The 6,528 Word Guide to Choosing Your Main Social Media Battleground

By Ramsay

A quick list of social media sites: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Reddit, Digg, YouTube, Instagram, Tumblr, Yelp, imgur… oh and your blog, that’s social media too!

Jeez there’s a lot!

So which one do you focus on?

Or, like me, perhaps you prefer to crawl up into a tiny ball in the corner of your office and rock back and forwards while listening to the “ding!” and “pop!” of the constant stream of social networking notifications emanating from your computer.

Is it all too damn hard?

Well, it can be if you don’t have a clearly defined social media strategy. If you’re not careful you will spend all your time checking these needy sites for updates only to realize that you aren’t actually creating anything valuable or doing anything productive.

In this post I’m going to talk about my own thoughts on this matter as well as sharing a few interesting facts and figures about where you might want to spend your social media time.

HONESTY TEST: Leave a comment now telling me where you focus your social media efforts and then read the post and see if you have changed your mind. I’m very interested to know who has thought their strategies through.

The uncompromising base for all your online activities

Let’s get something straight right from the beginning: the focus of all your online activities should be your blog or website.

People like Brian Clark have been saying it for years.

You see the whole point of a social networking site (for a business) is to increase traffic, engagement and sales for that business.

We’re not posting every 30 seconds to Twitter because we want more followers, unless those followers do something for your blog. We’re not uploading images to Pinterest because we really want Pinterest to succeed – they’re doing okay.

The whole point is to grow your asset.

But even that get’s confusing!

Why?

Well, a lot of bloggers seem to focus on growing an email list or getting more comments or getting more traffic. But those things are also completely useless unless they are making money.

Of course this stuff only applies to people who are using their blog as a means to make some sort of income. Not everyone is. But if you are, you need to remember that the whole blogging and social media thing is a means to an end.

So which social networking site should I use? Should you be everywhere?

Now that I’ve got the “focus on your blog!” rant out of my system we can go on and talk about how to determine which social networking site is best suited to your particular needs and aspirations.

And that is a very important point: there is a big difference between all these social media sites and the way people use them.

A furniture store will not get the same returns from Reddit as they would from a successful Pinterest account. Likewise, a local pizza shop would be better off with a healthy dose of Yelp and Google+ reviews than a super popular pizza-based Pinterest page.

Pat Flynn has become quite famous for the catch phrase “be everywhere” but is that a realistic expectation for bloggers and small businesses who don’t have unlimited time and resources?

And how do you know which one to focus on?

Well, there are a few things to think about first:

  • What are you trying to achieve?
    It’s surprising how many businesses have no idea what results they want from their social media budgets. It’s important to know where you want your social media traffic to go and what the end result will be.
  • What are your strengths?
    Not everyone has a Canon 10D SLR camera with 15 years of photography experience. The person who does will do really well on Pinterest because they love photos over there. You need to know what you’re good at.
  • What is your target market?
    When people say “target market” they are usually talking about a demographic like age, sex, marital status, etc. I’m more talking about the “type” of user that you want to go after. For example, do you want people who regularly leave reviews or people that share photos?
  • Do you have the staff power?
    Some social networks demand a lot of constant attention. For example, if you have a big Facebook presence and you are a relatively large company you’ll want to make sure there are enough people addressing complaints. If left too long without a response those people can get vicious!
  • What is your budget?
    One thing that a lot of small businesses and bloggers forget is that social networking costs money, even if you aren’t doing a paid advertising campaign. Why? Because it is time you are spending there instead of on actual product development. Business owners often don’t understand that you are effectively still paid for your time.
  • What is trending?
    If you spend enough time online you start to notice trends. This is both a good and bad thing in terms of where you should focus your energies. Trends can drive a lot of traffic but also die off quickly and can end up being a waste of time and money. Identifying value for time/money and the trend is very important.
  • What is working?
    The last point I want to mention here is that, as simple as it might sound, you need to measure what is working as you go along. You’re not going to know which site is the best fit for your business until you have a go and see what happens.

Once you have thought about those preliminary things you can start to assess what kind of a social media player you might want to become.

Should I use one at the expense of all others?

