Beyond Facebook & Twitter: 7 Social Media Sites for Online Marketing

7 social media sitesOnline marketing strategies must include a social media presence to succeed. A lot of fuss is given to Facebook and Twitter as the end-all of social media networks. It is important to focus some attention on these two websites as they have a huge potential customer base. Unfortunately, other useful social networking sites are often neglected in favour of Twitter and Facebook.

Here are 7 social media sites you should also consider.

1. Foursquare

Foursquare is a mobile social networking site. Users sign up and when they go to a business registered with Foursquare, the system tags their location sharing it with their network. Business owners can use Foursquare to offer discounts, coupons and promotions to users who tag themselves at the physical place of business. When a user does this, Foursquare notifies the user’s entire network of the check-in. This increases your sphere of influence beyond that customer to all of the customer’s networks and friends.  For inspiration, checkout these Foursquare case studies.

2. Yelp

Yelp is an online directory for consumers to review businesses they have had interaction with. The business owner claims the business as his own. Consumers can review the business to recommend it or not recommend it to others. Search engines index Yelp reviews and show a star ranking system to potential customers who are looking into using your services. Developing a large amount of positive, authentic rankings increases your search rankings for the keywords in your business description. For inspiration, read this Yelp case study from 2006, it’s still very much applicable today.

3. Google Places

Google Places is similar to Yelp. It’s an online forum for consumers to rate businesses and share their experience and interaction with your company. Google Places is also indexed by the search engines and can increase your business exposure for location-based searches, gaining you very targeted new clients and customers.  Google has created a video case study of Google places.  See it below.

 4. LinkedIn

LinkedIn is often considered Facebook for businesses. This business social network site allows you to create connections with your professional contacts and generate leads. The site houses a Q&A session for gaining industry knowledge and a job board for hiring qualified employees in your industry. LinkedIn is indexed by the search engines and can increase your exposure to potential clients.  Checkout this great article: 20 case studies on how to use LinkedIn for personal branding. The same concept can be used for brands. Also read my 5 innovative ways to supercharge your LinkedIn profile.

5. Google Plus

Google Plus is Google’s alternative to Facebook. You create networks of people you know with whom to share information, content, video, and pictures. Google Plus provides attractive social media buttons to place on your website to recommend your website to their friends. You can also create circles to target specific customer groups for new products and services.  More on the importance of Google Plus to your search strategy here.   If you have the time, checkout this excellent article: Interesting ways 3 brands are using Google Plus.

6. Pinterest

Pinterest is an online social pin board.  The site allows you to create social albums and pin pictures to share with your friends.   Relatively new to the social space but making lots of noise. The site currently has a bit of US/female bias but rapidly gaining international exposure and interest from male audiences.  Some early adopter brands have already started to use Pinterest as part of their marketing strategy and some retailers are already driving lots of traffic from the site. Savvy SEOs have also started capitalising on Pinterest’s local SEO opportunities and the fact that links are currently followed and therefore pass page rank ;).

7. Other Social Bookmarking Sites

Social Bookmarking websites such as Reddit, Digg, Delicious, and StumbleUpon let you bookmark interesting websites and recommend them to others. The more recommendations a link gets the more people view it. Getting many people to rate and recommend your bookmarked link increases your exposure, gains website traffic and earns new customers for your products and services.  Read this case study for social bookmarking inspiration: Digg vs Reddit.

In a Nutshell…

While Facebook and Twitter cannot be ignored, supplement your  digital strategy with other existing  and/or emerging opportunities such as the ones mentioned above. Use these emerging platforms to expose your brand to new and often more targeted  audiences.  Differentiate your brand from the herd.  After all, didn’t Twitter and Facebook both start off as unknowns at some point? Look where they are now! Don’t be left out in the cold.

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Omar Kattan is Chief Strategy Officer at Sandstorm Digital, the MENA region's first specialist content marketing agency headquartered in Dubai. His experience includes 10 years in traditional marketing and advertising in the Middle East and a further 10 years at two of the largest media agencies in the UK. Follow Omar on Twitter for updates on the latest in digital, branding, advertising and marketing.

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