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Understanding the Different Types of Social Media

Twitter homepage
Twitter is just one of many types of social media available

Social media outlets that allow instant, public communication are one of the most high-profile forms of electronic marketing. Micro-blogging tools, blogs, networking sites, online communities, word-of-mouth, discussion forums and social bookmarking sites are all different types of social media.

Micro-blogging
Tools which enable you to publish short, sharp comments and links to websites and pictures and enable people to  publicly respond with the same kind of short comments, links, etc.

Examples of tools

  • Twitter, www.twitter.com
  • Facebook, www.facebook.com
  • Tumblr, www.tumblr.com
  • Ping.fm, www.ping.fm

Benefits

  • Conversation with customers – These tools encourage conversation with whoever finds themselves browsing your page.
  • Your customers and potential customers can keep track of you – People who use these services keep track of new entries on the pages of people or organisations that they are interested in and can quickly and easily find out if your page has been updated.

 

Blogs
For those who prefer longer forms of communication, blogs allow you to write on the web as you might a newsletter, for example. These can be corporately focused, but are often more successful when they have a personal touch, particularly where the writer is offering interesting opinions. In most cases, readers have the opportunity to respond and leave comments.

Examples of blog platforms

  • WordPress, www.wordpress.org or www.wordpress.com
  • Movable Type, www.movabletype.org
  • Blogger, www.blogger.com
  • Typepad, www.typepad.com

Benefits

  • More depth – a blog enables you to provide more information than micro-blogging, but you should still try to keep anything you write short and interesting to your target reader.
  • Same benefits as micro-blogging.
  • You can run a blog through your own company website.
  • Often easier to use free or low-cost platforms which provide pre-designed templates and the ability to edit the blog from wherever you have an Internet connection.

 

Networking sites

Examples

There are a number of networking websites, which host communities for both consumers and businesses:

  • MySpace, www.myspace.com
  • Facebook, www.facebook.com
  • LinkedIn, www.linkedin.com
  • Ecademy, www.ecademy.com

Benefits

  • Personal interest – Your customers can keep tabs on areas of personal interest about what you offer.
  • Sharing – Your customers can share this with others.
  • Updates – Provide updates on events, promotions, people.
  • Search ranking – Links to your website can help ranking on search engines
  • Wide choice – Whatever your business’s interests, there is likely to be a relevant group that you can get involved with.
  • Business-to-business networking

Examples

  • LinkedIn, www.linkedin.com
  • Ecademy, www.ecademy.com.

Benefits

  • Personal profile  – promote yourself or your people
  • Business profile – promote your business
  • Networking – Extend your online reputation and increase interest in your business – invite colleagues, peers and even competitors to join your network.

 

Word-of-mouth

Examples

  • TripAdvisor
  • Yell Reviews

Benefits

  • Free
  • Trustworthy
  • One of the best forms of promotion your business can receive.

 

Discussion forums
You can host a discussion forum on your own website and encourage customers to use it, or take part in forums on other sites.

Benefits

  • Useful for questions, comments or complaints. If done sensitively and honestly, using forums like this can generate positive word-of-mouth and recommendations for your business.
  • Word-of-mouth – discussion forums are great to generate word-of-mouth for your business.
  • Extend your online reputation -Join other forums relevant to your business to provide support and advice to other users.
  • Warning: if you use it for straight advertising or unconcealed sales messages, it will turn forum users against you.

 

Social bookmarking
Information-sharing tools, similar to someone sending a ‘Have you seen this?’ email to a colleague or friend. Users of these services mark web pages they view as ‘interesting’ and would like to recommend to others. If someone bookmarks your site, others will be able to find it and see the recommendation. The number of recommendations is aggregated by the service and users of the services see what their peers believe to be the most interesting pages on the web at any given moment.

Examples

  • Stumbleupon, www.stumbleupon.com
  • Reddit, www. reddit.com
  • Digg.com, www.digg.com
  • Del.icio.us, www.delicious.com

Benefits

  • Online buzz – Help you create a ‘buzz’ about your business – particularly new product or service launches.
  • More visits – If you have a new launch, the relevant page on your website may get more visits over a short period of time as a result of people sharing recommendations through bookmarking services.
  • Spares your inbox – Avoids clogging up your email inbox.

© BHP Information Solutions Ltd 2010. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted without the written permission of the publisher. This publication is for general guidance only. The publisher, expert contributors and distributor disclaim all liability for any errors or omissions. Consult your local business-support organisation or your professional adviser for help and advice.