I don’t want you to get the impression that you should be focusing on one social networking site at the expense of all others. That’s not wise.

What I am trying to get across, though, is that some social media outlets are better for some kinds of businesses. And some businesses only have limited amounts of time/money to throw at this stuff so it’s important to know what you’re up against.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some information that might help you make a more calculated decision.

Google+ (a.k.a. G+, Google Plus)

A description of Google+

Dubbed the “Facebook killer” because Google needed to come up with a solution that was so comprehensive that it became essential to use to help to stave off Facebook’s social domination. Google+ integrates all of your Google services into one social networking platform that is now intimately linked with SEO and personal branding.

A screen grab of your photo in Google search results after you have set up Google Authorship – a must for SEO.

Local search is now intimately linked with G+. Users can review your business, check in to locations and search results will be different depending on what your friends recommend.

Google Hangouts are video conferences that can be held between you and your various circles.

Google Communities are gatherings of people around niche topics. A good place to grow authority and renown.

The main users of this social network

Around 71% of Google+’s 500 million users are male between 25 and 34. It seems the most active types are business owners, bloggers, writers, technology sectors, individuals growing a personal profile, photographers, etc.

The main features of Google+

This is an extremely feature-rich platform that has many huge advantages for publishers, bloggers and small business owners. The main features of Google+ include:

  • Circles -
    Following people on G+ is called Circling. You put people into different circles that you create based on how you might interact with them in real life. For example, you might put me in a “Blogging” circle or a “Jerks” circle. You then see updates from people you’ve circled on your homepage.
  • Hangouts
    A massive feature of G+ is the ability to do video hangouts, much like a webinar. This is a great community building function that has even been used by the Australian Prime Minister and other high profile people.
  • Communities
    Interested in landscape photography? Start a community about it or join one that already exists. Great hubs that form an integral learning base.
  • Google Authorship
    One of the most important features of the whole deal. This is where you link your Google+ profile to any website/blog content that you’ve written in order to get your photo to appear in Google’s search results.
  • Pages
    After much user backlash, Google+ finally launched a Pages feature much like the way Facebook Pages work. These still don’t seem to be a very popular part of the site, however, as it is much more focused on the “person” running the account.
  • Complete Google service integration
    Unlike a standalone social networking site like Twitter, Google+ integrates with all your other Google services. Gmail, YouTube, Local, etc. are all now connected with this social device. You’ll see different search results based on what your Circled friends are talking about, etc.

The Advantages of Google+

Google+ is still relatively new and as such people are still “feeling it out”. That said, there are already some huge advantages to this social networking platform.

  • Personal brand growth
    As Google+ is focused on individuals you have an opportunity to grow a really strong personal brand that you can then apply to your various business projects.
  • SEO integral
    People on Google+ are already reporting many search engine optimization advantages. For example, having your profile picture appear in Google search results dramatically increases click through rates. Many SEOs are predicting a much higher weighting for active G+ users in the near future.
  • Grow a broad authority
    As Google+ is integrated with your local restaurant reviews, YouTube channel, etc. you have the opportunity to create a really broad sense of authority and trust.
  • Reach
    Google+ is now the second largest social network in the world behind Facebook. This is largely part to the huge swaths of Android mobile devices being sold but what it means is that there is a large and active community for you to reach and connect with. Many people are reporting better conversion rates than other social networks too.

The Disadvantages of Google+

As with every social network there are some pretty glaring disadvantages. The main ones are:

  • Extremely complicated sign up
    Many people report that they find the sign up, activation and navigation of the site extremely complicated (slightly simpler on the app). It’s difficult to understand what exactly G+ does until you’re inside it making mistakes.
  • Huge amount of settings
    Many tech-heads love this but a lot of mom and pop users hate it. The sheer number of setting is mind-boggling, especially because you’re talking about all your Google services, not just one social network.
  • Pushy, pushy, pushy
    I’ve heard so many people complain that they are sick of Google+ encouraging them to sign up or, once signed up, encouraging them to change their user names on other Google sites to match their G+ profile.
  • Privacy concerns
    Although I personally don’t buy into this, many people suggest that Google has too much information with our social activities being linked to emails, YouTube, local places, etc. I’ve heard of people staying away from G+ just because they want to retain some sense of privacy.

