Social Media Platforms and Other Avenues for Promoting Your Business October, 2013

Social Media and Social Bookmarking

Social media is the broad term for any online tool that enables users to interact with thousands of other users. Instant messaging and chatting are common forms of social media, as are blogs with comments, discussion forums, video-sharing and photo-sharing websites. Facebook.com and MySpace.com are very large social media sites, as are YouTube.com and Digg.com.

Social bookmarking is a specific form of social media. Social bookmarking is where users interact by recommending websites to each other ('tagging sites').

Facebook: A widely-adopted platform used by large segments of the population.

Twitter: A surprisingly-successful tool that is widely-adopted and used for everything from business to fun and games. ??

Pinterest: A visually appealing way to post and share using pin boards. Although there are many competitors, Pinterest is gaining a lot of traction.

Google+: Similar to Facebook, gaining traction and is easy to use.

Ning: This site connects groups of people who are passionate about particular interests, topics or hobbies. ??Great for connecting with others who are interested in your area of expertise. ??Once you???ve figured it out, it can be a good tool.

Plaxo: Currently hosts address books for more than 40 million people. Helps people stay in touch with ???Pulse,??? which is a dashboard that lets you see what the people (competitors?) you know are sharing all over the web.

LinkedIn: A networking site with many users, most professional. The problem is most people have trouble knowing what to do with LinkedIn after they upload their business information.

XING: XING has more than 8 million subscribers worldwide. It has over 34,000 specialized groups and over 150,000 live networking events each year. XING adds new developments to their platform on a regular basis.

Flickr: Photo-sharing site that can be used to build awareness and drive traffic to your product pages. Not a lot of users, so it is not the first platform you work into your social media campaign.

Picasa: This is a photo organizing, editing and sharing site that???s owned by Google. Tag photos to enable quick searches by users. Easy to use.

Instagram: A photography app that???s sweeping the globe. For smartphones, you can enhance, stylize and share the photo with others in your network.

YouTube: YouTube is one of the better-known platforms used to promote businesses. YouTube is perfect for ???How To??? videos. But is cluttered and can sometimes have unprofessional, unwelcome videos.

Vimeo: A ???high-end??? YouTube. It???s perfect for people interested in sharing their videos with a community of positive, encouraging creative professionals. Encourages upbeat, optimistic, life-affirming content. ??Competitor to You Tube.

Howcast: Competitor to YouTube. Worth checking out, but You Tube is still the number one video platform.

iTunes: This is not the only podcasting site, but it???s the best-known and most popular. Good for interviews with industry experts or if you???re creating mini-radio shows.

Scribd: This is the largest social publishing and reading site in the world. You simply upload your speech, ebook or PowerPoint presentation to the site so that others can be awed by your wisdom and expertise. A great way to potentially get your content in front of thousands of readers.

SlideShare: Another well-known place to upload your content for sharing with others. Take your PowerPoint, your ebook, your Podcast or just about any other content and share it with the SlideShare community.

Delicious: This is a social bookmarking service owned by Yahoo. When someone tags your article, video or blog post with a Delicious bookmark, it???s the equivalent of a ???vote.??? The more votes you get, the more visibility your content has on the Delicious website.

Digg: Similar to Delicious in that people vote for articles, videos and blog posts they like. If your content receives enough Diggs, it???s promoted to the front page for millions of visitors to see.

Reddit: Similar to Digg and Delicious. Reddit is a source for what???s new and popular on the web. Users can vote articles up or down on the site.

StumbleUpon: Very similar to Digg, Delicious and Reddit. When you rate a website that you like using StumbleUpon, it???s automatically shared with like-minded people. And it helps you find great sites your friends recommend.

Yelp: This platform offers user-generated reviews on cool places to eat, shop, drink, relax and play. Yelp has an augmented reality Smart Phone application that makes using it on the run a blast. User-generated reviews are a great way for customers and prospects to find out about your business. Some people try to game the system with faux reviews, but Yelp does a pretty good job of keeping those faux reviews at bay.

Bing: Bing, Google and Yahoo aren???t technically social media platforms, but they are tools that can be used to promote your product or service. The technique for using any search engine to promote your product or service is the same so you???ll want to optimize your website so that the search engines see it. By doing this, you will drive traffic to your website based on user???s search queries. ??

Google: Largest search engine. Pervasive.?? Sets standards for search engines.

Yahoo: Like Google and Bing, this is not technically a social media platform. But it is a tool that ultimately can drive traffic to your website. Be sure to optimize your website so that search engines like Yahoo can see it.

Blogging Platforms: Tools that are used to create blogs. Some of them, like Blogger, Tumblr, Vox or Xanga are straightforward platforms that are for simple blogs about vacations, family reunions, etc. To create a more robust blog that adds a lot of SEO value for your website, you???ll use Joomla, Drupal, Typepad or WordPress.

Discussion Boards and Forums: An online forum where members of your community can engage with each other and offer each other advice. The best-known platforms for forums include Lefora, Zoho, Drupal, PhpBB, Simple Machines, Vanila, JavaBB and vBulletin. Forums are a great way to build a relationship with customers and prospects.

Email Marketing Platforms: Email is a tool that helps you have a dialogue with your customers and prospects, so it falls into the social media category. Popular email marketing tools include AWeber (affiliate link), Top Right, Constant Contact, iContact, ExactTarget and others. Email is a highly measurable way to connect with customers and prospects, but requires ongoing effort. ??

Quora: A platform to ask a question that requires an expert answer. Just type in a question and Quora will provide answers from other users. Quora is frequented by smart, well-educated users, so the answers tend to be very helpful and well-thought-out. Great place to get inspiration for your website content.

Managing Social Media Campaigns

HootSuite: This is a tool that allows you to manage multiple social media channels through one dashboard. If you have a social media campaign with a variety of platforms, HootSuite is a good solution.

TweetDeck: Like HootSuite, TweetDeck provides a way to track many of your social media channels on one dashboard. It can be a time-saver and a productivity-enhancer.??

Buffer: This social media management tool allows you to schedule Tweets and Facebook updates easily from your web browser. It???s perfect for people not interested in using HootSuite.

MarketMeSuite: This is a social media dashboard that???s similar to HootSuite and TweetDeck. It???s perfect for people who are interested in drilling down a little deeper than either HootSuite or TweetDeck allow you to do. You wouldn???t want to use MarketMeSuite in addition to the others, but instead of. If you need a more in-depth experience, MarketMeSuite may be just what you need.

Social Media Platforms Not Typically Used for Business

MySpace: MySpace is primarily used as a congregation point for younger people interested in pop culture. ??Generally not used for business.

Friendster: A way to stay connected with everything that???s important to you ??? hobbies, interests, causes, business, etc. Not for business.

MyLife: A clean, simple site that helps people connect with family, friends and other relationships. Not for business.

hi5: This is a social networking platform that skews a little younger than LinkedIn. It may not be the best social networking platform for business.

Path: A location-based social sharing app that shares photos, memories, music, thoughts and other moments with friends in your social media circle.