Social Media: A Market Brief

A few key companies in the Social Media Landscape

The following companies are only a small representation of the amount of social media campanies in existence. These in particular were chosen for their relativeness to the audience, and their overall market-share in the US, and around the globe. Two key points are examined on each company: How the service is set apart from it's competition, and how the service compares in the market overall.

This list is by no means comprehensive, as the market is constantly evolving and changing as new technologies emerge.

The companies are:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • SnapChat
  • Instagram


Facebook was launched in February 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg while he was attending Harvard University. Initially, Facebook was restricted to Harvard students. Eventually as the service became more popular its use was made available to anyone over the age of 18. What started as a college project with limited scope, now Facebook is by far the most widely used Social Network in the United States, and perhaps the world.

What sets Facebook apart from its competition?

  • Facebook's use goes well beyond just students and young people. For example, Arlington County, Virginia, uses Facebook to update it's citizens on current traffic conditions.
  • Facebook has been speculated to have played a huge role in the election of Barack Obama in 2008. It's wide reach and use by young voters was key in advertising campaigns for the election. This made young more voters more relevant than ever before.
  • Facebook controls news content that is users see to a certain extent. News content that shows up on a feed is influenced by "likes" and other factors. This can lead to a news bias in which you only see news that agrees with your viewpoint.

How does Facebook stack up in the market?

As of April 2016, there were approximately 1.2 Billion Facebook users. This is the most of any of the sites examined here. Facebook is immensely profitable because of it's large user base, and in 2015 estimated that each users generates $5.32 for the company per year. This may seem like a small amount, but when compared the number of users, this is immense.


Twitter was launched in 2006, the same time that Facebook began allowing more users to access their service. Twitter immediately set itself apart from Facebook by offering a new type of social media, a unique and accessable userbase compared to Facebook, and furthered ideas of what really matters in the social media business world.

What sets Twitter apart from its competition?

  • Twitter was a pioneer of micro-blogging. A type of social media in which small strings of words are used, and a small, limited user profile is created. This type of social media is easily used, easily accessed, and fast.
  • Twitter had many celebrities using the service in its early days. This led to a huge increase in the amount of young people using the service. What really set Twitter apart here was that celebrities could create a user profile, and their fans could see their posts without too much of a commitment from the celebrity, essentially relieving some privacy concerns that Facebook followers may have access to too much of a person's personal information. In addition, the ability for a young fan to read thoughts coming from a favorite celebrity of theirs immediately from the celebrity, not filtered through television or radio, was completely unique
  • Twitter was a pioneer of the way social media is used, and what is truly important to the user. Twitter proved, through its use of limited messaging to 140 characters, that it is the content rather than the platform that truly matters.

How does Twitter stack up in the market?

As of April 2016, Twitter has approximately 277 million users.


SnapChat, compared to the other forms of social media we are examining, is relatively new. SnapChat was founded in 2011 by Evan Speigel as a senior class project. Now, the app has become so popular that it actually turned down an offer to buy the entire company by Facebook for $3 Billion.

What sets SnapChat apart from its competition?

  • SnapChat is unique that its content is typically shared amongst a small group of friends, instead of a wide social network.
  • SnapChat has stated that they want to sell ads completely on their own and keep all of the resulting revenue.
  • SnapChat is even being used by young people to establish and maintain trust in small groups.
  • SnapChat offers a unique platform to advertisers in that they can pay for GeoFilters to be set to show brand images in "snaps" based on the users vicinity to a certain locale.

How does SnapChat stack up in the market?

SnapChat currently has 150 million daily users. Even though this is smaller than some other companies examined here, its unique platform cannot be understated.


Instagram was founded in 2010 by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger with an initial goal of "[...]not just be a photo-sharing app, but to be the way you share your life when you're on the go". With just four employees at the beginning, they quickly gained ground and became one of the most popular social media services.

What sets Instagram apart from its competition?

  • Instagram is an exclusive photo and video sharing service, no other content is provided through the use of Instagram
  • Instagram offers a unique advertising space. Advertisers can access sophisticated features such as photo slideshows of their products or services that appear directly in a user's feed, as well as links to sites outside of Instagram being accessible right from your mobile device.
  • A user's "real life" social circle and their Instagram circle are typically composed of the same users. However, Instagram is unique in that users regularly welcome strangers as followers with open arms. This is because contact from a stranger on this platform can often be seen as an indication that the profile and overall Instagram page of the person being requested is attractive to the user base as a whole.
  • 80 Percent of Instagram's userbase is outside of the United States


The references used in writing the above can be found here.