How should you use it?

As I’ve said before, Google+ is not an optional network if you want to succeed on any of Google’s platforms, particularly organic search results. If you have a physical business location you’ll need to make sure you’re letting your customers know they can leave positive reviews on Places and you’ll want to ensure Google Authorship is set up for any content marketing that you do. Join communities, share people’s content that is relevant to your own niche and become a “power-hub” for that industry. It appears that the more weight you have on G+ the more you’ll be able to organically rank an article or website.

Facebook Pages

Description of Facebook Pages

If you are using a personal Profile to grow a business you’re in the wrong place (according to the TOS). Facebook Pages are Facebook’s place to promote a business, community or create a fan base. These pages are controlled by moderators and allow you to create galleries, location-based checkins, contact details, posts, etc. People “like” your page or business and then interact with you by sharing, commenting or liking your updates and posts. There is also a paid promotion option.

Detailed statistics are one of the best features of Facebook Pages for businesses.

Porsche use beautiful photos and sneak-preview content to get massive brand awareness.

The main users of Facebook Pages

The major advantage of Facebook is the sheer diversity and size of the user base. Men, women and children (over age 14). Over 2/3rds of online adults say that they are on Facebook. Paid advert campaigns can be targeted towards specific demographics such as marriage status, city, etc.

The main features of Facebook Pages

Facebook Pages are an ever-changing and updating phenomena but the main features are:

  • Galleries
    Photos are big on Facebook. Creating neat and well structured photo galleries of your products or related content can get a lot of shares and exposure.
  • Status updates
    Once a way to connect with a large portion of your users, these days Edge Rank means that your text updates are seen by less of your fans and followers than before. Perhaps a reason for less business interest.
  • Paid promotion
    You can now pay to promote your content if you want it to be seen by more of your fans or non-fans.
  • Multiple moderators
    You can add several people to help you moderate the page. It is, in fact, a good idea because if you lose your personal account you can then maintain your Page.
  • Apps
    You can develop or use certain apps to help change the functionality of your page, add different features under the header bar, etc.
  • Invite friends
    Facebook Pages makes it pretty easy to invite your friends to any new page that you create. This can help small businesses get started quicker.
  • Sharing
    People can share your content with their personal friends such that anything you post can potentially be seen by thousands of people that don’t actually follow your Page.

The main advantages of Facebook Pages:

There are a lot of people who claim that they get some very good results from Facebook Pages. Some of the main benefits include:

  • Viral potential
    If you know what your posting and have the right people following you there is a good chance you can send something viral. The sharing and re-sharing is extremely potent.
  • Connection
    People are on Facebook all day long so it’s a good place to connect with your existing users and develop the relationship further.
  • Surveying
    It can be a very good method of surveying readers or customers to get feedback about the process.
  • Increasing visibility
    People can check-in at your physical business location or store which can be great if you are a cafe or bar or somewhere that people want to be seen. All their friends see that they’re at your store.

The disadvantages of Facebook Pages

Although a lot of people have been raving about Facebook Pages there are also some pretty big critics. Some of the main criticism include:

  • Constant changes
    Many big businesses have commented that it’s too risky to invest large amounts of money into Facebook now because it isn’t certain what access they’ll have to their followers in the future.
  • Viral problems
    Just like the viral content can help your business it can also harm it. We’ve all seen the posts where someone has made a complaint about something and it’s been re-shared 10,000 times around the world. Be careful.
  • Edge Rank
    While Edge Rank is a necessary evil, it is still really annoying. It means that you spend time and money getting followers and then those followers aren’t guaranteed to see your updates.
  • Privacy concerns
    Critics of Facebook have long been saying that they gather too much information about users. While this may apply to personal accounts more than Pages it is still something to be wary of if you are worried about it.
  • Ownership
    Who owns the content that you post on Facebook Pages once you put it on there?
  • Actual conversions
    There have been some interesting studies come out lately into how effective Facebook campaigns based around pages actually are. It seems that perhaps people on FB are willing to interact with and share content but not buy it.

How should you use it?

