Social Media Dictionary: Breakdown of ALL Social Media Platforms 

With the number of social media platforms available, are you aware of each? Or, at least, the most important ones? Whether you know all the platforms or not, you can use this resource with explanations of how each platform functions. Consider this a social media dictionary of the top social media networks. 

You can also find marketing guides for many of these top platforms which you can use to help build your social media marketing strategy and scale your business. 

Complete List of The Top Social Media Platforms

In this dictionary, our goal is to compile a list of the top social media platforms. However, if I were to list each one, I would be here all day with the hundreds of social media apps available. 

Some platforms that have already phased out of the social media world, like Fotolog or Vine, are not included in this list. While many of these platforms are well-known, it’s interesting to see which networks continue to tower the ranks and those newer networks that have made a big splash. 

So, let’s start this social media dictionary with the mother of all social media, Facebook. 

Facebook 

What is Facebook? Mark Zuckerberg’s social media network launched in 2004 with a simple wall where users could post text updates, follow their friends, and have conversations on the app. 

Almost nothing remains from that first Facebook wall. The social network has evolved immensely in terms of features and content types. You can now share text, photos, videos, live broadcasts, and Reels, and create ad campaigns directly from the platform. 

It also grew in authority after acquiring Instagram and WhatsApp under the Meta sphere. 

Instagram 

In 2010, when Facebook’s reign began, a new social media app was born. Its main attraction was an emphasis on sharing photos and adding filter effects to images. 

This is how Instagram started. A platform where you upload an image, edit it with an array of filter options and share it to your “feed” for other users to interact with your post by adding likes and comments. 

Instagram’s evolution over the past 14 years has turned into more than a social network. Non-professionals use this to stay connected to friends and followers, professionals use it to build their personal brand, and even physical and online stores use Instagram to sell their products. 

Instagram features have only increased in popularity and innovation thanks to its different content options. Starting as a photo-sharing app, this has now transformed into a multimedia multiplatform from videos, Stories, lives, Reels, collaborative posts, and Broadcast Channels, just to name a few. 

Twitter – X 

Until two years ago, Twitter’s platform remained extremely similar to its 1.0 product, as a place to share news, stories, and recommendations rather than a collection of photos and videos to look back on. 

With this being said, it was the Twitter community that has perpetuated this storytelling rather than the social network itself. However, they have not creased to expand their features and approaches to reach other audiences. 

In the first version, Twitter was notorious for 140-character limit posts and not allowing the option to edit a tweet after it had been published. More than 15 years after its creation, it has tried to implement popular features from other platforms. The network went for stories, which did not take off. Audio rooms have also been adopted, similar to ClubHouse, however, perhaps not with the success they expected. 

In 2017, one of Twitter’s feature changes was extremely well-received, when the network increased the character limit to 280 characters. 

That was until Elon Musk arrived, buying out Twitter and changing the network completely to become the letter X, including the image, name, and logo. Since then, the platform has undergone many changes including the most drastic, X Premium, a subscription service that offers exclusive benefits to paying users, such as account verification and up to a 10,000 character limit for posts, among other Twitter features.

Despite the controversy of these changes, Twitterers continue to create content for a select audience in which they can debate, share information, and chat while keeping their distance from the constant highlight reels that take place on Instagram and TikTok. What will Twitter’s next new feature be? 

YouTube 

YouTube came to our computers as a video playback platform, a website to binge-watch videos until falling asleep. Few imagined that from the simple video page, one of the largest social networks and search engines would emerge. 

How did YouTube reach its current success? 

  • Easy-to-use platform: with a mobile phone or simple camera and the internet, you can upload videos to your channel.
  • The option to share videos across other social networks to make content viral-prone. 
  • The rise of content creators, known as YouTubers, and the expansion of video themes. 
  • Being a complete and varied catalog, where you can find any video content for free. 

With that being said, YouTube has become an entertainment platform for millions of users.

And how is the platform progressing? YouTube continues to incorporate new features to grow as a social network. From introducing Shorts to the option of sharing text and image posts with your audience, and the ability to link your e-commerce store in the shop tab on your channel, these features have only expanded YouTube’s capabilities and attractions. 

TikTok 

Just when we thought we knew all the answers, it turns out all the questions were changed. TikTok entered our lives to confirm that social media platforms didn’t have everything. 

While other social networks oriented their target audience to accommodate professional profiles where you can scale your brand, product, or service, TikTok came to something like, “Hey, don’t forget that we came here to have a good time.” 

Short videos, dances, trending music, and filters of all themes, ended up becoming a breath of fresh air for content creators. This pushed TikTok while other social media platforms were in for a wake-up call realizing that if you slow down, others will pass you. 

What is the reason for TikTok’s success? A revolutionary content format that has prioritized new feature releases, such as increasing video lengths (up to 10 minutes), and the “push” during the 2020 pandemic where it went from being an almost unknown app to the most downloaded in the world. 

We don’t know where TikTok’s ceiling is, however, its impact on marketing and businesses is undeniable. Even the most serious lawyers can dance to attract new clients. 

LinkedIn 

If you were to define LinkedIn, the picture would be a professional in a suit and tie looking to create a network of corporate contacts that will help them grow professionally and personally. 

With a simple feed, LinkedIn has become a place where recommendations and our resumes are more important than our photos. A space in which to share our professional achievements with a network of contacts, the wider the better. This platform also favors quality over quantity where each contact can have a major impact on your work life. 

