T’was the night before Christmas and what’s dancing in your head — visions of sugar plums or your latest social media metrics?
If you’re feeling like your brand got a little lost in social during the holiday crush, don’t despair – you have options. Perhaps it’s the perfect time to think about trying something new.
Everyone knows about Facebook and Twitter. Oh yeah, and there’s Google+ too. And Tumblr. And we can’t forget about Pinterest. But that pretty much sums up the social media landscape — that’s all there is, right?
Sadly, many marketers seem to think so.
In fact, if you were to ask some social marketers about the platforms they use, you’d be lucky to hear them mention Tumblr and Pinterest at all.
Despite the fact that there are numerous social platforms that marketers can leverage today, many brands operate in a very limited social landscape. Often, Twitter and Facebook represent the full extent of their social media efforts.
A Risky Proposition
But what’s wrong with just focusing on Facebook and Twitter? After all, that’s where the “eyeballs” are. Why should brands even bother going anywhere else?
The short answer is risk. Brands need to think beyond the biggest mainstream social networks of the day because the channel is constantly evolving. The platforms that dominate today could easily be a thing of the past tomorrow. The story of MySpace comes to mind.
Solely focusing on the top social platforms also robs brands of great opportunities. Lesser-known social networks can offer unique experiences specific to the platform. For example: Zocdoc for doctors and Goodreads for authors. These niche-interest type social networks give you a smaller but more relevant audience.
Moreover, the newest social platforms are worth the effort because they don’t yet suffer from ad blindness. Think of it this way: that “fresh climate” could give your brand a first-mover advantage. (“Another tweet from @McDonald’s? We get it. You sell cheap burgers!”)
Explore New Social Possibilities
The point is, there’s a lot more out there than Facebook and Twitter. Brands can stay hip and ahead of the curve by exploring new ways of engaging beyond the mainstream social networks.
Granted, upstart social platforms don’t have the huge audiences that the social media giants do, but they do offer interesting opportunities that merit a closer look. So, go out and explore! When you find something new that interests you, figure out how you can play with it in your marketing efforts. Maybe it’ll be a flop, or maybe it’ll become an amazing tool to add to your digital arsenal and differentiate your brand from the competition.
Below are a few social platforms you should explore, along with a few ideas to help you get started on each:
While on the whole, this platform’s community hates being marketed to, that doesn’t mean it’s off limits — you just have to go about it the right way. For example, Degree pulled it off nicely. They had their spokesman, Bear Grylls, do an AMA (Ask Me Anything). This effort produced lots of great video content starring Mr. Grylls, and netted the brand nearly 2 million views.
- Participate in a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything): Find someone in your organization to do a Q&A session with the Reddit community. From the start, know that you’re going to get some negative response, even if you’re a bonafide Reddit meme like Bear Grylls. If you approach it honestly, without an overt attempt to sell something, then it’s a win-win: you gain exposure and the Reddit community gets useful insight into your industry.
- Create your own Subreddit: Reddit is great platform for community building, and subreddits facilitate it. They are basically subgroups that provide a smaller, more relevant audience. You can use a subreddit for a variety of things, such as customer support or for campaigns involving community voting. Private subreddits are great for internal discussions and updates.
- Answer Relevant AskReddit Questions: Set-up alerts so you know when a question is posted to /r/AskReddit that matches your area of expertise, then jump into the conversation. Just remember not to spam – in other words, don’t automate your response! Be honest and try to offer value to the community.
Quora is Yahoo! Answers for grown-ups. This Q&A site has a lot of fun and useful features (embeddable posts, community voting, topic pages) that could make it a great extension of your current content marketing efforts. Keep in mind though that you have to be a real person to participate in Quora – it doesn’t allow automated responses. That means you should identify the appropriate people in your organization and task them with participating in the platform in regard to their specific area of expertise.
- Answer relevant questions: Keep an eye out for your brand name popping-up on Quora, and subscribe to industry topics. If you have a product that’s the answer to someone’s problem/question, there’s no harm in letting them know.
- Share influencer stories: Encourage influencers you work with to take to Quora on your behalf and share their personal stories with the community. Clients and business partners would be ideal.
- Use Quora to create content: You can find a lot of interesting information on Quora if you mine it wisely. Whether the information is already there, or you directly solicit input via posting questions, pull it together for a blog post or other content asset. Or, you might decide to answer a Quora question on your website, and then drop an excerpt on the platform.