I’m toning down my use of Facebook Pages. It still has high interaction for some niches but the constant changes and requirement of paying to reach users that you’ve already acquired is frustrating. It is a good medium for creating better relationships with existing customers but I question the idea that Facebook users are in a buy-ready mindset. Unfortunately, people expect you to be on Facebook if you are a business but the level of investment you make will depend on your own testing.

Use strategies like adding shareable content like photos, stories and memes as opposed to focusing on direct sales tactics. Use Facebook as a means to be seen as more human and in-touch.

Pinterest

Description of Pinterest

Pinterest is like any other social network (actually, a lot like the social bookmarking sites below) except that it is all based around the sharing of photos and videos and less about the people or the business. You organize photos by categories called “boards” and then repin other people’s photos into your relevant boards.

A Pinterest board I created where I post motivational quotes on photos that I’ve taken.

The main users of Pinterest

The experts tell us that 83% of Pinterest users are women from good income families between the ages of 35 and 50.

Main features of Pinterest

Pinterest has taken off almost unlike any other social network. The user base size and ability to drive traffic to websites has made Pinterest a serious consideration for many businesses. The main features include:

  • Pin photos
    The main gist of the site is pinning photos. You can pin them from sites where you find them or you can upload your own photos straight to your account.
  • Repin stuff
    You then repin the pins of the people you are following into your own boards. If you curate the content well enough people might think you’re a good person to follow.
  • Follow boards
    As mentioned, the photos are organized into boards and you can follow certain boards about certain things or follow the person who published the board.

The main advantages of Pinterest

This site hasn’t got this much attention for no reason. Some of the main advantages of Pinterest include:

  • Big traffic
    Pinterest is reported to drive more traffic than Google+ and YouTube combined which makes it a site you probably shouldn’t ignore.
  • Get your products exposed worldwide –
    Imagine you own a business that sells some really beautiful products. You can get those products photographed well and then create boards by pinning those photos off of your website. If they get repinned by big users you can get seen all over the world.
  • Become a topic authority –
    If you run an antique store, for example, you might create antique boards and pin content as a means to position yourself as an expert in the field. Occasional sprinkles of your own products then send you a lot of traffic.
  • Build backlinks -
    Backlinks are really important for your SEO rankings. If you put photos on your website and then people pin those photos you get a link back to the original website page.

The main disadvantages of Pinterest

As always, there are a few downers. Some of the main concerns people have about Pinterest include:

  • Photogenic businesses only
    Although Pinterest experts will say that anyone can find the right content to Pin, a lot of people complain that unless your business has some good photos to put up there’s not much you can do there. For example, an accounting firm might find it a bit limiting.
  • Unresponsive
    Again, a lot of people will tell you the opposite of this but some users find that the site can be full of people pinning and creating boards but not really interacting with other people in a real way. Pinterest does drive sales, but not for every topic.

How should you use it?

Let me start this section by saying that my friend Jamie has written the best post ever on Pinterest over on ProBlogger. That is a good place to start. If you have a business that lends itself to photos, videos or quotes then you’d do well to get on Pinterest and start creating boards around your niche. Pin your own stuff from your blog and then re-pin lots of other relevant content from people that you follow.

Twitter

Description of Twitter:

Twitter is a micro-blogging service where you can send out Tweets of 140 characters or less. People only see those Tweets if they are following you. It is the third largest social network in the world and has global reach and has the potential to be the most “live and up to date” source of news.

My Twitter profile page that shows images I’ve uploaded, my latest Tweets and the cover image.

The main features of Twitter:

Twitter is extremely simple in its functionality – so much so that beginners often struggle to “get it”. The main features of the platform are:

  • Short messages (tweets)
    Messages are capped at 140 characters so you have to be creative with how you communicate.
  • Following
    Twitter is all about following people you are interested in. You then see a stream of all your followers’ updates. People often “follow back” when you follow them as a thank you.
  • Ability to re-tweet
    If someone says something that you agree with you can re-tweet their original tweet which then spreads the news to your followers. This can drive huge amounts of traffic if you have a loyal and interested following.
  • Direct messaging
    If two people are following each other you can direct message each other which is Twitter’s version of a private message.
  • Mobile friendly
    Twitter is possibly the most mobile friendly social network and many people use it on the move to tweet about their daily activities. It also played a large role in the Arab Spring to mobilize people to certain locations in short spaces of time.

