Twitter is the chattering bird of the social media menagerie. Short bursts of information, a constant stream of messages and (for some) a fair amount of feather-brained antics.
Which animals should represent these 4 other social networks, and how best can brands and marketers put them to work?
1. Facebook is an Elephant
Just like a digital watering hole, the Facebook stream is the place to head when you want to drink in what's been going on with acquaintances, friends and family.
As many people have learned the hard way, Facebook photos never really go away. And the network's recent data application developments, particularly Graph Search, prove that it has both a long memory and ample use for user data.
Large and Long-Lived
With its origins in a 'hot or not'-style face comparison site back in 2003, Facebook has been around longer than many of the other networks. Despite the challengers, it continues to dominate, with well over 1 billion users.
The key is a long-term approach - brands should earn the right to appear in our newsfeed by sharing entertaining and sociable content over time.
2. Pinterest is a Peacock
Yes, it's all about the looks with Pinterest. The strongly visual virtual pinboards provide a creative outlet for enthusiasts of travel, food, clothes, arts, crafts.. you name it.
The rise of Pinterest has been rapid and impressive. Since its launch, Pinterest hit 10 million monthly US visitors mark faster than any other site ever had. And the great news for marketers is that the network's users are not averse to overt branding or even pricing. Pins with a price tag get 36% more likes.
Research shows that after finding a product on Pinterest, 69% of Pinners either purchased it there and then or decided to purchase in the future.
Companies with a strong visual product should display their offering, along with pricing information. Those selling services should identify pictorial messages - see how a bank can do it.
3. LinkedIn is an Eagle
Alert and aware
LinkedIn's primary function is to connect professionals. This means successful users of the network are always on the lookout for potential opportunities to (delicately) pounce on, be they for employment, recruitment, collaboration or business deals.
We've all come across those people whose LinkedIn profile photo is, shall we say, somewhat unprofessional. But the tone and calibre of content shared on LinkedIn should be intelligent, and useful to others. The high-profile LinkedIn influencers programme typifies this approach.
Develop your business as a thought leader and industry influencer by sharing insights and knowledge, while also using Linkedin for lead generation.
4. Google+ is a Dark Horse
Remember the excitement and anticipation? Two summers ago, everyone was begging for an invitation to the Next Big Thing - or so we thought. The 'sleeping giant' still has yet to make a big societal impact in the way other social networks have. Facebook has made the Oxford dictionary, Twitter has been blamed for revolutions, but Google+?
500 million accounts put Google+ at number two in the social media size stakes. However, we have to bear in mind the fact that many of these are automatically-created accounts by virtue of Gmail, YouTube or another Google service. Only 135 million account holders are believed to be active.
As Google continues to interconnect the average internet user's experience, it's not a big leap to guess that Google+ will wield power as a data farm. Already, our email, video viewing, search and geolocation information are being fed into the Google machine daily. Provided it can get users engaged, Google+ could have the potential to provide the most targeted advertising and sponsored content programmes yet seen.
Use Google authorship on all the content you produce, in order to improve its search rankings. Set up a business page and, if appropriate, get Google Places location verification, which will also help prospects to find you through search.
Be the King of the Jungle
All social media animals have great marketing potential, but just as you wouldn't hitch a peacock to a wagon, the important thing is to develop a nuanced strategy that exploits each platform for what it does best.
Some are mainly for branding and awareness, some for driving search rankings, and some social networks can even deliver lead generation.