When we think of social media, the platforms that usually come to mind first are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn - the big players in the industry. But there are in fact a handful of other platforms that digital marketers use to grow their business and connect with their audience. This is where we come in and introduce you to them.
But before we dive in, it is important to understand the types of social media first and know the advantages they give. Below, you will find what we consider the top social networking sites available online. We've broken them down into 5 categories.
1. Social Networks
What is a social networking site? It is basically an online platform that allows people, businesses, and brands to connect and interact with one another through its website. It is also where you can share and acquire tons of information with other users who share common interests and experiences.
How can social networking sites benefit your business?
- Brand visibility
- Lead generation
- Customer service
- Market research
These are just some of the advantages of having your business registered on popular social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn.
With 2 billion monthly active users that log on the website daily, the social media giant is undoubtedly the most popular one from the lot. If you have a small business, you simply cannot afford to skip and build your social media presence elsewhere.
Facebook is also one of the most effective social media marketing tools because of its advertising reach. Advertising on Facebook makes it easier for businesses to find the right people, capture their attention and get results.
With their audience selection tool, you can easily know if you are targeting the right audience for your business using what you know about your customers. You can choose based on their demographics, location, interests, and behaviors.
Next is LinkedIn, an online network specifically designed for the business community. With over 500 million users, LinkedIn can deliver powerful results for your business. It is where you can make powerful connections in your industry to advance your career or business.
LinkedIn not only provides individuals with great opportunities to network with others and search for jobs, but for businesses to grow brand recognition, interact with like-minded individuals, join groups to share industry knowledge, and more. LinkedIn Company Pages (such as the Wells Fargo example) can help with demonstrating to prospective employees the overall culture of your company, as well:
2. Bookmarking Sites
Building and maintaining a social media presence can be tough especially if you are not aware of marketing tools like bookmarking platforms. How exactly can a bookmarking site benefit your business?
- It helps in driving brand awareness.
- It boosts organic traffic to your website.
- Your business receives more customer engagement.
- Your content gets indexed more quickly and can go viral.
Pinterest and Stumbleupon are two of the best when it comes to social bookmarking services. Let us talk about them more in detail:
If we are to discuss Pinterest by numbers, they now have 175 million monthly active users from around the world as of April 2017. A lot of businesses and brands must have seen the growth in impressions and click-throughs when they teamed up with the social bookmarking giant. It opened more opportunities for them as they reached more people through their platform. Get all the help you need to get started with Pinterest for business by going to the Help Center.
StumbleUpon allows users to share content with others within their network. They use the tool to find recommended web pages based on their personal preferences. Since the goal is to find relevant content, the additional audience that you get in StumbleUpon is more targeted since it matches their personal preferences.
3. Review And Discussion Networks
Consumers are very smart nowadays. They are quite resourceful, too. They are good at validating their purchase decisions with the help of review and discussion networks – these are social media sites where you can find customer reviews and information about a certain brand, product or business.
Customer opinions have always had the potential to influence other people's purchasing decisions. In fact, 90% of consumers think that online reviews are more important than information given by a salesperson and only 13% of them will consider buying from a business that has a 1 or 2-star rating. Hence, it’s important to have your customers leave positive reviews on these websites as they bring in more potential clients while negative reviews reduce it.
Online reviews may seem difficult to control especially if you are new to the online business world and handling several social media profiles. It's good to have an intelligent automation system that can automate simple tasks for you if you don't want your pages to be left unattended.
Foursquare helps people find the best places to eat, drink or shop in any city in the world. Consumers can rate businesses based on their experience with them by leaving brief reviews to let others know what they like or hate about them.
Foursquare is also good for business owners, because not only they can listen to the feedback of their customers and see what areas they need to improve on better, but they also offer enterprise and media solutions for them. As a business owner, you can measure campaign results, identify and target audiences, build engaging app experiences and monitor changes in foot traffic as well as competitor brands.
4. Media Sharing Networks
Media sharing networks focus on photos and videos generated by users. Since we currently live in a digital world where marketing is dominated by visual content, it's only right to concentrate on networks like Instagram and YouTube where you have the highest chance to engage with your audience and build your social media presence.
Here are general visual content statistics to prove this point:
- "When people absorb information, they are likely to remember only 10% of that information. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information." (Source)
- In a 2016 HubSpot survey, it was revealed that 43% of consumers wanted to see more video content in 2016. (Source)
Instagram is one of the social media giants based entirely on visual content and it's a platform where people share their best photos and upload short videos.
Instagram has doubled its user base and with such a large audience, they have the scale to appeal to top brands. It has become the ultimate social network for businesses and influencers that generate income through the network.
YouTube is an online video hosting service that lets users upload their videos. Businesses use the platform to promote their products, monitor feedback and build brand awareness. They also use it to look for potential influencers that can do the marketing for them.
5. Publishing/Blogging Networks
Last but not the least, social blogging networks. These are internet sites that give people access to tools in publishing content online. They usually contain a series of posts about topics that pique the interest of the authors.
Blogs offer an inexpensive way for your business to gain visibility and interact with your followers. It also helps in keeping your social media presence active by providing a steady stream of content that draws visitors in. Medium is a good example of an interactive social publishing platform.
Medium heavily relies on user-generated content. It's also the best social network for readers and writers because they showcase the stories that matter most to them.
Businesses mainly use Medium to establish their brand as an expert in their industry, while others use the network to get more ideas and inspiration by subscribing to content focused on topics of interest. Since Medium rewards readability, they tell their writers if their content has real value for their target market or audience. This is particularly useful for businesses producing articles. It really shows that they do put an emphasis on the content shared on their platform.