The main advantages of Twitter:

Twitter has an extremely vocal and loyal group of supporters and “experts” who believe it is the most effective network for building a client base, developing relationships and finding new customers. The main advantages of Twitter include:

  • Active users
    A lot of people find that Twitter users are more active than other social media sites. For example, if you Tweet about a blog post you might get quite a few re-tweets from your followers.
  • Faster interaction
    People leave their Twitter window open all day so you often find replies are extremely fast. This can be a great way to develop a relationship or stay on top of industry news.
  • Public tech-support
    As a consumer/customer you often get extremely good tech support on Twitter because companies don’t want public complaints to go viral or be seen to remain unaddressed. Tell your phone company about bad coverage and they will reply within minutes.
  • Visibility
    Due to the fact that re-tweeting is embedded in the Twitter culture you often find that even new accounts can get traction and visibility to their tweets early on and without many followers. For example, you may only have five followers but if one of those five has 100,000 followers and re-tweets your content you have an audience of 100,005.
  • Broad user base
    Twitter is used by people of all ages and categories and as such it is quite easy to tap into at least some people who are interested in your niche.
  • B2B is strong
    A lot of users comment that the main advantage of using Twitter is interacting with other people in your industry. It can be a great way to tee up new relationships or partnership.

The main disadvantages of Twitter:

Interestingly, the main advantages of Twitter also sometimes become the main disadvantages. For example:

  • Public re-tweets
    If you write something slanderous or offensive in the heat of battle and it gets re-tweeted that message is out to thousands of people before you know what to do. People have been sued for libel.
  • Public shaming
    If you run a company that has poor tech-support you can expect people to be vocal on Twitter – especially if you want to have a Twitter account for the company itself. If you want to do business on Twitter you need to address the good and the bad.
  • Bot accounts and faking
    Quite a few people have noted in recent months that Twitter is being overrun with fake accounts, bots and spam. This means that those 20,000 followers that you have might actually only be a few thousand “real” people. Some studies have even shown that over 50% of people with accounts don’t use them.
  • A lot of noise
    Stats can be deceiving. Many users have noted that Twitter seems to be very active but it’s often just people up on a soapbox and not interacting in a meaningful way.

How should you use it?

Twitter has become the “go-to” social network for many businesses and groups of people from around the world. It is such a fast paced medium which lends itself really well to news items as well as complaints or tech-support. Use Twitter to grow your authority in your topic by promoting other people’s content – this will, in turn, lead to you being promoted as an authority. Follow relevant people in your niche and talk to them. Reply to Tweets, especially negative ones.

YouTube

Description of YouTube:

Not everyone would consider YouTube a social networking site but it serves the same purposes, especially for people looking to build a new audience or drive traffic towards a website. With over 4 billion views a day, people upload videos of different kinds, subscribe to channels and share on other social networks.

The main features of YouTube:

The main things that you need to know about what you can do on YouTube include:

  • Upload videos
    Obviously the main purpose of YouTube is to upload video content in order to grow an audience.
  • Subscribe to channels
    Subscribe to other people’s channels in order to make contacts and keep up to date with people who might be interesting to your business.
  • Comment on videos
    The main social activity of YouTube is to comment on various videos. Be warned, there is a huge amount of spam.
  • Embed videos
    Once you have uploaded a video (or found one you like) you can then embed that video on your website or blog in order to provide a variety of content to your readers. This makes it a good hosting option.
  • Promote your videos
    YouTube gives you many ways to promote your content. For example, you can do paid promotion through Google’s Adwords program or you can use your other videos to show new content that you’ve posted.

The main advantages of YouTube

There are a lot of really good things about this site, especially for people who have interesting ideas that may not always be well communicated with the written word.

  • Huge traffic
    As mentioned, YouTube gets 4 billion views a day. There is a large and very global user base to tap into which is very important if your product is digital or shippable.
  • Very sticky
    Sticky is a term web marketers use to describe sites where people click around and spend a lot of time. People don’t just watch one video – they look at the channel, view related videos and spend a lot of time down the rabbit hole.
  • High quality content
    Videos give you an opportunity to create very high quality content on a network where people can help you do the marketing. As Pat Flynn always says, be everywhere.
  • Relationship developing
    If you do “talking head” videos you have an opportunity to create a deeper relationship and more trust with your readers or customers. People love to know the person behind the brand.

