Why Do Only Some Social Media Brands Inspire?

Relentlessly relevant brands find ways to drive connection – see how social media brands are succeeding and struggling.

Each year Prophet surveys thousands of U.S. consumers about brands that are most relevant in their lives. The 2023 Relentlessly Relevant Brands report shows the brand relevance of more than 250 brands using data from those familiar with them. Analyzing the results from different perspectives yields provocative findings. This year we decided to take a close look at seven of the major social media brands on the “makes me feel inspired” survey question. Many people are impacted by social media brands in some way on a daily basis. We also decided to dissect this angle in part because the pinnacle of a brand connection is to be inspiring. We found an interesting dichotomy. The brands either fell into a clear high or low inspiring grouping. 

Social Media Brands That Inspire 

The high group included YouTube and TikTok, which were in the top 8%, and Pinterest was in the top 1% in the sample of 257 brands. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and WhatsApp, in sharp contrast, were in the lowest 20%.   

Each brand has its own story, which is interesting and insightful. It is hard to generalize, but it seems true that the high group has coolness, momentum and a superior ability to gain engagement in competition with those in the low group. Let’s take a closer look. 

The inspiration level at Pinterest is amazing and worth exploring. Why? First, it is user personalized—content relevant to a person, for example, can be pinned to their own board. There are also niche communities so that ideas can be shared around common topics. Second, the experience is visual, easy to use and inspiring. The user gets to discover high-quality images and use a search tool to find others. Third, the experience is enriched by having e-commerce opportunities embedded. 

The characteristics of the other two high group members are of interest as well. TikTok has short-video content that satisfies people’s attention span and is entertaining, discoverable and sharable with the possibility that any one spot could go viral. It has a user-friendly interface with creative tools and effects to enhance and customize videos that attract top talent. YouTube is convenient, assessable, and has vast user-generated content all of which attracts content creators and audience members. It offers high-quality educational, novel, entertaining and provocative content which means every person will find something that appeals to them. The AI algorithm is advanced; you are served up content that you will like. 

Social Media Brands Lacking Inspiration 

The lower four brands are not judged in isolation. They can slip by simply being “not as good as” the big three. But individually they each have issues that are not easy to deal with. 

Facebook has been battling negative public perception with respect to privacy and misinformation, fake news, and generally harmful or inappropriate content. This has spread into the political realm and has been amplified by polarizing attitudes. For the younger audience, the appeal of alternatives is a factor. 

Twitter has a character limit that can be limiting next to alternatives and suggests a lack of content. It is associated with cyberbullying, trolling and frenetic overuse among the young. Twitter has also received critical media coverage for its acquisition by Elon Musk and his controversial views and his decision to sharply downsize the staff. 

Snapchat has an interface that is harder to use than competitors. It is aimed at younger users where TikTok has made inroads. While disappearing content has plusses, it can be inconvenient especially if it is the preferred social media vehicle for a person. Their story is interesting because Snapchat was a breakthrough brand at the time of launch (almost like a fad), but other social media brands have replicated their unique features making them easily replaceable and relevant among the core user base who now tend to prefer TikTok. 

Because WhatsApp was acquired by Meta, concerns about privacy, data sharing and the potential appearance of targeted advertising have become visible. It is dependent on an internet connection and requires a valid phone number, which some are uncomfortable giving up. Because of their end-to-end encryption, it can be hard to control false information. Finally, it can consume significant storage space on devices. However, even with these limitations, WhatsApp continues to be the most popular messaging app with more than 2 billion global users and may offer Meta an opportunity to reverse some of their negative in-market perceptions.  


Having a brand that inspires usually means that an exceptionally strong brand relationship has been established. Inspiration is associated with having momentum in the marketplace, an engaging offering that is unique, self-expressive benefits and an absence of negatives. Want to learn more about the most relevant brands in the U.S. Download the Relentlessly Relevant Brands report today.