It is a truth universally acknowledged that a marketer in possession of a good creativity must be in want of a new social media platform.
Ok, that was a bit of a reach for that opening line, but all you Austen fans are happy I tried. And anyway, it’s true.
We’ve all been using Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube for so long, they’re really starting to get mundane. So what is cutting edge and the future of the social media marketing world?
Well, allow my crystal ball (and hours of research) to give you the answer!
Here I have put together a list of six up and coming social media outlets and apps, how to use them, and how they can help your marketing endeavors. Each have their particular niche and may just be the outlet that you and your company are looking for to expand your reach to a great new target market.
Medium is an open blogging platform, created by Evan Williams, the co-founder of Twitter and Blogger. Anyone with a pre-existing Facebook or Twitter account can create a Medium account. Evan Williams describes it as a place for “little stories that make your day better and manifestos that change the world.” Medium is also a great place to “find the right audience for whatever you have to say.”
On Medium, posts are organized into collections with different themes such as online marketing, content marketing, and business-strategy-vision and a variety of others. Users follow collections, rather than specific users. This is extremely helpful for marketers because it guarantees exposure.
Medium offers two ways of organizing stories: latest and trending. Trending stories are determined by the amount of recommendations (similar to Facebook Likes) per story. The most recommended story appears at the top of the pile. As the majority of content consumption continues to move towards general outlets it is important to create content not only for your website, but for a broader audience as well.
- More people (not just your followers) will be exposed to your content through relevant collections.
- Users who read your content will actually be interested in it because it’s showing up in a topic they’re passionate about.
In Short: Medium is definitely a great place for content marketers to share their blog posts and other content. It’s not going to be a place that ever contends with Youtube’s advertising power, but it’s definitely a platform that’s worth having a presence on.
If you can get Snapchat to work for your company, it will work incredibly, but it getting it to work is not easy. As yet, only B2C marketing campaigns have found success with Snapchat; few B2Bers have even started to think about it as a viable marketing channel.
Snapchat is a social media app that allows friends to share pictures and videos that last up to ten seconds and then are deleted. You can share these photos directly to your friends, or post to your “story” where the Snapchat remains accessible for 24 hours. Each photo is allowed a typed caption of 31 characters. In addition, it has a feature that allows for you to color on the photo. It is currently popular amongst teens and young adults.
Using Snapchat as a marketing channel is challenging because this is perhaps the most private of the social media platforms. A few B2C companies have seen some serious success with this, though, so let me share their strategies with you.
16 Handles, a frozen yogurt shop with a great name, asked customers to take a snap of themselves tasting their yogurt in the store and then to send it to the company’s Snapchat handle. From there, the company would snap them back with a coupon for them to open when they were ready to pay. This was a really creative way to get customers to add them as friends. Now 16 Handles is able to update their story and send snaps to individuals to build brand awareness, loyalty, and to bring customers right to the store. A coupon that only lasts 24 hours (the length of time snaps are accessible in a user’s “story”) is almost guaranteed to convert customers in a short amount of time.
LACMA Museum is also a great example of a company that’s doing a really good job with Snapchat. They frequently upload hilarious photos of the artwork in their gallery with sassy captions that reference pop culture. The snaps are so funny, they were recently featured on Buzzfeed.
Finally, Snapchat began experimenting with a new feature this summer that allows for mass group sharing. They tested it first with World Cup 2014 and more recently with Electric Zoo. Snapchat created two accounts that functioned essentially as hashtags: users sent snaps of the events to the accounts and then Snapchat made them appear on every user’s feed.
Snapchat marketing campaigns can be difficult to target, especially if you’re B2B. However, Snapchat doesn’t want to remain unfriendly to advertisers. There’s a lot of money to be made in social media advertising and the experiments in mass group sharing represent Snapchat’s first moves into broader advertising campaigns.
Furthermore, Snapchat is the most private and personal of the social media networks. This translates to highly engaged users who actually watch all the stories posted in their feed.
