Social media is quickly becoming the “it” phrase for marketers. We have flocked to twitter and are pumping out tweets to add to the collective conversation. We are using tools like tweetdeck to manage feeds and conversations of interest. We have put up a fan page on facebook to supplement our existing websites as a way to connect immediately with people who are our fans. We also are creating and joining groups on LinkedIn to leverage our position as thought leaders…but, this is not where it ends.
To truly understand social media and your place in this online world is to understand that almost every day there is a new channel rising up. Certainly a lot of these tools will come and go, but what about the ones that stick? Are you there, are you speaking to these audiences? If not, are your competitors? Have you looked to see if your brand is still available as a user name?
This last point is a big one. As social media grows, we marketers lose an element of control over our brands and place it squarely in the hands of the community at large. This can be a great thing, if you are using social media to its fullest as that is actually one of the goals. You want others to speak about your company to their followers, but what if someone takes your existing brand and starts a presence on an up and coming site? Celebrities deal with this all the time and it isn’t something that businesses should think they are immune to.
It is important to be aware of not only what is hot now, but what might be hot in the future. Even if you don’t have the time to manage every possible social community there are tools that can assist you in easily distributing your message over multiple platforms without much additional effort or time commitment. Even if you decide a certain channel is not appropriate for you, which is highly likely, it still might be in your interests to create a profile to secure no one else does first. In addition, a lot of these communities offer the ability to include your URL in the profile so at a minimum you are placing that link across a broader spectrum of the internet.
Following is a list of some of the larger social media sites, including a little basic information on each.
My.mashable.com: Mashable is a site you should be familiar with. Mashable is the leading blog focused exclusively on Web 2.0 and Social Networking. It is frequently linked on other social media networks. Basically my.mashable is your profile on this site where you can also add links to your other social networks along with other basic information. The site allows you to list your current activity, join and create groups and friend other members of the community.
Plaxo.com: Plaxo bills itself as “not a place to see how many online friends you can collect” It is basically an address book that allows you to post updates to the people in your book. It is a place to share blogs, photos, etc. Pulse works as a dashboard to view others social media platforms in one place. It is kind of the more grown up version of the better known aggregator friendfeed.
Friendfeed: it is just what its name is – a feed of all of you friends other social media activities – you can link twitter, facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc here and see everyone’s update in real time. What if your friends aren’t on friendfeed? No problem, it allows you to create a virtual profile for them until they eventually do jump on the wagon like they did for twitter and facebook. Also, you can segment your feeds into categories like personal, business, etc. You can also create and join groups relevant to you or your business interests.
LinkedIn: At the most basic level LI allows you to connect with all of your business contacts made over the years and serves as a living resume for you. LinkedIn also allows you to become a member or create groups with business professionals with like interests where you can share your insights and content with others who have opted in. Also, another big portion on the LI site is Answers – if you haven’t made yourself familiar with answers yet I recommend you do so soon.
Streetmavens: This operates similar to twitter with its microblog quality, but at a very local level. If you are a small business working in a specific geographic area it is something to consider as it is a place where people go to find out what is happening in their area. Plus, it offers a search feature that allows people to find what they are looking for happening in their city.
Twitter: The biggest microblog in the game
Ping.fm: this in itself is not a social tool you go to find information, rather it is a tool to use to create a message in one place and then it does the work of submitting it to your feeds on all of your other social sites. It is a blessing for those of us trying to easily get a message out to more than one channel fast.
Identi.ca: when of the up and comers in the world of microblogging. Its interface is not as clean as twitter, but navigating based on the tab based system is pretty easy. It does not have close to the community size as twitter, and is filled primarily with early adopters. A feature that identi.ca has that twitter does not on its mane site is the ability to create and join groups.
Koornk: Basically a twitter clone with clucks as opposed to tweets, which offers localization and opened support.
Kwippy: again, another microblog which offers the ability to share Gtalk, Yahoo and Facebook status messages with friends and have conversations around them. You can add kwippy as a contact in your IM and your statuses get stored and you get IM notifications whenever someone comments. Kwippy is still in early adopter phase and you need to submit your email to be invited to the community.
Multiply: Multiply is a community that allows you to update status, add photos, your blog, music, reviews and contacts all to one main dash. You can also create and join groups add videos and links to your profile. You can use the site for free, but Multiply also features a paid subscription that allows you to sort high res originals of photos and video, gives access to others hi-res content, higher video upload limits, ad-free browsing and one click album downloads.
