No matter which social media platforms you use, you’ve surely noticed that each one begins by asking you to create a personal profile for yourself. It’s their way of helping you introduce yourself to the network and find people who have similar interests to yours.
But every social channel has a personality all its own, too—Facebook and LinkedIn are completely different “characters.” Thinking about what type of category each one fits into is a great way for marketers to strategize how best to use them. Twitter has a different utility to it than Instagram. And a different personality.
To help you get your creative juices flowing, the Butler/Till team recently went through a fun exercise in which we mapped out a personality profile for each of today’s most popular platforms.
It’s a cool way to help decide which content makes the most sense for which platform—and in each of the three categories we chose (a Disney character, a celebrity, and a dog breed), we’ve included the implications for marketers.
If social platforms were Disney characters
Facebook would be Mickey Mouse
Why? Because it was the first big character of its kind and it’s familiar to everyone. And, like Mickey Mouse, some people have outgrown Facebook. It’s also been heavily monetized, just like the little guy with the big ears. The implications for marketers: This is a platform where you can play it safe, making a quick, easy connection point to your audience.
LinkedIn would be Mary Poppins
She’s straight-laced, but she’s not all business. There’s some fun to be had here. Like the famous nanny, LinkedIn is serious but has a human side. It’s organized and resourceful, and it connects people to a remarkable, inventive range of helpful resources. The implications for marketers? This is a platform you have to work at. Be present. Show up. And you’ll build useful connections when your presence on LinkedIn is helpful first.
Instagram would be Princess Merida
This upstart of the online social universe embodies authenticity, spontaneity, edginess, and fearlessness—just like the sassy protagonist from “Brave.” The implications for marketers considering Instagram? Remember that images here are personal, intimate, and fleeting. Make sure your brand is true to itself in the freshest way possible. Be unconventional with what you share. Put yourself out there. You’ll drive meaningful, instant connections with those who value the same thing.
Twitter would be Tinkerbell
The tiny, fluttering fairy from Never Never Land is in constant motion—and is widely recognized. She knows what’s happening everywhere all the time, and she’s capable of stirring up trouble. Her energy can be exciting but also overwhelming. For marketers, the implication is that you have to be prepared to manage a channel that never sleeps. It requires constant monitoring. And, because of the constant motion of people’s Twitter feeds, you have to add a little flavor and continuous content to keep your audience engaged. Twitter is a place where you can make a flourish—just like the little glitter-wielding Tinkerbell herself.
Pinterest would be the Fairy Godmother from “Cinderella”
This is the feel-good platform of the decade, where there’s an endless stream of cupcake recipes, dream bathrooms, fashion statements, and words of encouragement. So yeah, a Fairy Godmother certainly comes to mind. Like the one from “Cinderella,” Pinterest is a channel that reinforces people’s belief in themselves. It inspires them. Supports their fantasies. Helps them solve problems. The implication for marketers: When you use Pinterest, be an inspiration. Post great ideas people can actually put to good use. Be visually rich. Be a resource as a problem-solver. Put good things into the universe. You get the idea.
If social platforms were celebrities
Facebook would be Julia Roberts
Long celebrated as America’s sweetheart, Roberts is one of the most well-liked stars of her generation. There’s an assumption that she has the Midas touch in her career, even though it’s not always true. And her star may be fading somewhat with today’s generation of kids. The implication for marketers: Facebook still has broad appeal and is well regarded, but don’t assume that every new venture it introduces is going to be a smash hit.
LinkedIn would be Anderson Cooper
The ultra-cool, ultra-serious anchor is a new breed of journalist that has kept his serious side as he’s built a network of followers around the world, but also won people’s confidence with his human side. And he’s not afraid to take a firm position on events of the day. He’s so recognized, millions know who he is, even if they don’t watch his network. He’s a connector. The implications for marketers: If you get involved in LinkedIn, use it as a place to build a serious following—establish yourself as an authority in your field. And do more than share information. Interpret it for your followers. Offer an informed, well-supported opinion.
Instagram would be Jennifer Lawrence
Like the image-heavy channel, she’s an up-and-coming star who’s more popular with millennials—and not fully understood just yet. Still, she’s established enough, she’s authentic, and she just might be the next generation’s Julia Roberts (a.k.a. Facebook!). So, if you’re a marketer considering Instagram, remember this: This is a place to be genuine. The Instagram audience can smell sincerity right through their smartphone screens. Fill your feed with eye-popping, intriguing images that say something honest and endearing about your brand.
Twitter would be Ellen
The beloved daytime chatterbox is well-known, well-rounded, and extraordinarily current on a wide range of subjects. She offers a great way to join the conversation and attract a large audience quickly—just like Twitter. For marketers, that makes Twitter a channel where you want to continuously monitor the subjects flying through your feed. Find ways to join relevant conversations with your unique perspective, the way some brands used Twitter to react in real-time during major recent events like the Super Bowl. Keep your chatter short, sweet, and yes, use hashtags!
Pinterest would be Lauren Conrad
If Martha Stewart were 30 years younger, this would be her prime domain. A medium filled with lifestyle brands, idealized visuals, mouthwatering recipes, and idyllic scenery, Pinterest is a place where aesthetic is everything. And the kicker: A fair portion of its content comes in the form of ideas people can use and share. So, if you’re a marketer considering Pinterest, this is your lifestyle guru platform. Use it to help people lead better lives. To imagine greater beauty surrounding them. To be more creative and inventive in their day-to-day routine.
If social platforms were dog breeds
Okay, so we’re dog lovers around here. Which means no comparison exercise would be complete without a nod to our favorite furry companions.
Facebook would be a Golden Retriever: Responsive, alert, smiling at you everywhere you turn. Comfortable.
LinkedIn would be a German Shepherd: Highly intelligent, commanding respect, hard-working, and steady.
Instagram would be a Greyhound: Fast-moving, energetic, friendly, and closely watched.
Twitter would be a Jack Russell Terrier: Yippy, darting, sometimes frenetic, and living in the moment.
Pinterest would be a Collie: Never a bad hair day, adding glamour and romanticism to daily life, and predisposed to herding and gathering—of people and ideas.
The bottom line
Everybody loves a distinctive, relatable personality. And just like characters, no two brands are alike. No matter which channels you decide are right for you, remember to stay true to your own brand identity and voice. Be genuine and memorable. And above all, be original. Cookie-cutter content won’t help you stand out from the cast of characters.