As part of creating a social media strategy with any client, it's imperative that at least some of our discussion revolves around the tools and technology - namely which social platforms are best suited for their business needs. While most people gravitate toward the Big Four - Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+, there are many lesser-known social networking sites that should also be considered when creating a social media presence. Depending on your niche market, some of these lesser-known sites can take your online reach much farther then the traditional sites. Below are four lesser-known sites that can provide your business with an incredible online presence:
- Pinterest: An online inboard used to organize and share your inspirations. You can "Pin" your favorite images and videos using a bookmarklet in your browser or take a picture with their Pinterest iPhone app and then categorize the image. You can then create and manage theme-based collections of what you find interesting. You can browse pinboards created by others and connect with people who share your interest. Pinterest is a fabulous tool for event planners, realtors, photographers, contractors and those in visual-based selling. It's a great way to highlight new products, connect with those in your community and increase your influence and visibility.
- Quora: This site allows you to gain followers and follow users, but you can also follow questions and/or topics. If you have a question, you can type it into Quora and users following the topic can post answers. Each reader has a profile so you can decide whether or not an answer is valid based on the responder's experience. This is great for businesses because it allows them to share their expert knowledge. If consumers see that your company is continually answering all of these great questions, you will instantly gain credibility amongst whoever is following that question.
- Yelp: Yelp is a great tool for local businesses and restaurants. It aims to combine social networking with community-generated reviews to create a local online community. Online since 2004, Yelp helps people find and share the best (and worst) of businesses, like dentists, restaurants and mechanics. As a business owner, Yelp is a great way to build exposure of your business, monitor public opinion of your brand and research what the community is looking for. Members can review, critique, praise and make suggestions about your business. You can post discounts and announcements and create events. Be careful, however, about soliciting good reviews. If a customer has something good to say, they will. It is also important to monitor your Brand on Yelp to respond (if necessary) to bad reviews or comments. Be open, be honest and be responsive. We all make mistakes - we just need to take the responsibility to fix them.
- SlideShare: is a community for sharing presentations. With over 60 million visitors a month, Slideshare allows you to upload PowerPoint or related presentations and share them publicly. You can also search through the site to find presentations on your topic of interest. Users can tag presentation, and download or embed them into their own websites or blogs. Users can also share their documents privately. SlideShare lets its users to join groups to connect with other members who share similar interests. Business presentations make the most of the content. SlideShare also has a facebook application for uploading documents.
As a business owner, the most important thing to remember before setting up your profile, claiming your local business, posing questions or uploading presentations, is to learn the etiquette of these niche social platforms. Members of these communities will likely not respond well to direct advertising messages so take the time to learn how to interact with the members. As with all social media networking sites, participation should be transparent, consistent and authentic. When used correctly, all are great tools to increase Brand loyalty and generate awareness.