Pheed could easily be the “phuture” of social media as lots of people are using it, and it seems to skew young. It has a lot of similarities to Twitter, but with a larger focus on multimedia. It also has upgrade options that allow users to pay for access to premium content. It’s almost like cable television for the Internet if you could own a TV station. But Pheed is not my cup of tea — it uses lots of shortcut symbols that I don’t understand — maybe I’m too old.
- Host a premium live event: This can be a great supplement to a free event. Offer “backstage access” through Pheed. The access fee makes you some money and creates an exclusivity vibe that makes your event seem cooler than it probably is.
- Webisodes: Share video vignettes that are tied together with some running narrative. Perhaps, if you sell chicken nuggets, it could be a nugget-filled soap opera. Or a Day in the Life of Mr. Nugget.
- Use a premium channel for coupons and special deals: People are happy to pay for a good deal. If you can offer the community significant savings or freebies, then consider creating a premium channel where users pay a monthly fee for exclusive deals.
Snapchat offers a lot more than just fancy sexting. It combines the speed of texting with the visual fun of whatever’s around you at any given moment, or your best attempt at a funny face. The platform has an active and mostly young user base — perhaps making it the future of digital communication. But few brands are doing anything on Snapchat, which creates opportunity for you to be a trailblazer.
- Snapchat coupons: Use Snapchat to deliver self-expiring coupons, redeemable by opening the Snap in-store. Users won’t know what they’re getting, unless they have a Snap-saving app that kills the suspense. Each coupon could include two deals: a surprise deal redeemable by opening the Snap at the register, and a consolation deal redeemable with a screenshot.
- Tell stories: Why spend money on a fancy TV commercial when you can deliver the same message through a series of Snaps, and for a lot less? The platform’s new “Stories” feature allows people to share many clips in a row. Let the creative director in you run wild!
- Get celebrities involved: Do you have a celebrity spokesperson or are you in negotiations with one? If so, make sure they’re Snapchatting. Who wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to receive Snaps from Justin Timberlake himself? And if he happens to Snap himself drinking a refreshing Pepsi from time to time, so be it.
The founders of Whisper basically noticed that social media was too positive, and they set out to create a way for people to share the grim truth. While many of the secrets shared on the platform are on the depressing side, it’s evolving into a great platform for anonymous sharing, which is something that Twitter and Facebook don’t offer. It also has a “Nearby” feature – this could be a great opportunity for local businesses.
- Start a rumor: Releasing a super-secret product soon? Announcing a big hire? Maybe drop some hints through Whisper. For instance, Xbox could have revealed product features through Whispers containing official, top-secret product photos with text overlays. Let people wonder if the Whispers are part of a crafty PR stunt, or merely from some teenagers messing around.
- Create content: Does your product offer a solution or can your company relate to customers’ anguish? Popular Whispers likely shed light on a shared sentiment. Save relevant Whispers, and use them to inform your next blog post or other content effort.
- Local announcements: Tap into Whisper’s “Nearby” feature to promote your event. For example, did your freezer break and you’re giving away free ice cream to anyone who stops by? Use Whispers to get the word out!
Fiverr offers any service you could possibly imagine for only $5. For that reason, it can add a lot of fun and creativity to your social campaigns, and is a great option for outsourcing content creation. It’s like the Subway “footlong” of digital marketing. Speaking of food, Hungry Jack’s (Burger King in Australia) has used it to create a commercial.
- Content: If you’re a brand on a budget, you don’t have to worry as Fiverr is cheap. Trying to produce a YouTube video? Get all the elements for it from people on Fiverr. You can even hire a Fiverr to edit it all together for you.
- Ideation: Not sure what to do for your next marketing promotion or content effort? Need some inspiration? Browse Fiverr for interesting offers, and find something that would work for your brand. Maybe you didn’t realize you could use a hula-hooping bikini girl simply because you didn’t know she existed. Now you do. Put her to work!
- Pimp out your spokesperson: If you have a celebrity to do your bidding, why not lease them out for $5 a pop? Put Neil Patrick Harris in a Dr. Pepper t-shirt and sign him up for a gig to record a video greeting written by the purchaser.
Tonight, as you get ready to “settle your brain for a long winter’s nap,” give some thought to how you might broaden your social media efforts and try something new. Remember, there’s more out there than Facebook and Twitter, and you could be missing out on some great opportunities!
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!” Happy Holidays!
What are some of the newer social platforms you have experimented with? Share what worked and what didn’t! What social platforms do you want to try in 2014 and why?