The main disadvantages of YouTube

Here we go with the bad stuff, again:

  • A lot of spam
    I am always really surprised at how much spam gets onto YouTube considering it is owned by Google. The comments on some popular videos are just full of link based advertising.
  • Faceless negativity
    For some reason YouTube seems to attract a lot of faceless negativity. People will leave horrible and hurtful comments on wide range of video niches. These do get voted down by the community but continue to appear.
  • A lot of noise
    Again, YouTube is extremely popular so it is difficult to cut through the noise and get your message out there. It is, as always, good to have an email list that you can promote new videos to and get help with the content spreading.
  • A strange “featured content” system
    Popular YouTube users like Phillip DeFranco have noted that the new system of selected featured and popular content makes it very difficult for non-established users to hit the front page. This, again, can make it hard to cut through.

How should you use it?

I recommend only using YouTube if you have money to invest in quality content. Whether that is a charasmatic staff member (or actor) who can do educational videos or by paying a company to create animated or instructional videos that might help position you as an authority. Simple works best. You’ll get more traction on a quality “How to Make a Cake” video than you will on something complicated with a narrow appeal. Learn from the top subscribed accounts.

Bookmarking sites (Reddit, Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon, etc.)

Description of the bookmarking sites

This part was a little difficult for me because I couldn’t decide whether to write about them individually or lump them into one group. When I really thought about it, however, I realized that the functionality, features and benefits of these sites is so similar that I may as well just put them together (although Reddit and imgur has the coolest users!). Essentially these sites let you create an account, bookmark content (photos, movies, articles, gifs, etc.) that you like and then vote on content that other people have uploaded.

Each of these sites does have a slightly different emphasis/interest so it is a good idea to examine them for yourself and see if it matches with your industry.

The main users of these sites

Regardless of what the stats say, the main active users of these sites are young people and technology professionals. Some sites (like StumbleUpon) that lend themselves to photos have a heavy photographer user base.

The main features of bookmarking sites

Let’s take a look at some of the common features that you’ll find on almost all of these sites:

  • Profile creation
    Obviously you need a profile to be able to bookmark content and some people grow these over time such that they can send large amounts of traffic to whatever they post.
  • Bookmarking
    The main thing you then do is find content on other sites and bookmark it to your profile in the appropriate category.
  • Upvoting/downvoting
    If you like a bookmark that someone else has posted you give it an upvote (or a thumbs up, like, etc.) and if you don’t like it you downvote it (or bury, etc.).
  • Community participation
    I became addicted to Reddit and imgur for a very long time because the communities there are made up of a lot of helpful, caring and very honest people. These two sites in particular are known for having a zero-tolerance policy against hateful or sexist users and often go out of their way to help people having a hard time.
  • Niche sections
    These sites are usually broken up into lots of different sub-niches or categories where industry specialists hang out. For example, Reddit has thousands of sub-Reddits that are all individually moderated and based around one topic only.
  • Following
    Of course, you can follow users that you think are interesting or match up with your interests. Some of these sites allow for one on one communication via private messages.
  • Toolbars
    Some of these sites (StumbleUpon mainly) let you install a browser toolbar that allows you to “stumble” content that you like without having to log into the actual site. This is a very good feature for repeat use.

The main advantages of bookmarking sites

Let’s have a real quick look at the main benefits of these particular quasi-social networking sites:

  • Trend discovery
    Reddit calls itself the “homepage of the internet” and in a way they are right. A lot of internet trends are pioneered on these sites. You’d be surprised at how many massive trends I see today that were “in” jokes on imgur a year ago.
  • Traffic boost
    If you get your content bookmarked by a “power user” you will often find that you get a huge boost in traffic for the day as people browse the hot topics or homepages. Sites like Digg and Delicious used to crash servers.
  • Content research
    Often you’ll get some really good ideas about the type of news/content/information that is popular with people that are doing the sharing. This can provide you with a plan for future videos, posts, articles, etc.
  • Brand creation
    There have been some amazing brands come out of bookmarking sites. People who create different content with a clever twist have literally spanwed new careers. My favorite is a guy called Shitty Watercolour from Reddit. He would literally paint people’s comments.

