What’s the first thing that pops into your head when you think about “social media?”
For us, it’s Facebook. This colossus attracts over 1.3 billion people every day. However, social networking sites like Facebook only represent one of the various types of social media platform. We can name at least seven different types of social media, and we’re going to.
What are they and how can smart marketers and business owners use them to reach a wider audience? Let’s find out.
1. Social networking sites
Most of us are familiar with social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. These platforms help us connect with friends, family, and brands. They encourage knowledge-sharing and are all about personal, human-to-human interaction.
A social networking site is a Jill of all trades. Users can share thoughts, curate content, upload photos and videos, form groups based on interests, and participate in lively discussions. They’re built around the user and everything that’s important to them and their social circles.
So how can social networking sites help your business?
Reach a target audience through ads: These platforms cultivate large, diverse communities. Advertisers can rent permission to interact with people based on specific targeting metrics. For instance, an advertiser who wants to reach a predominantly young crowd could advertise on an app like Snapchat while those who want to reach a professional user may find LinkedIn more appropriate. Because these platforms are incredibly data rich, we can reach a lot of the right people without blowing the entire ad budget.
- Network: Engage with followers, find like-minded customers or potential business partners through hashtags and groups, and build connections.
- Research: Social networking platforms are a great place for digging up customer research and using social listening tools to track conversations around specific terms. This can help us understand (and serve) our audience better.
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2. Social review sites
What’s one of the first things you do when planning a trip or buying a new product? If you’re anything like us, you’ll head straight to the reviews.
Review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor display reviews from community members for all sorts of locations and experiences. This eliminates a lot of the guesswork that goes into booking a restaurant or hotel. Not sure it’s the right thing for you? Check out the reviews and you’ll know.
Businesses can really benefit from studying their reviews, the good and the bad. It helps them:
- Understand the customer’s perspective: Reviews tell us about the customer experience from their own point of view. Use this to identify what’s working and discover areas with room for improvement.
- Solve problems: Reviews are an opportunity to engage with reviewers and solve any potential challenges before they become a huge deal.
3. Image sharing sites
Visual content like images, infographics, and illustrations capture our hearts, eyes and imaginations. Social media platforms like Instagram, Imgur, and Snapchat are designed to amplify the power of image sharing.
Users create, curate, and share unique images that spark conversation and speak for themselves. A picture can be worth a thousand words to your business. Use these sites to:
- Encourage user-generated content: Image sharing sites are a gift for photogenic businesses. You can run campaigns encouraging users to snap and share a pic with your product and a unique hashtag.
- Create inspiration: By creating, curating, and sharing your own images, you can inspire and engage users, bonding over a shared interest.
4. Video hosting sites
YouTube revolutionized the way we watch, create, and think about video. It transformed the medium into something accessible. Recent improvements in tech and connectivity helped video go the rest of the way.
Video hosting platforms like YouTube and Vimeo help creators put together content and share it to a platform optimized for streaming. This accessibility makes video a super important medium.
Use video hosting sites to:
- Share phenomenal content: Yes. This point is a bit obvious, but creators can use YouTube to build communities and get their content out there.
- Engage: YouTube’s comment section offers plenty of opportunities to get to know the people watching your content.
5. Community blogs
Sometimes an image or post isn’t complex enough for the message you’ve got to share, but not everyone on the internet wants to run a blog from a self-hosted website. That’s a lot of work.
Shared blogging platforms like Medium and Tumblr give people a space to express their thoughts and help connect them with readers.
These community blog sites provide an audience while allowing plenty of room for customization and self expression. Use them to:
- Develop your voice: Starting a blog can be daunting. Use platforms like Medium and Tumblr to find your voice, get some readers, and get clear about your vision.
- Syndicate content: If you do have a blog, you can use community blogging platforms to share, re-purpose, and re-post older content and expose it to a new audience.
6. Discussion sites
While most of us have seen many a heated discussion happen on Facebook, discussion sites like Reddit and Quora are specifically designed to spark a conversation. Anyone is free to ask a question or make a statement, and this attracts people with shared interests and curiosities. However, unlike Facebook and Instagram, users tend to give out less identifiable information.
So how can these platforms help your business?
- Research: Reddit is made up of different sub-communities. With a bit of research, you can find and engage people in your field, discover what they’re asking, and use this as a starting point for your content marketing strategy.
- Answer questions: Quora users ask all sorts of questions. Answering them can help establish you as a thought leader and drive more traffic to your site.
7. Sharing economy networks
Sites like AirBnB and Rover aren’t just a cool place to find cheap holiday rentals or a pet sitter. Sharing economy networks bring people who’ve got something they want to share together with the people who need it. These communities provide opportunities that won’t exist otherwise by pooling resources on a large scale that wouldn’t be possible without tech.
The type of social media that’s right for you
Social media comes in many different flavors. You can use most of these types to help your business, one way or another. Get clear about what you want to achieve, think creatively, and most importantly, keep it human.
Biteable was created largely so people could quickly, easily, and cheaply create high-quality video content for many of the social media sites listed above, so if you haven’t already, you should check it out.