Although primary platforms like Facebook and Instagram account for the lion’s share of social traffic to site, brands are diversifying their reach and testing the waters with emerging platforms. Platforms are also acknowledging this demand for white space opportunities on social with both mature and nascent networks evolving their ad offerings. For instance, TikTok now offers several ad formats to brands outside of sponsored hashtags, including in-feed video ads and branded lenses.
As a guide to the various platforms in which brands can invest in, Gartner categorizes social platforms based on their platform engagement (i.e., the level of user activity) and brand engagement (i.e., the level of consumer reception to brands on a platform). Platforms fall under four quadrants: Interact, Connect, Learn and Accomplish.
Core social networks with high platform engagement and brand engagement (Interact)—including Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter—provide a greater likelihood of connecting with consumers by continually iterating on commerce capabilities. Although Learn platforms have a lower relative number of advertising opportunities than other networks, brands recognize the momentum on these platforms and capitalize on the audiences emerging networks draw in. While TikTok’s advertising and commerce capabilities are still nascent, brands like Ralph Lauren, Kroger and Chipotle have found innovative ways to engage TikTok’s Gen Z-dominant crowd.
For brands to deploy effective strategies on platforms where user activity is high but exposure to brands is limited (Connect), brands must be cognizant of what consumers comprise a platform’s audience. Nike, for instance, has partnered with Twitch—a streaming platform with a large “sneakerhead” following—for several shoe launches since as early as 2015. Lastly, Accomplish platforms present white space opportunities, despite having the lowest degree of both platform and brand engagement. For instance, brands can leverage LinkedIn influencers given the large followings they have built through differentiated content.