When it comes to social media for business, it’s always been all about the big four—Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and yes, Google+ (even if only for a short time). However, social media is actually one of the most fluid aspects for online marketers, meaning it’s always changing and there are always new opportunities.
While you should continue to keep the major social networks a part of your overall marketing strategy, the new breed of social networking for businesses isn’t slowing down anytime soon. If you’re looking for something new to dive into this year and bring your efforts to the next level, understanding these “new breeds” is crucial.
Top New Social Networking Options for Businesses
So the reason we call these a “new breed” is not only because they are newer options, but also because they all fall into a similar category, particularly a focus on video and engagement. While the older social networks might be considered a “breed” of places for connections or a “breed” of places for sharing, the new “breed” is all about creation and creativity within a social community, namely live chats and live streaming. They focus on giving users the ability to learn on-the-go and through video.
This is a little bit easier to understand once you check out some of the new networks out there. Consider some of the best and how they work below:
This network was actually purchased by Twitter back in February 2015 before it even launched, and it works like your own broadcasting station. The whole idea of this network is that a business will publish on-the-go broadcasts that anyone can join, and then they can comment live and share your station to any of their social accounts. Even after the broadcast is over, Periscope keeps it on the website for 24 hours so that people can comment and get involved. They really market this as a cool way to hear from around the world, so if you have an international audience this may be a great option. Below is a screenshot from the Periscope website:
As the one who starts the broadcast, it will automatically be saved to your phone so that you can feel free to republish it online or on your other social accounts. The app is totally free, so it’s a great option to try and see if you can start building a following. To be most successful as a business user, consider interacting with other company broadcasts to help jumpstart your own channel, create brand release or how-to broadcasts, or use it like you would a podcast.
Meerkat is currently only available to iOS users, which is a downside so far, but we’ve been promised Android users are next. Regardless, this is another live streaming app, but this one will allow you to find live streams from people you follow on Twitter as well as notify people that you’ve scheduled a stream from your company that they can tune into later. Users can see suggestions of other live streams based on their Twitter followers, so it’s very intertwined with social media. Below is a screenshot from a Social Media Examiner article that shows how easy it is to click on those involved in your live stream and connect with them on social media:
The biggest negative to Meerkat is that it’s tough to browse, which is a big reason businesses are saying they see more success with Periscope. You therefore really have to make sure that you’re letting your followers know that you’ve scheduled a live stream if you want to find that success. Nonetheless, your success is still all about your following, so if you have a lot of loyal users who can help spread the word, Meerkat may be an easier interface for you to use.
Very similarly to Periscope, this is a new live chat platform that has social networking features to allow you to connect with your audience on a more direct and personal level because it can work like a webinar. As a user you visit the platform and can join any live chat conversation (called a Blab), which includes Blabs that are scheduled as well Blabs that are live. Only four people can be on camera at one time, but you can still watch the live chat and engage in the conversation by asking questions (left sidebar) or commenting (right sidebar). Below is a screenshot from a HigherVisibility article:
Blab also has a lot of cool features that you’ll discover such as recording the session vs. going off the record, keeping questions and comments separate, connecting with others who are in the chat on social media, and so on. For now it’s only available through Chrome or for iOS users, but more options are to come.
As a small business, this is an excellent way to show off what you know and connect with people along the way. If you plan to host a webinar series, you can start getting followers on Blab and hopefully building up loyal participants. You can then record the webinar and post it on your blog.
So this may be considered a content platform more so than a social media one, but it still allows you to create a following and build a network for yourself so it fits well on this list. Evan Williams and Biz Stone, co-founders of Twitter and Blogger, created this network and helped bring it to over 650,000 users since its launch in 2012. Unlike most of the social networks you’re probably used to, Medium aims to limit the distractions (and it actually works). As a writer you can simply write a piece of content on anything at all, upload, and publish. It’s as simple as that. You will have your own dashboard of posts you’ve written about before, comments you’ve made on other stories, and many more features you’ll start to see as you use the network.
As a small business, the best way to utilize Medium is to create what’s called a publication. You not only start writing your own content, but you create a publication that people can visit to see other stories that are similar. As the editor of a publication you get to choose which authors and what articles are included, but the more you can build your following the better. Below is an example screenshot of a publication:
The more you can start to build a solid publication, the more visibility you will earn, the more you will be able to show your expertise to a targeted audience, and the more social shares you will earn as a whole. As you can see above, you can include a link to your website at the top of your publication. It will take some time, but with 650k users Medium really gives you the opportunity to build something great.
Extra: A Few Honorable Mentions
So there are still a lot of social networks out there that don’t necessarily fall under the Big Four, but they are popular enough that they didn’t make the cut. Networks such as Slideshare, Quora, BizSugar, Instagram, YouTube (of course) and Pinterest are all great options and what I would call Step #2 in your social networking journey as a small business. Check out this article to learn about even more ideas from social experts themselves.
Ultimately the most important thing to continue to remember about social media marketing is the importance of being able to manage all of your accounts. In other words, it’s not a good idea to get started with all of the new networks in the list above (especially since they are all so similar). Check out several of your options, see where your audience is most active and what would be most beneficial for your business, and then go full force into one or two. Make sure you have someone dedicated to managing your accounts and tracking Analytics. If you’re not successful, then delete your account and move on to something new.
Is there anything you would add to the list above? What do you consider to be the “new breed” of social networking? Let us know your story and your thoughts in the comment section below.