Due to the exponential growth in social media, the concept of marketing has changed greatly in the last decade.
Traditional marketing techniques are no longer as effective as they once were and modern marketers are turning to social media to pick up the slack. In addition, portions of marketing budgets are also being allocated to social media efforts.
It is proven that social media returns a positive ROI for businesses and the trend is showing now signs of stopping.
There are hundreds of social media platforms currently available but I’ve compiled a list of the top 9 in regards to increasing brand recognition, gaining important customer feedback and, most importantly, increasing conversion rates.
As many of you have probably guessed, Facebook has been and still is the #1 social media platform for marketing and product/service promotion. With over 700 million users, Facebook boasts the largest user base of all social media systems in the world.
Not only does Facebook offer the largest audience with which you can promote your product(s) or service(s), but it also provides many revolutionary and groundbreaking mechanisms with which you can reach that audience.
The Facebook “like button” is probably the most important feature that companies should feature on any and all of their online presences. When a user presses the “like” button on a particular website, the page is automatically listed on their Facebook profile page. Anyone who views their page, is then presented with a link to the article. Most importantly however, they know that their friend recommends the particular website or article.
Facebook also allows companies to create “business pages” that can be used to promote their products and services. When somebody becomes a fan of a company’s Facebook business page, they will see updates posted by the particular company on their Facebook homepage.
The combination of a gargantuan user base and powerful marketing mechanisms makes Facebook the most powerful social media marketing tool for businesses and individuals alike!
Albeit not as powerful as Facebook, Twitter is definitely a social media platform that marketers should look to take full advantage of.
One advantage Twitter has over Facebook is that Twitter users are more interested in current events, news, videos and media. Facebook users tend to be more interested in social activities, local events and making friends.
Twitter is also very easy to use and a business’s posts and updates will be searchable by any Twitter user (as long as your privacy settings are configured correctly).
For example, if I were to tweet the following phrase: “AnsonAlex.com has great technology articles“, the tweet would be visible to to anyone searching for “technology articles“.
Over time however, more recent tweets would be displayed above my tweet in search results. That is why one of the key factors in using Twitter is consistency.
As a user becomes more active on Twitter, the number of “followers” they have will increase exponentially. By understanding this, over the course of a year, two years or even three years, Twitter can emerge as a very powerful marketing tool for your company or organization.
It is also a great way to receive feedback from your customers or clients. Other Twitter users can send you direct messages or mention your company in their Tweets. As you probably know, successful organizations solicite, pay attention and react to customer feedback. Twitter is a great way to receive feedback without having to always proactively solicite users to submit feedback.
Since its launch in 2003, LinkedIn has emerged as the go-to social media platform for business professionals.
Because of that, LinkedIn is a very important platform for marketers to actively use. The conversation in LinkedIn tend to be more intelligent and “deeper” than those in Facebook and Twitter. LinkedIn users put more effort and thought into their posts and comments, making it a great place for your business to be chatted about.
It is also an effective tool to find new employees and possible business partners. The speed at which activity occurs in LinkedIn is not as quick as other social media platforms so marketers should take their time in deciding how to leverage the system for their particular organization.
We’ve all heard the buzz that the future of the internet is almost entirely in video content. Search engine giants like Google are working very hard to develop software that can actually index the content within a video, specifically videos uploaded to YouTube. Be prepared for video indexing software to become functional much sooner than later.
With that in mind, one of the best ways marketers can increase buzz about their brand is by uploading and “socialmediaizing” (yes I invented that word), videos related to their organization.
When one talks about things going “viral” on the internet, YouTube is using the platform that spearheads that conversation. Without YouTube the world probably wouldn’t know about Justin Beiber, Charlie wouldn’t have bitten anyone’s finger and we would never have known that baby pandas can sneeze.
Although those are some extreme examples, the ability for organizations and companies to create their own video channels on YouTube really opens the floodgates for corporate creativity. After airing their new advertisement campaign at the SuperBowl in 2010, Old Spice continued the campaign on YouTube which turned out to be very successful – and profitable – for the company.
YouTube is a great place for marketers to appeal an audience that they normally may not reach. As Old Spice demonstrated, it is also a great place to recycle older content or even update content. I have read many articles from successful bloggers that explain how taking an old print article and turing it into a YouTube video is a great way to create new content without having to create brand new ideas.
Google+ launched in the summer of 2011 and although it still has not gained the user base of Facebook or Twitter, it does have over 40 million users.
One advantage that Google+ has over Twitter and Facebook is that it appeals to users who like to share rich media content such as images, gifs and videos. Although Facebook has made some impressive changes to how content is displayed on their platform, content shared on Google+ tends to be re-shared more than on Facebook.
