The Latest and Greatest Social Networks (And How to Use Them For Business)
If you are like me, you are longing for the days when social media was easy. And FUN! I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love all the things we can do with social media now days. But lately, being on Facebook has become a chore for me. With all the political nonsense to worry about (both nationally and the internal politics that exist between human relationships), I’ve found myself losing interest quickly and longing for the days of customized (albeit insane) MySpace profiles!
Luckily, the latest crazes in social networking are starting to bring the social aspects of media back to the forefront. Their clean, focused designs (and targets) are actually allowing for some FUN in social media again! Below is a breakdown of three of the latest social media platforms, along with main target audiences and some ideas for how you can leverage them for your business:
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, I’m sure you’ve heard of this tiny little start up that has ballooned into a huge craze. With over 10 million users registered (80% of which are women), Pinterest is already considered the “social media darling” of 2012. In case you are not one of them, Pinterest is basically a photo sharing site designed to easily share images around the Web. Users can upload their own images or “pin” what they like from websites to their very own image “boards.” Think scrapbooking in the digital world.
There is little doubt that Pinterest will continue to grow and be important in 2012. What is yet to be determined is if this network will become a flash in the pan, or if it has some legs to stand on. As with any good idea, rapid growth without a clear plan can be the kiss of death, so only time will tell how the developers handle their growth. There have been recent rumblings that this network could go the way of Napster, with the creative/photography industry in uproar over free sharing of their work. And although users are addicted now, will they stay addicted once the “high” wears off and the next social platform comes around? Only time will tell, but with their recent integration as a Facebook app and adjustments to their policies, I have a feeling that Pinterest will stay on the radar for at least a little bit longer.
Who it’s targeted to: Renee Achterhof, content developer at MINDSCAPE, suggests that the site is “…for the visual craver. It’s simple, yet somewhat chaotic layout is somehow both aesthetically pleasing and plucks at user’s heartstrings. This network is picking up speed, and fast. Ranging from cutesy arts and crafts to spins on old-fashioned recipes to funny women’s rights-type puns, Pinterest is the guilty pleasure of a busy woman.”
Ways your business can use it: Create a board and start pinning! If you are a company that focuses on high design, then post images of great design. If you are a marketing firm, you could try pinning inspirational quotes or infographics that you like. Feel free to have some fun and let your company’s personality show through in what boards you create and items you pin! Don’t forget to make sure the images on your website can easily be “pinned.” Better yet, create content/images designed to be “pinned.” Right now, there is no official “Pinterest for brands” policy yet, but stay tuned to be sure you are in line with any changes.
Since you cannot connect with a Facebook fan page (and we all know that having a personal page for businesses is a no-no), don’t forget to encourage employees to create an account and “re-pin” content you post. Since they can connect with their friends, it will help share the content. You can connect to your business’s Twitter account, and there is nothing wrong with letting your Facebook fans know you have started a new board.
Spotify is an internet based radio application that originally gained popularity in Europe due to simple interface, easy-to-use application and social aspects. Personally, this is one of my favorite “social networks,” though it’s not technically it’s own social networking community. The application offers millions of free tunes for listening pleasure, gives the option to import users’ own music and allows creation of playlists of favorite tracks. Think Pandora mixed with iTunes. Users also have the option to upgrade to premium subscriptions, which removes the ads and gives the option for offline listening.
Spotify is unique from other media services in that with one easy click, users can connect their account with Facebook and Twitter and see their friends’ favorite lists and tracks. You may have noticed some of your friends “listening to” various songs on Spotify on your Facebook news ticker, as posting your current track is part of the Spotify Facebook App. In addition to sharing, users can discover new music from those they trust and share activity on social media. They can even send another user a track to check out or even a whole playlist for them to listen to – kind of like making a mixed tape for someone, but in the digital age. I love this feature- I’m always looking for new music and wanting to share the latest tracks I’m feeling with my friends. I feel like with Spotify, the FUN is back in digital music!
Who’s it for: For the music junkie, looking to discover new music and techies who are early adopters looking for the latest thing. I also think this is a great platform for anyone who loves the convenience of controlling their music from their computer but wants to access their own playlists in the cloud.
Business use: Although the business uses of Spotify are limited right now (unless you are a musician/band/promoter trying to get a song out there), you can still leverage this platform to increase your brand awareness by creating a brand playlist of music that relates to your organization. Or, you could showcase some brand personality by asking your team to add their favorite song to a list. Share your playlists with your fans across social media – you may just introduce your fans to something new! Although your return on investment is limited, it’s still a fun, quick and easy way to share the culture and personality of your organization.
GetGlue is the latest app attempting to make offline activities social. Users can read a book, watch a movie, drink wine or (the most common use) watch their favorite TV show and share that activity socially. When users check-in while watching a particular show they can discuss the happenings in real time with other users around the globe. Plus, the activity will automatically feed into the user’s Facebook and/or Twitter accounts, allowing to share their activity as it’s actually occurring.
Although this app is not overly popular yet, I can easily see how it (and others like it) could impact the way in which we watch TV. I think that giving users the opportunity to connect while a show is broadcasted live changes the recent trends of watching television “on demand” via streaming or a DVR – especially for reality TV addicts. People are using a second screen while watching TV on a daily basis (come on, like you don’t?), so I can easily see this connecting those with similar interests and opening the doors to discuss the program. Plus, the app gives the opportunity to write reviews and suggestions, so those looking for new shows or movies to check out can benefit by seeing what others have to say about them.
Who it’s for: Television junkies, movie watchers and everyone in between. With the variety of activities you can share, almost anyone would want to “GetGlued.”
Business use: Similar to Spotify, GetGlued is limited for business use right now (unless your business is directly tied to the entertainment industry). But you can get involved by sharing your thoughts about favorite shows, movies, books or activities with your followers on Twitter. It’s a great way to see what your fans/followers are into and start a conversation. You never know where that conversation may lead…
These three social networks are just the beginning. Networks like Gentlemint (similar to Pinterest but for men) and BUZZ.net are already gaining some street cred. Plus, there are new ones forming every day focused on niche industries like travel, design and sports. As I’ve said before, 2012 will bring the emergence of smaller, focused social networks, which means you need to be on the lookout for your industry’s specialty network to get in on it as soon as possible!
Remember: Not everything on social media has to be directly tied to promoting your business; it can just be for fun too!