You’d be hard-pressed to find a small business that doesn’t own at least one social media profile. The seven most popular platforms include Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest and Foursquare. The traditional offerings of status updates, links and photos might start to feel tedious, but luckily there are lots of new and novel social channels that offer something different.
So why not try something new? Here are four unique platforms that provide their own twist on social marketing.
A much more refined version of Yahoo Answers, Quora provides a question-and-answer service that allows users to vote on answers that are particularly useful or insightful. What’s more, questions are sorted into user-defined categories, allowing for specific and straightforward browsing of many subjects. For example, I personally follow the topics of Internet Advertising, Web Marketing, Advertising and Advertisements, Digital Marketing, and Mobile Advertising – just to name a few.
Small businesses can use Quora to answer questions within their own industry for a number of reasons:
- Driving traffic through the user’s profile
- Suggesting your product as a solution in an answer
- Establishing your company as a thought-leader in the industry
Recently, I answered a question on monitoring competitors. I gave a number of external solutions, but also explained how our company’s services could be used in this situation. A week later, someone contacted our sales team, saying that he had read my Quora response and was interested in a trial!
The low down: Quora is great for proving your company’s authority in your industry and for identifying common problems that users have. Writing content might be difficult if you’re unfamiliar with the space and is undoubtedly time-consuming, but it could pay off if you position your product in the right way!
If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then (according to Forrester Research) a seven-second video is worth 210,000. Vine exploded onto the social media scene earlier this year with short videos that allow users to express their creative (and often funny) side. Dove took advantage of this format to develop a stop-motion commercial for its body wash, while Wheat Thins created an engaging message using its crackers.
As the most used video-sharing application in the market, Vine also presents a great opportunity to collect user-generated content. Dunkin’ Donuts asked its fans to show how their iced coffee “puts a spring in their step” by tagging videos with the #IceDD hashtag. By harnessing their fan base, the coffee chain was able to spread its message to the followers of anyone who submitted a video.
The low down: Producing a Vine video may take longer than writing a tweet or Instagramming a photo, but it’s a fun and outrageous way to engage your audience.
Though Pinterest has largely monopolized the space of photo sharing for product discovery, it has yet to fill the gap between awareness and purchase – which is where Fancy comes in. Users can browse items and purchase products directly on the social platform, without having to visit the merchant site.
Much like Pinterest, Fancy provides a bookmarklet that can be installed into users’ browsers, which allows members to curate product images to their personal feeds. On the merchant side of things, vendors can search through previously fancied items that originate from their website, and can elect to sell it through the platform. The site takes a 10% commission off of all sales.
The low down: Fancy is great for B2C e-commerce companies who want to harness social sharing for promotions and sales. That being said, the site takes a somewhat steep cut, and the model greatly favors products that are virally popular and can inspire a certain lifestyle (such as clothing, jewelry, etc.).
Meetup allows its members to join city-specific groups for similar interests, such as politics, movies, kittens – you name it. The company says it has more than 14.93 million members in 196 countries.
Especially if you’re a local company, this is a great way to bring together people who might work in your industry or are interested in your niche. Organize an event to share ideas, meet your fans, or try a new activity, but refrain from excessively pushing your product – having your company name attached to the meetup offers targeted and positive publicity anyways.
The low down: Companies can use Meetup as a subtle way to rally potential clients or current fans. Depending on the payment plan, group administrators are charged $12 to $19 per month. Though the return isn’t immediate, building a community that is passionate about your company is priceless.
Joanna Xu recently graduated from McGill and now works on the marketing team at WhatRunsWhere, a competitive intelligence platform for digital advertisers. When she’s not digging up the latest industry news and spreading the word about WhatRunsWhere, she can be found eating salty snacks.