When it comes to social media, the big four – Facebook, Twitter and to a lesser extent LinkedIn and Google+ – seem to get all the attention. They’re certainly the quickest way to reach larger, more broad audiences, but the younger stars of the social media scene represent a unique opportunity to interact with smaller, more engaged social groups.
Today’s social networks blur the line between web services and traditional social media, often requiring a more creative approach to marketing. Let’s review a handful of popular social channels and how to use them organically to promote your business.
What is it?: This iOS/Android app combines the brevity and ephemerality of text messaging and Twitter with the visual nature of platforms like Instagram and Vine.
With Snapchat, you take a picture or record a short video, add any text, drawings or filters you want, and then send it to as many contacts as you want. The catch is, each ‘snap’ only displays for up to ten seconds. After it’s gone, it’s gone; the only way the recipient can view it again is by saving a screenshot (which will notify the sender) or by using up their once-per-day replay allowance to replay the snap.
You can also add to your Live Story – a chronological queue of snaps from the last 24 hours which can be watched and rewatched any time within those 24 hours by everyone who follows you.
Who uses it?: Snapchat has risen to popularity with a huge teen (predominantly female) audience, and many have put this down to the app’s design philosophy. Whereas traditional social networks foster a culture of ‘storing’ memories and evaluating them with likes and shares (which can lead to embarrassing situations and peer pressure), Snapchat encourages free expression. There’s no tagging, no ‘approval’ metrics and no way to share a snap you didn’t send (within the app, at least).
How can I use it for marketing my business?: The key to marketing success on Snapchat is to embrace the format wholeheartedly. Don’t spend weeks and months planning glossy campaigns – instead, focus on filling your Live Story with entertaining, interesting content from the day-to-day running of your business.
For example, you could ‘liveblog’ the arrival of a new product; from the delivery van’s arrival, to the unboxing, to your first hands-on impressions. Snapchat is great for posting giveaways, discount vouchers and teasers too, with the ‘self-destructing message’ concept helping to create a sense of mystery and exclusivity.
To get followers in the first place, though, you’ll need to promote your Snapchat account through your other marketing channels. Thankfully, each account has an identifying QR code which you can place on your website, social feeds or anywhere you like.
What is it?: Pinterest is effectively the digital equivalent of scrapbooking and mood boards. Users on Pinterest can ‘pin’ any image they come across on the internet (or an image they’ve uploaded themselves) to one of their ‘boards’, and can follow other ‘Pinners’ and/or their boards to see their latest images in their home feed.
If another user has pinned something they like, they can either like it, leave a comment or repin it (similar to retweeting a tweet). You can also follow individual Interests (e.g. food, music, travel etc.) to see pinned content pooled from different users – even if you’re not following them.
Who uses it?: Pinterest tends to attract well-off, 25-34 year old women, and users are often likely to buy the products they’re pinning. DIY, home decor, food, fashion and wedding-related content seems to go down particularly well on Pinterest, so if your business revolves around any of these themes, this is the social network for you.
How can I use it for marketing my business?: If you’re selling visually-attractive products, show them off here! To increase the reach of your pins, make sure they’re searchable by adding suitable keywords, and be sure to create and maintain boards which are relevant to your business.
You should also find the pinners who are pinning and commenting on your images, and reach out to them – follow their boards, answer their questions, and use what inspires them to inspire your own offerings.
What is it?: Reddit is a social bookmarking site where users post all sorts of original and third party content – from personal stories, advice and questions to news links, images, memes and more.
The site is divided into countless user-created ‘subreddits’ based on a multitude of themes – popular subreddits include r/AskReddit (where ‘redditors’ request and share anecdotes), r/aww (where they post cute animal pictures) and r/TodayILearned (where they post surprising facts they’ve learned). Reddit’s frontpage shows an aggregated feed of the ‘top’ stories from the most popular subreddits – users can affect their feed by following subreddits which are relevant to them.
Posts can be ‘upvoted’ or ‘downvoted’ depending on their value and relevance to discussion, and each user has a ‘karma’ score based on the numbers of upvotes and downvotes their posts have received.
Who uses it?: Reddit’s audience is mostly made up of 18 to 35 year old males, and there’s a noticeable skew towards politics, science, gaming and geek culture.
How can I use it for marketing my business?: If you go to Reddit with intention to sell, the community will not take kindly to you. Instead, seek out the smaller niche subreddits which are more relevant to your business, and become a valuable member of their community by contributing to other people’s posts and offering your own impartial advice.
What is it?: This one should be a familiar name to you. Over the past ten years, this Google-owned property has become the internet’s leading video-sharing site, and has opened up the door for a whole generation of full-time content creators.
As well as uploading their own video content, users can also like, share and comment on videos, create playlists, stream live content, check out categories, and measure their channel performance with built-in analytics.
Who uses it?: As you might expect from a mainstream platform with such a diverse range of content, YouTube attracts an equally diverse audience of different ages and genders – however, there’s a strong ‘vlogging’ community (mostly appealing to a teen female audience) and a strong gaming community (mostly attracting young males).
How can I use it for marketing my business?: Like Snapchat, Youtube is arguably less about social interaction and more about creating engaging, interesting content. For example, product demonstrations are great for promoting your wares to new potential customers, while how-to tutorials can help your existing customers get the most out of their purchases.
If creating your own video content sounds like an investment too far, consider partnering up with a popular content creator. Many are willing to work with businesses, as long as they’re a good fit for their viewers.
What is it?: On microblogging platform Tumblr, users blog all kinds of multimedia content, including photos, videos, GIFs, music, memes, quotes and other audiovisual media. The site’s emphasis on hashtags makes sharing easier – people are likely to come across your content no matter how popular your account is.
Again, like Twitter’s retweets, users can ‘reblog’ content they want to feature on their own social feed. You can also like and comment on posts – some of the most entertaining Tumblr moments come from comment chains, with users bouncing off each other.
Who uses it?: Tumblr is home to a predominantly teenage audience, with a noticeably smaller proportion of over 25s than other social networks. It’s often seen as a ‘hipster’ hangout and a place to discuss LGBQT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer, and Transgender/Transsexual) and gender issues.
How can I use it for marketing my business?: Like Reddit, Tumblr is not so receptive to brands, but that doesn’t mean you can’t leverage it effectively for your social marketing. In addition, links posted on Tumblr are dofollow, which means they can carry link juice to boost your search rankings – a stark contrast to other social networks. This makes Tumblr not only a good social tool but also a handy SEO tactic.
There are two ways to approach it. You can either treat your account like a typical blog – Tumblr is actually a serviceable alternative to WordPress – or to engage fully with the social audience, you can go all out with diverse and experimental content (as long as it’s relevant to your brand). Be sure to add hashtags to your own posts and reblog content from other users where appropriate.