LinkedIn is a social network that allows you to connect with other professionals in your space, those outside of your niche, future candidates, recruiters, and peers in your space who come together to share industry knowledge and help support other’s professional journeys. Isn’t that what a social network is all about? 

Pinterest 

If you’ve searched something on Google and have come across a loose pin, you’ve landed on Pinterest, a purely multimedia social network where creators upload their designs in image or video format. 

From the union of pin+interest the network was born, with an atypical social media design. Rather than viewing all the current content one at a time, on a Pinterest feed, you can see more than one photo or video at a time. 

The organization and operations of Pinterest are different from any other social media network. Content is arranged in order of interest, where you can create themed “boards” to save content to. 

However, the network wants to reach a global audience and has incorporated some of the same interactions and features as other social networks, such as its version of stories, Idea Pins. 

Have you created your first pin? Watch this video on how to use Pinterest for your business or brand. 

Twitch 

If YouTube is the video entertainment social network, Twitch is the streaming platform. 

While the platform was initially oriented towards video game streamers in 2011, Twitch decided to open its gates to a variety of topics that allowed anyone in the streaming space to share their content. 

Video gamers are still the main target of these streams, where professional gamers, streamers, and amateur users can share their games live. However, you can now find other creators cooking live, recording a podcast, or doing a live broadcast during a walk in the IRL category. 

Twitch is especially appealing in its simplicity. With just a webcam and internet connection you can become a content creator on Twitch. It is also easy to create a community, connect with your audience via the chat space, or interact with other streams with the host and raid options. 

Telegram 

Although we refer to this as a social network, in reality, Telegram is closer to WhatsApp. Telegram is an instant messaging app where everything fits, and when we say everything, we mean everything. 

From text, and multimedia content, to any file format you want to share (ZIP, mp3, Doc, etc.). In one big cloud, you can sync your files across different devices. 

So why do we consider this a social network? Well, because it allows users to create groups of up to 200,000 users in which you can communicate by text, multimedia files (photos, videos, or GIFs), answer messages, mention users with hashtags, and even assign administrators. 

As you can imagine, this is another option for establishing your community as a brand or content creator. Use this to share exclusive content or as a place to initiate a powerful conversation. 

So, if you haven’t tried Telegram yet, why not try out this space to expand your community?

Snapchat 

If you thought social networking and instant messaging seem to overlap more often than not… Snapchat comes into the picture. 

What is Snapchat, really? You could say that, with all its features, it is a meeting ground for users looking to use both of these features: 

  • It is an instant messaging app
  • It is a social network where you can share content with others 

Snapchat is mainly characterized by how content is shared. Before someone sends a photo or video, they can select how long the receiver can few the content, and once the receiver has opened the content, it disappears completely. 

That is, you snap a photo or video, edit it, and then send it to a select group or user for them to view before it disappears. 

This is similar to Instagram’s feature that allows you to share a photo via Stories that the recipient of your message can only view once. 

At the moment, due to its relaxed nature and features, it is not oriented towards businesses or personal brands. However, it does offer the option of sharing messages temporarily with other users or a circle of friends. Do you think Snapchat can become a social media network for businesses? 

BeReal 

Remember when you thought (as did we), “social media platforms have nothing else to invent”? This is probably the most presumptuous statement, in a world where social media platforms change weekly, sometimes daily. 

BeReal is a French social network that launched in 2020. Perhaps overshadowed by the surge of TikTok, it wasn’t until 2022 that its popularity grew like wildfire. 

Its main characteristic lies precisely in its name: being real. Going back to the origins of social media, BeReal reminds us of a time when there were no filters or editing possibilities, and it was up to us to be as authentic as possible. 

When you register for this network, you receive a notification from the app at any given time of the day to upload a photo of what you are doing at that moment, ideally within 2 minutes of the notification. Also, you can only upload one BeReal per day and after 24 hours it’s deleted. 

These rules limit the use of BeReal compared to other social networks because if you don’t post your update, you can’t view any of your friend’s content. But maybe this is the reason for its success, the fact that you can only upload one photo a day and “post” when the application tells you to. 

Lemon8 

Social networks continue to grow and throw us all for a surprise. This is what happened with Lemon8, a platform that meshes the ideas of Pinterest and Instagram. Despite its launch in 2020, it has taken about three years to make its mark. 

Here’s the story behind it. Lemon8 became one of the most downloaded apps due to an intense debate in the United States over the existence of TikTok. Faced with possible leaks and data espionage, the United States conducted a deep investigation of TikTok. 

The response? The creator of TikTok, the Asian company ByteDance, decided to promote its new app, Lemon8. 

For the moment this is only possible in select countries. As you can see in the screenshot below, the network is similar to those mentioned above and includes basic features such as uploading content, interacting with users, and adding friends. 

How will this network evolve? 

Threads 

Amid criticism and revolts on Twitter, Meta and Mark Zuckerberg launched a new social network to attract all those users and content creators dissatisfied with Elon Musk and his decisions. 

Meta decided to go with the name “Threads” for its brand-new social network which is an almost identical copy of Twitter: sharing posts, liking and replying to content, and creating “Twitter threads” which here are also called, by no surprise, a “thread”. 

A social network that from day one was shrouded in controversy. Despite its enormous success in the first few weeks, once it surpassed 100 million registrations, its engagement seemed to decline drastically. There is now a hot topic that continues to shake Threads: the number of active users is far from the number of registered users.

What’s next for Threads?

I hope this social media dictionary has given you an overview of the leading platforms right now.

Anniston Ward Anniston Ward , 05 March 2024

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