The main disadvantages of social bookmarking sites

Oh, you bet there are some of these! Let’s take a look:

  • Addictive traps
    Seriously, if you aren’t good at moderating your internet time you will spend hours and hours trawling through the daily updates to these sites. After a while, the going ons seem super important and you lose sight of what is going on in the world.
  • Not a lot of interaction
    Sure, there are exceptions to this rule, but for the most part your time spent on these sites is better spent on places with higher conversion rates. You might bookmark 200 articles before you find your account getting any sway or sending your business any traffic.
  • Death by cool kids
    One of the sad facts about developing a profile anywhere other than your own blog or website is that after a while these cool sites become uncool and everyone leaves. It happened to MySpace and it happened to Digg. There’s an interesting (but old) read about Digg’s top user. Is it worth the risk?
  • Big traffic but low conversions
    I’ve had days where StumbleUpon has sent over 15,000 unique visitors but only one or two new subscribers. Again, there are exceptions to this rule but has been noted by many people.

How should you use them?

In moderation! In all seriousness, there are so many of these sites that if you want to use one it’s a good idea to spend time browsing them and finding one that has a category or section that is useful to either eventually promote your niche or connect with some big players in your niche. Most of the people who use them do so socially and you’ll find that the leap from bookmarking site to sale is difficult but they can be useful for driving traffic and perhaps building back links. The best bet is to maintain an account and develop it as part of an overarching strategy involving other social networks.

Instagram

A description of Instagram

Instagram is a mobile-based app that let’s you take photos of things and then add a “filter” on top which converts the photo into an old-school style. You follow people and synch the app with Twitter and Facebook so that your new photos get shared over there as well. It gained massive popularity (especially with hipsters) and was bought by Facebook for a tiny $1 billion.

A photo event held on Instagram featuring the most beautiful libraries in the world.

The main users of Instagram

Although Instagram is pushing 100 million users it seems as though the main influencers are celebrities and the younger generations. It very much survives on a “cool” vibe and does well at festivals and big events as well as offices and workplaces that want to create a more in-touch vibe.

So how should you use Instagram?

Instagram seems to be a very cool medium for generating buzz around an event. For example, I’ve seen contests where the best Instagram of a music concert wins a prize. As the photos get shared on other social media sites it can be a good opportunity to get your physical location or product shared around in a well photographed manner.

What do I do now?

If you’ve read through the above descriptions, stats and articles you are probably more confused than ever. That’s good! That means you’re thinking about your strategy. And that means you will be less likely to “fiddle” around on social media without a clear set of goals or outcomes.

So what do you do now?

  • Analyze the competition
    Take a look at what the competitors in your niche are doing. Are they doing it well? Could they improve something?
  • Figure out your targets
    Sit down with your office (or office cat) and figure out what outcomes you want to target and what groups of people you think will help you reach those targets. Remember, social networking is often about a soft-sell that drives traffic, builds links and develops authority.
  • Decide on your messaging
    Everything you do online affects your brand. Make sure your social networking is all “on message” in that it enhances your brand and makes you more visible, shareable and approachable.
  • Research the sites
    Spend some time reading about the different sites and seeing which fit with your niche and user base.
  • Jump in and test
    At some point you need to jump in and start testing for yourself. Give yourself 30 minutes or an hour every day to read, plan and interact on social networks. If you can do more or afford to pay someone else to do it that’s even better.

Of course, there will be frustrations and set backs but all this stuff has become so entrenched in modern-day business that there really is no escaping it.

What the heck have I missed?

This post is over 6,500 words long but it really is only a short summary of what’s out there. I’ve missed so much information deliberately and accidentally – I’ve even left out some major social networks (cough, Linkedin).

There are some amazing social media giants lurking in the Tyrant Troops ranks so please leave a comment with any tips that you might have. If your tips are good I’ll add them to the post.

I’d also really appreciate a share if you enjoyed the post.

Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/BlogTyrant/~3/K7dEsOdLOzM/