Recently, there has been a rush to get every business online to interact with consumers, and for good reason: 50% of American adults and 70% of all internet users are on social networks, and Americans spend almost a quarter of their online time using those networks. However, while most businesses recognize the important making their brand a presence in the online social sphere, it is difficult to know where to begin. With so many options, as a marketer, how do you determine which platforms are worth your time and energy?
Recently, I have come across quite few questions on inquiry sites such as LinkedIn and Quora, asking about what the largest or most useful social networks are. Everyone knows about Facebook, and the other more popular Western sites, but their knowledge of smaller social networks and the role they play is less intimate.
Hopefully this article will address this question by highlighting notable social platforms, the populations they generally appeal to, and the level of their popularity. Consider who you’re trying to reach, what material they’re interested in, and which platform’s would best highlight your organization’s strengths.
I know you’ve heard of it, you probably use it, and if you’re going to launch a social media campaign it is the single most important platform in your arsenal (not including aspects of your own website, like your blog). With more than 750 million users, Facebook is the largest social network in the world and drives 40% of the web’s social traffic. It is a great way to reach a wide demographic. It also doesn’t hurt that the site allows you to create and customize your own business page, featuring polls, photos, and mapped directions, for free.
If you want to reach a wide audience, share content, and make yourself easy to find; Twitter can help you. The largest microblogging platform in the world, Twitter now boasts well over 200 millions users. If you’re only going to use a few key platforms, Twitter should be on your short list. Data shows that websites that include the tweet button are 7 times more likely to grab social mentions. It’s easy to join relevant conversations by using hashtags for search and in your own tweets. It can also be a helpful resource to keep up with the latest news and follow industry leaders. Here’s a quick overview of Twitter’s history and growth.
LinkedIn boasts on its homepage that over “120 million professionals” use the site, which is why it is an awesome place to establish yourself as an industry authority, or gain information from an expert. Ask or answer questions about the latest industry trends, share knowledge gained from experience, and market yourself by listing your real-world accomplishments. If you plan on using this platform as part of your marketing strategy, keep in mind that it is a site for business-minded individuals, and has a strict adult-only policy.
Youtube might be the single greatest SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tool out there. Did you know videos are about 50 times more likely to be found via search than text is? Consider that Google is the number one search engine, and Youtube (owned by Google), is number two. Showcase your company’s products and personality, and make it that much easier for potential customers to find you. By the way, over 3 billion videos are played every day, and over 100 million people socialize on and interact with Youtube every week. Their primary demographic is wide, with the average user between the ages of 18 and 54.
Google+ has been big news lately. Launched by an industry titan, seen as a direct competition to Facebook, Google+ already has an estimated 32 million users. However, although Google+ shows much promise, as of now its fate is uncertain and is not yet allowing companies to create profiles or pages. Because many of the Google+ users are early adopters, they tend to be younger and slightly wealthier than the average Facebook user. Check out our previous posts for a more in-depth comparison of features and the platform’s possible future.
Have you ever killed hours surfing the web? If not, just try Stumbleupon. Despite Stumbleupon’s relatively modest number of users (15 million with a trend of .5 million joining each month), it drives almost 50% of all social media traffic. The company recently announced that they had reached their 25 billionth stumble, a staggering feat. ‘Stumblers’ specify their interests, and when they click the stumbleupon button they are pulled to a webpage that others with similar interests have given a ‘thumbs-up.’ The entire purpose of stumbleupon is to drive interested users to new websites, so once one user gives you a thumbs up, the chances continue to increase that your site will be found by other users who will enjoy your content.
Yelp allows users to search for businesses in their area, and to find reviews of those businesses. If you are in a service industry, there is a pretty good chance that your business is already on Yelp. If not, prompt some reviews and new business by adding it. It requires very little work, and caters to around 16 million unique visitors a month in the U.S. The company was recently proud to announce that it now featured 20 million reviews.
Both Reddit and Digg are social news sites, and since the two compete for readership they each have very vocal supporters. Both sites are specifically designed to bring the most interesting content from around the web to the ‘front page,’ so they can can be an incredibly powerful tool for bringing users back to your site if your content is engaging. Recently Reddit has exploded in growth and now has over 21.5 million unique monthly visitors. In response to this success, Reddit broke off from Condé Nast and now has its own board as reddit Inc. It is worth noting the demographics of Reddit users in particular, since statistically they tend to be younger, tech-savvy, liberal-leaning males.
Users of foursquare are able to update statuses and ‘check-in’ at various locations using their smartphones, informing friends of their location and activities in real time. The White House began using an account to track President Obama in August, allowing everyday users to check-in at rallies and events. Pew recently conducted a study which found that more than 1 in 4 Americans used “mobile and social location-based services.”
While many social networks are structured around maintaining existing relationships, Tagged works to help users meet new friends. The site has around 18.5 million monthly users, and over 100 million registered users. Like Facebook, Tagged features social games and advertisements.
Essentially Tumblr is a blogging platform, but users also post pictures, quotes and a variety of content for the public- the Tumblr team tells their users to “post anything.” Tumblr has continued to experience increased traffic, and in July the site had over 13 million unique monthly visitors in the U.S. alone, and over 28 million blogs. Here is a demographic breakdown of Tumblr users.
Quora is a question and answer site, and for this reason it is both a great business resource and a great tool for building a reputation as an expert. Quora was launched by two employees of Facebook, and has been growing steadily since it opened to the public in June 2010. However, by social media standards Quora still has a very modest following, and more important than using the service itself is engaging with your community and establishing yourself as an authority, tasks which can be accomplished on sites such as LinkedIn and Stack Exchange as well.
Perhaps the least well known of all the platforms on the list, Pinterest allows users to create virtual pinboards of videos and images from around the web. Although the site has a far smaller userbase than some of the other social behemoths, its fans are loyal, and it can be a great place to spark interest or recruit fans. Unlike Reddit, the larger percentage of users are adult women.
“15 Most Popular Social Networking Sites in the US” from the E-Business Knowledge base
“Social Media Marketing by the Numbers” an Infographic from Mashable
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