As social media becomes further integrated into daily life, many businesses are coming to us for advice and guidance. One thing we always say ‘it’s not just about Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, although these can be brilliant for engagement with consumers, it’s important to consider what platforms the target market are using. It can take some lengthy research and often businesses are surprised with what platforms people are using to communicate with each other regarding products and services.
Remember social media is a technology that allows individuals to share opinions, interests and build communities. Social media therefore, is not just about the obvious platforms, there are some 500 platforms globally, a huge number and whilst a majority of UK businesses can disregard many of them, perhaps it’s worth noting what constitutes as social media.
- Social networks
- Pictures / photographs
- Rating and Social bookmarking
The many types of social media can be broken down into five categories:
- Microblogging , Blogging & Forums: Often Twitter is seen as the most prominent microblogging platform and this is correct but there has been arguments that just as you write a Facebook status or write a description of an image on Pinterest , these too are a type of microblog. Blogging platforms vary from WordPress which is generally seen as the best blogging platform for ease of use and personalisation, Blogger, HubSpot and Jux. Blogging is a manner of sharing information, educating, practicing freedom of speech and often used as a diary by many individuals. Forums are commonly associated with this category due to the nature of communication within them, but it is worth noting that generally speaking, forums were around prior to this type of social media.
- Collective projects: These are generally platforms like Wikipedia where a number of individuals come together to create something to share, educate, entertain or broadcast.
- Social Networks: The most common associated form and what many individuals see as the definition of social media, they include Facebook, MySpace, Google + and many more. Predominantly used to communicate with friends and family, most have grown to include businesses, music and groups of those with similar interests.
- Content Communities: This class of social media is principally that of YouTube, Pinterest, Flickr and Instagram. Images, opinions, videos and links are shared to engage with others with analogous interests.
- Virtual Gaming and Virtual Worlds: Think World of War Craft, Sims, Marapets , these are just scratching the surface of virtual realities available. Seen as escapism from reality they are used to build separate communities away from day to day to life and are a chance to create an alternative reality of that persons choosing. Some brands have used these virtual worlds to promote their products, generally those in the food and drinks industry. An inventive way of communicating with individuals that may not necessarily know of these products away from this reality, I’m sure you’d agree.
When choosing the best method of communicating to your audience you must consider these five categories and fully research the most effective way to do so. Don’t just jump on the band wagon and assume that what works for another business will work for you. This is often not the case and can in fact be detrimental to what you wish to achieve and how individuals and communities perceive your brand.
Think, Research, Discover, Create, Engage and Listen and your business will soon have a flourishing social media presence within your industry and consumer communities.
Brand Engagement Using Social Media:
One example of a brand thinking, researching, discovering, creating and engaging with their consumer communities is Coca-Cola. They are always at the forefront of brand engagement and pioneers in social media. The ad below is an example of their ability to create an innovative, emotive and touching campaign. It will no doubt, drive true consumer engagement, that contributes to a wider social message but also promotes their products. This ad will be shared, liked and create online conversation, as it already has on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and now this Blog.