The 9 Types of Social Media Sites You Need to be on and Why

2577058903_2ceca64c6bWe always get the question from clients wanting to know what is the latest and greatest silver bullet in social media. Sorry, there is not one and there will never be one. Finding and selecting a “silver bullet” is very similar to selecting one broadcast station to run your spot on, one billboard to impact your market or one print ad in one publication to make or break your campaign ROI. It just is not going to happen. Each social site is a series of micro-communities that when integrated with the right message at the right time will synergistically impact or leverage you traditional and online campaigns. 

Microblogging Leader: Twitter – Everyone knows this service. It’s got such a lead in this space that it’s difficult to see anyone else taking over. This is partly due to the traction it already has but it’s biggest asset is the community of users. They are the ones giving the application it’s value and this crowd will not be easily herded into another platform without a very compelling reason
Why microblogging? This article explains the value of microblogging more completely, but in summary microblogging is an ideal way to get a quick snapshot of the mood of the times on any given subject. It is also one of the first services to catch viral fire in the mobile space and shows a lot of growth potential there. 

Bookmarking Leader: Digg – They are tops in social bookmarking and it would certainly behoove you to really have a look at them, not just click through on a link they host. Because of their position, they are better able to try out what might be considered riskier or more blatantly commercial models. In the case of the latter, them adding a bar at the top of pages others have added to Digg might be annoying, helpful or neither but watching how Digg works to monetize is a valuable education in itself. Monitoring the reactions of others would be a master class. It is very important to keep in mind that Digg, like Twitter and Youtube are not the only applications of a given type. Always keep a look out for others in the same space.
Like microblogging, Social bookmarking adds a great deal of efficiency to your searches for useful information on the web. Not only are resources easier to find, but YOU are as well. This means additional promotional opportunities for you and your brand by being able to better target people who will be interested in what you are about. 

Video Leader: Youtube – Youtube has the volume, there is an incredible amount of variety here and it is increasingly a source of education as well. I’ve picked up some tips from varioius videos here and find watching videos a nice change from scanning through assorted blog posts of various quality. Youtube videos do well on Google search, so videos you produce can help generate traffic as well.
Online video is going to become a standard component in social media, there is no doubt about this. What differentiates online video from your network TV variety is that you can do very well with a low budget and high quality content. It is an equalizer for many small businesses and if done well can create trust very quickly, perhaps even quicker than text which can easily be copied or paraphrased from others. 

Photo Sharing Leader: Flicker – Leaders for many of these types of sites are so well known, you might wonder what the point of listing them is. The answer to me is that it is important not to lose track of the service for the brand. Social media will evolve from technologies and less so from branding efforts, particularly when those big sites struggle to monetize and are finding themselves to be playing more and more of a utility role. 
Photo sharing gets good search results so you’d be unwise not to keep an album of photos labeled with keywords related to your site. It’s another traffic driver. Beyond that, it is a good way to research the graphic inspiration of competitors in your niche. This will help with design considerations. 

Search Leader: Google – You can personalize your searches, rate results and save sessions. This not only increases efficiency it also builds the service into a more powerful tool. Beyond that, Google is an innovator and you should be following their changes not via Technorati, as they interpret what important is, but directly with your own eyes as tuned to your own goals.
Search is getting more and more powerful and granular. Part of it’s evolution will be to both measure social media sites and to incorporate their features. Both of these will be able to provide very valuable data. 

Professional Leader: Linked In- Like Twitter, the community is the asset and it is unlikely that people will abandon the connections they have built up over years to try the next cool thing. There is a lot of stability in this model and time put into it is a worthwhile investment
How you choose to promote yourself may or may not include a social network as tight as Linked In, but you should absolutely have a look at and understand the appeal of a system that is more exclusive. 

Purely Social Leader: Facebook – While huge, it also employs the ‘no monetization’ model. Connections can be made here, but what might be the most educational aspect of this application is the lesson it seems to be teaching us about massive scale not leading to massive money. Their efforts in this area should be closely watched because any success they have in making money may be easily transferrable to your own site.
With all the technology out there it’s easy to forget that social media is about socializing. These sites are a great source of both inspiration and warning. Inspiring because of the number of creative applications found within and a warning for the same reason. Purely social sites don’t seem to have a particular purpose and so it is difficult to identify a potential customer and point them toward your value proposition without being ‘The Amway guy’ 

Forums Leader: None – The leader depends on the niche and the number of communities around a given topic varies widely. You will have to do that research but there are great rewards to be had here
Forums might be a static throwback to last century, but they are still a great knowledge resource if moderated with care. Well run forums come with built in trust because the users know that the moderator will drive conversations toward constructive usage. Therefore, when you do put in links to your site, and they stick, you are more likely to receive quality, well targeted traffic. 

City/Regional Weekly Leader: None – Like forums, there are no internet wide leaders. Individual cities and towns will certainly have them and you would be wise to make use of the marketing insight you can get from learning about smaller regional areas.
Social media is going local, this couldn’t be more obvious when you see how many Tweeps are tweeting from smart phones. If you don’t get a more specific regional knowledge, you are unlikely to be able to see where conversations are headed and your targeting of visitors may end up coming across as a spammy saturation bombing effect.

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