Perhaps the single most important characteristic of the internet is its diversity and flexibility. People from around the world with different ways of looking at any number of topics, small or large, have been able to create an online space for themselves, reflecting who they are and, inevitably, finding others who think similarly.
And this diversity hasn’t only been expressed in the opinions and points of view on various platforms online – it has also been manifested in the platforms themselves. If you see the glass half full, someone else is sure to look at the same glass and see it half empty, and not in a bad way. It’s simply a matter of perspective. In the same way, one person might look at Facebook and see it as the best tool to connect with friends and businesses around the world while someone with a slightly different perspective might find more value in the anonymity of platforms like Reddit or Telegram, the more professional atmosphere of LinkedIn or the length limitations of Twitter.
If we were talking about a set of rules to remember here, this would be the first one: everyone thinks differently, and the diversity of online platforms are a direct reflection of those subtle differences. And rule number two? Online platforms influence the way we think.
Think of it as a circle. We can use the film industry as an example. Filmmakers produce works of art that mirror in many ways what we experience in real life. Films wouldn’t be relatable otherwise. In that way, films are influenced by who we are and how we see the world. But movies also make us see the world in different, sometimes unexpected ways, driving our own evolution. It’s a circle that can’t be stopped, and constantly expands our view of life – and discussion platforms online are very similar in that regard.
The third rule would be that the structure of certain platforms makes them better for certain topics than others. In other words, certain people may be attracted to a certain platform, but certain communities are likely to find a home for discussion based on their shared interest. Telegram is big in the crypto community in part for its notorious level of security. Discord and Twitch are great for gamers and Reddit is good for… well, just about everything.
And why is it important to understand all these nuanced differences between platforms? Because as a community manager, marketing strategist, or even a business owner, you need to know how to reach your audience where they are. You need to know where your product and brand fit in among these online communities. And what if you’re making something completely new that doesn’t fit in anywhere very comfortably? Well, you need to know where to reach the right people who might be attracted to your new type of community.
So don’t take the differences between online discussion platforms for granted. And unless you’ve got an endless budget, don’t try to force a presence everywhere at once. Target the platforms where your audience is and you’re guaranteed to get the best results.