Google+ is not yet a replacement for Facebook but it can expose your organization’s content to another demographic of potential customers. Google+ users tend to create category specific “circles” or groups of people who share a certain type of content.
By taking advantage of this revolutionary feature, you can more easily conduct A/B testing and target certain types of content at specific demographics of users.
Although Facebook still drives a lot more traffic to my site than Google+ (despite having more Google+ followers than Facebook followers), Google+ creates a lot more discussion related to the content I share and I receive much more valuable feedback from my Google+ followers.
This is definitely a platform that marketers should be aware of – especially because business pages, similar to those in Facebook, are going to be released in the very near future on Google+.
StumbleUpon is a social sharing tool that is hard to proactively use for promotional purposes but, if marketers and web designers provide the right mediums for which users can use to share content, can be the most powerful social media platform for marketing on the internet.
Users of StumbleUpon randomly browse webpages related to a topic of their choice that have been recommend by other StumbleUpon users. If the user enjoys the page, they can give the page a “thumbs up”. If they do not enjoy the content on the page, the can give it a “thumbs down”.
The more thumbs up a particular page receives, the more likely other StumbleUpon users are to be directed to that page.
Now you may be thinking – “Why don’t I just thumbs up all of my content as many times as I can?” Although a valid idea, StumbleUpon does a good job of monitoring the activity of their users and if they suspect that a user is “fixing the system” they will penalized the content submitted by that user.
Therefore it is best to provide a StumbleUpon button on all of your organizations online content and hope that StumbleUpon “power users” will share the content. Depending on how popular the user who shares your content is, you may see a particular page or article getting 10-100 visits from StumbleUpon or if you get real lucky you may get over 1,000,000 StumbleUpon hits.
In the end, the best way to use StumbleUpon is to create super quality content and provide the right mediums for your users to share that content!
Digg is a social sharing platform that, although not as popular as it once was, can still drive a great deal of traffic to content that appeals to its users.
Digg works similar to how Facebook “likes” work. If a user enjoys an article, they can submit it to Digg. Consequently, the article will show up in the news feed of all the people who follow the submitter. If additional readers enjoy the article they can “digg” it. A total count of the all the diggs that a particular article has received is kept and, the more diggs an article gets, the more people it is pushed forward to. If a particular article receives a large amount of diggs (usually 200+), it will appear in the “top news” section of Digg.com – providing more exposure to the particular article.
The term “the digg effect” is now a general term for when an article goes viral due to a massive amount of people socially sharing the content on any social platform. As you can probably derive from the name of the term, it began when users of Digg.com would promote a particular article and drive more traffic to the particular article in one day than the entire site had ever had in the course of its lifetime.
I’ve actually written an article on how to use Digg to promote your website, but what it really comes down to is being active part of the Digg community. Like other social platforms, there is no “get a million hits quick scheme” when using Digg but it is definitely a tool that, if used consistently, can add value to your company or organization’s online portfolio.
EmpireAvenue is a virtual stock market where users can buy and sell shares of stock in one another. I started using “EA” almost 8 months ago and I still use it every single day.
The stock prices in Empire Avenue are based on your interaction and activities across all of your social profiles. Once you connect your other social profiles to Empire Avenue (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, FourSquare), you then receive a score for that particular social platform.
The higher your scores, the higher your stock price will rise. When users purchase stock in your profile, the price of your stock also rises. By purchasing stock in other people, you receive daily dividends that increase your “net wealth” and give you more “eaves” (Empire Avenue money) to invest in other users.
Although there are some forums within the site and an option to send a message to all of your shareholders, the real power of Empire Avenue is not necessarily in promoting your content. Instead it is a tool that allows to you to measure your social interaction across all of your social media profiles.
I have definitely seen a correlation in my EA stock price and how many visits my blog receives. If I notice my stock price dropping, I know that I need to be more active and engage users more often in social media.
If you’re trying to promote your company or brand through the use of social media then Empire Avenue it a tool that you definitely need to use – if only to measure your success in other social media platforms.
Reddit is another social sharing tool similar to Digg. Users can submit an article to Reddit in a particular category. Once listed in the category, other users can give the article a “+1″ or a “-1″. The more +1′s a particular article receives, the higher it will appear within the particular category and the longer it will stay at the top.
The aspect of Reddit that makes it unique is the ability of users to actually -1 something. Because of this, you should be careful when using Reddit. If the quality of your content is not up to speed, the users of Reddit will be very quick to let you know that.
Also, sharing your own content on Reddit is severely frowned upon and, even if you submit quality content, if it is obvious that you are sharing your own content, users will demote it regardless of the quality.
I personally am not a very big fan of Reddit and that is why it is #9 on this list. I do know of some bloggers and internet marketers who have had a lot of success using Reddit as a social media marketing platform.