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  • April 22, 2024

Social media has changed a lot over the past 10 years, but TikTok really brought with it a new change that we haven’t seen before. And in so many ways TikTok has really redefined platform reach. And this new generation of social media is going to have major impact on how we should think about marketing communications and brand building. To help you understand this shift, let me first introduce you to Closed Social Networks and Open Social Networks.

So the previous generation of social media, that’s the Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Traditionally, I would consider them to be Closed Social Networks. And what that means is that you follow people and your news feed shows you content from the people that you’ve chosen to follow. For a long time Facebook was all about adding your friends and then you see updates from your friends and it’s called Closed because you’re only able to reach your own followers with your content. For a personal use case, you’re going on Facebook to stay connected with just your friends not necessarily to meet new people.

But for a business, our primary goal of being on social media is to reach people that are not currently following our brand. And what these big social media companies figured out is businesses are willing to pay for that reach. And that built the foundation for what we now know, it’s the Ad model. You don’t have a lot of followers and so you pay for sponsored posts and advertising, so that you can reach people that are not currently following your brand. And this is how TikTok changed the game. TikTok is an Open Social Network. From the very first time that you launch the app, you’ll notice that you’ll see content from people that you don’t currently follow. The new generation of social networks are Open Social Networks. They are for the purpose of content discovery.

The user experience is built from the ground up to help youl discover content from creators that you don’t currently follow. And this is important for business, because that’s what we’ve been paying for for years. Companies like Facebook and Twitter, forced businesses to pay for reach outside of their follower base. Whereas platforms like TikTok give that away freely, it’s an Open Social Network. Let’s say, you’re running a small brand, not that many followers. You make a post on Facebook, you’re going to get Little to no reach in your post. Now if you post it on an Open Social Network like TikTok, assuming it’s good engaging content, you are way more likely to reach more people outside of your follower base. And that’s the difference between the old generation Close Social Networks and the new generation Open Social Networks. Now the complicated thing to note here is that every one of those platforms are evolving. Following the success of TikTok’s model, the Open Social Network model, platforms like Facebook and Instagram have introduced their own version of Open Social Networks.

And that is a difference between an Instagram post versus an Instagram Reel. Instagram Reels work exactly like TikTok. When you publish an Instagram post, it’s distributed to your followers. When you publish an Instagram Reel, it’s published to all users who consume reels. And it comes down to their algorithms to help you find people that would resonate with your content. YouTube has their own similar version called YouTube shorts, and I consider LinkedIn to be a hybrid between the two. Your LinkedIn feed consists of updates from your first-degree connections. But will also often include content from your second and third degree connections, as long as someone from your first degree connection is interacting with it.

So, in a nutshell, if you’re building a new brand or new community, you’re better off using something like Instagram Reels or TikTok to be able to reach you audience, but if you have an established follower base, and lots of people already pay attention to your brand, then Closed Social Networks are probably all you need, like the classic Facebook, Instagram post and Twitter.

But at the end of the day, it’s classic marketing 101. It’s all about testing, and if you get into the habit of producing content on a daily basis, you’ll be able to test your content across all of these different formats and platforms. It’s all about finding the thing that works for your brand and your community. So let me know what you think about this classification of Closed Social Networks versus Open Social Networks. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and I’ll see you in the next video.