Plurk: another in the growing number of microblogs, with a twist. Plurk shoes your 140 character updates in a timeline format instead of the traditional linear format used by other microblogs.
Tumblr: This site allows you to post photos, text, links, music, videos etc. You can post from your desktop, browser phone or even email. Tumblr also allows you to create an audio post from your phone. An added cool feature is the ability to add tags.
Vox: A blogging tool that allows easy integration with Flickr and YouTube.
jaiku: Yet another microblog, this time with the power of the name Google behind it. Jaiku operates a lot like twitter and allows the creation of channels (basically hash tagging) the biggest problem with jaiku right now is the lack of a good search feature, but with Google behind the scenes it may only be a matter of time.
Brightkite: Again a microblog, but the difference with Brightkite is that it is based on geography where you can check in to let people know where you are and add a photo of your current location – it is also a good tool to find out what is going on in the area you are. But in the end, functions like a microblog with pictures.
Youare: Basically, again, a microblog that was started in Spanish and moved to French and English speaking communities. Like twitter you can post updates in 140 characters, but you can also share video and pictures. However, here is where it is really different – full bios, including work life and education and the ability to add favorites and import from Flickr, YouTube and Delicious.
claimed / OpenID: A one stop place to create a log-in that can be used on sites like Livejournal, Magnolia, Technorati and Twurl (to name a few.) On your page you create a profile of all the sites that comprise your identity allowing you to easily prove ownership.
Slideshare: Have a cool presentation, this is the place to share it with the world – SS allows you to also embed shows onto blog or website, share publicly or privately, synch audio to slides, market events and join groups.
Facebook: the standard line for facebook is it is an a living directory of everyone you care to keep connected with from birth to today and share what is going on in your world. On the business side there are fan pages where you can connect with the entire facebook universe if they become a fan. You can add events, pictures, updates and send messages to all of your fans quickly.
Bit.ly: URL shrinker with advanced analytics
Twurl.cc: URL shrinker that allows you to track number of clicks
Vimeo: A place for you to share videos
Seesmic: another place to add personal videos – the cool twist is the ability to create conversations with other people submitting their video updates.
YouTube: Beyond just uploading video you need to look at the benefits of creating a YouTube channel where you can add a detailed bio and links to your site – post recent activity updates and comment back and forth with viewers of the channel. Plus as you get subscribers to your channel they can be notified of new updates.
So, that is my list. Like I said earlier the world of social media is ever growing and in short time this list will be obsolete supplemented by the next 30 sites of interest. In the big ocean of Social Media, do you know if you have even begun to create a ripple?
One of the cool things that have occurred based on some of my recent posts is the awareness level I have gained about some companies and products I didn’t know existed. From direct feedback to my own research I have learned a lot about these companies and the things they produce.
I have also had the chance to see that many of these cool little companies and products don’t have the bandwidth to market with some of the larger, better known brands. They don’t have the teams to help with SEO and PR to help pull their websites to page one in search ranks. They may not know about how a search marketing campaign can help drive traffic, or how inexpensive it can be. Also, some have not jumped on the social media bandwagon based on either not knowing how it works or not having enough hours in the day. These cool little companies and products are the small businesses that we hear so much about being the lifeblood of our country, and especially in times like this everyone could use a little extra publicity.
So, I have decided to do a little experiment. What I want to do is find out what cool products you feel need a little extra shout out (I hate that phrase, but whatever.) I am asking those of you that read this to send me a link to the company/product website (G rated of course) along with just a few words about why I should link them from the blog. Please note that I may use your comments along with the link to let others know why they should check this product out. In an upcoming post I will put together the links that pass my little sniff test and put them out to my readers (OK, I am not like CNN, but some people do actually read this stuff.) And in SEO every link counts (OK not every link, but that is not the point I am trying to achieve.)
Could this be a colossal failure and no one gives me anything to work with sure, but you get used to things not going as planned at times in marketing. So, with that said, if you think someone needs one more link on the web and a few words of love please let me know. Don’t be shy if the product is yours feel free to pass on the link. It doesn’t matter the industry or product, if I need to turn it into a couple posts so be it. As a consumer of knowledge (sometimes trivial) I really just want see what’s out there. You can message me on twitter or email me directly, I look forward to learning more about what is cool to you.