at [email protected] or call us at 315-303-2040.

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