The Types of Social Media

onine social mediaWhen many think of social media, Facebook or Twitter may come to mind. But did you know that there are hundreds, possibly thousands, of social media websites out there? And that these sites allow for different types of promotion? Don't worry; you don't have to be listed on all, or even most, to have an effective social media marketing campaign. But it's good to be familiar with the several types of social media and how they can be used to promote your business. In this second installment of Get Social!, we're going to identify and describe the major types of social media and their marketing capabilities.

Social Networking

The most prevalent type of social media, social networking sites allow users to create a personalized profile or page and connect with other users. With the ability to post updates, pictures, videos, blog entries, businesses can, essentially, create mini-websites in addition to their official websites. Here are a few examples:

Facebook – The most visited website on the Internet, Facebook is immensely popular and widely used by people of virtually all age groups. By creating a page for your business or organization, you can share news, videos, images and other content of interest with users who “like” you.

Twitter – With this microblogging site (and we mean micro; updates or “tweets” cannot exceed 140 characters), users can join in on the ongoing conversation by posting updates about new products, industry news, company awards and other things of note. Twitter also gives Twitterers an opportunity to interact with their following, which can help build and strengthen relationships.

LinkedIn – Essentially Facebook for the professional set, LinkedIn allows users to build an online resume for networking purposes. A LinkedIn profile can help you establish yourself as an authority among business-oriented movers and shakers.

Social News

Social news sites allow users to share links to content they find interesting. If a local newspaper features your business in an article or you have a company blog, you can help this potentially intriguing content gain more readers by sharing these links on social news sites such as:

Digg – One of the most popular social news sites, Digg allows users to share links, as well as photos and videos. Other users can then choose to “digg” articles they like or “bury” articles they don't. The articles with the most digs are featured on the front page of the website.

Multimedia

Does your business have blog entries, image galleries, videos or presentations? One of the most effective ways to promote your business is through multimedia marketing. In addition to uploading or sharing links to your multimedia content on Facebook, Twitter or social news sites, you can also post on social media sites that cater to one specific medium. Here are a few examples:

YouTube – One of the most popular websites on the Internet, YouTube is the go-to source for millions of users for videos of everything from snippets of the latest Family Guy episode to knitting demonstrations. Posting and optimizing a how-to video on YouTube not only exposes you to millions of potential viewers, but establishes your business as an authority in a subject, which can help win over customers.

Flickr – As they say, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” If you have terrific images of your products, make sure to share them on image-oriented social media sites such as Flickr, Picasa or Zooomr. Optimize them by adding descriptive captions, tags and alt text.

Scribd – Dubbed the “YouTube of documents,” Scribd allows users to upload Word documents, spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations for sharing. Once uploaded, these documents are embedded into a web page for easy sharing. Also like YouTube, Scribd currently uses Flash but is switching over to HTML 5 so that documents will be viewable on smartphones.

Local

If you're looking to attract area customers to your business, it's absolutely crucial to have an active presence on the social media sites most used in your community in addition to national and global social media websites. With considerably less competition, small- and medium-sized regional businesses have a particularly good shot at attracting new customers on local social media sites, including:

MerchantCircle – Part online business directory and business social network, MerchantCircle is like a tricked-out phone book entry. With their free listing, users can network with customers and other businesses alike and share photos, blog entries and newsletters. For more exposure, MerchantCircle doubles as an inexpensive advertising platform.

Yelp – Combining local search, reviews and social networking into one site, Yelp is fast becoming one of the most popular websites, with 31 million visitors per month. Though local communities tend to be considerably stronger in major cities than in small- or medium-sized markets, being listed on Yelp can put you in touch with a young, hip and affluent crowd. However, being listed on Yelp also opens you up to reviews, including negative reviews that can be difficult, if not impossible, to remove.

If you’re not sure which of these social media sites your business should be on, CyberMark can advise you on the best social media sites for your company. Contact us for more information.

Previous: The Benefits of Social Media

Next: How to Get the Most Out of Facebook

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