In Short: Snapchat is ideally suited for B2C businesses targeting teens and young adults. That said, B2B marketers should keep an eye on Snapchat because the team is working on ways to make it viable to all advertisers. In a year or two, this could be a platform that rivals Facebook and Twitter.
Update: Just this week (September 10, 2014), Snapchat ran two more group shares – Cupertino Live (following the Apple conference) and Fashion Week in NYC. These stories are allowing people around the world to take part in events they aren’t even attending and it’s really exciting. Follow the link for more information on this new marketing possibility!
Quora is a question and answer forum that reaches people in all fields of interest. Users can post questions and answer others’ questions. Answers get up-voted or down-voted by other users to determine which answers are best, and users can also follow individual experts and topics.
Here’s a few things marketers like about Quora:
- Quora is a great place to establish your company as an expert in your field by writing informative answers.
- Quora allows you to check out other experts in your industry and keep up with the competition.
- Quora gives you the opportunity to connect with other experts directly to build relationships and network.
Topics such as technology, science, business, and literature are the most followed by Quora users.
Full, helpful answers are always the best. Answers that are backed by different resources are also valued (and voted) higher. As the quality of your answers is recognized, you have the opportunity to increase your followers and in turn your reach. To make sure that your answer is reaching the right audience, you can add tags to the question you are answering.
In short: Quora is a beneficial outlet for a company who has time to share knowledge of their field in a targeted manner through answering questions. This can help to set you apart as a thought leader and increase your networking opportunities, but will take you more time than just posting something like a Tweet.
4. We Heart It
We Heart It is a picture sharing forum similar to Pinterest. Like Pinterest, you can follow collections, create sets (“boards” on Pinterests), and “heart” pictures (i.e. “pin” them). Collections range from marketing to summer fashion to fitness and everything in-between.
The main differences between Pinterest and We Heart It are the audiences and the ability We Heart It has to search for similar images.
This difference in audiences is an important one for marketers.
We Heart It is a great platform for companies catering to adolescent and young women, particularly in things like clothing. Pinterest is a broader ranging platform for almost any company who has a product that works well on a visual medium. It is likely that a marketer who uses We Heart It would also want to be on Pinterest.
We Heart It provides a great outlet to show off your products. Post artsy pictures of your product, pictures of people using your products, pictures that show the inspiration behind your products, or anything else you can think of. Teen Vogue magazine in particular has taken advantage of We Heart It. They have several canvases on fashion and celebrities while also having one with their monthly magazine covers.
In short: We Heart It is best for companies that have great visuals and a creative mind for sharing stories and marketing through picture collections with a young female audience.
Chirp is an app that allows you to share information (pictures, text, a web page) with any other phone within hearing range. Essentially, you choose the info that you want to send and press a big yellow button. Your phone then emits a chirping noise and any phone within hearing range of the sound that has the app open will receive your data onto their phone. It’s ingenious because you can actually chirp the noise through a loudspeaker, radio, or television and then an even larger audience can receive the message.
Chirp has some really intriguing marketing potential. A restaurant can send out chirps of pictures of their food with promotional coupons or daily deals to try and bring in people walking by. It can be used over a loudspeaker to organize crowds at events. (TopShop actually used this method a year ago at 2013 London fashion week with great success). A chirp can be sent over the radio or TV as a type of audible QR code to give listeners coupons, enroll them in contests, and inform them of deals.
That said, Chirp requires that the app be open in order for a phone to receive the incoming data. Any marketing message using Chirp will have to be prefaced by a request to open the app first. QR codes have a leg up on Chirp in this department for instance, because they are not time-dependent.
In short: Chirp has the potential to become a VERY powerful marketing channel. A lot of people are convinced that Chirp has discovered the future of not just social networking, but also of device communication period. But beware of the platform’s current limitations.
So that’s my round-up. All of these platforms are worth looking into for a marketer.
Know of other social media platforms that would be great for marketing? Leave a comment below and let me know!
Editor’s Note: This post originally included a section about the platform Sulia. However, since the publication of this post, Sulia has gone under.