Social media is the undisputed defining marketing practice of the last decade. Since the inception of Facebook in 2004, social media has taken over the world at breakneck speed: It has defined a generation, revolutionized how we communicate and flipped traditional marketing on its head.
But recently, the bigger networks have gotten some pushback, as the #DeleteFacebook movement shows. This is in response to the fake news distribution and privacy compromises that have become commonplace. Luckily, Facebook isn't the only social game in town.
As businesses have rushed to get ahead on the major platforms, many smaller platforms, apps and networks have been working to fill the gaps and provide users with unique social experiences that focus on meeting business needs. If you can hit it big on a smaller network, you could develop just the right niche following to meet your business needs.
Here are some of the best lesser-known social networks that you should be using for your business.
Bumble, the "female-first" dating app, took the online dating world by storm. But Bumble has been branching out. First it launched its platonic offshoot, Bumble BFF. Now it's dipping its toe into business with Bumble Bizz. Bumble Bizz is focused on individual connections, placing networking at the forefront of user experience. Users can add photos, digital resumes, a skills section and work samples, as well as explaining what you're looking to get out of your connection.
With its goal to help a traditionally underrepresented workforce break out and connect, Bumble Bizz is poised to greatly benefit small business owners and entrepreneurs. By supplying you with a ready-made (and local) networking community, the site can help you build vital business connections and mentor-mentee relationships. [Read more about how to use Bumble Bizz here.]
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TikTok is the latest and greatest in teenage social media trends. Fast approaching Snapchat-level popularity, TikTok slid into the quick-video void left after Vine exited the arena in 2017. It has regularly ranked in the top three downloads on the App Store in the past year.
Because TikTok is relatively new, businesses are still experimenting to find what works best for marketing. As with any social media marketing, understanding the network and its users (and, by extension, what those users will respond positively to) is vital.
Because a significant portion of TikTok's users are very young, authenticity is key when running promotions. Gen Z tends to be very perceptive when it comes to advertising and want to be marketed with, not to.
Fang Marketing recommends diving into the platform's hashtag challenges, where, for example, your business can create a challenge, provide music clips and own a hashtag where users can upload their submissions.
TikTok is slowly moving to support paid ads, but the best way to get your brand noticed is by engaging directly with users or reaching out to TikTok influencers with large followings for mentions.
The Dots brands itself as "a diverse community of no-collar professionals" that focuses on networking, collaboration and support for those in the creative sector. The Dots offers a unique opportunity to showcase your work, tag your team members, and be discovered by potential collaborators, clients and employers.
The Dots is a heavily visual site, best suited for companies that have strong graphics to display. Some of the most popular accounts on The Dots are Google, Conde Nast and Burberry. To be successful, you should flesh out your profile as much as possible, ensuring you have hi-res images of your work, diverse images from multiple stages of your process, and tags for your team members and collaborators. You should also make a point to have a diverse set of content, including ad campaigns, photography and blogs.
Consider your business's Dots profile as an expanded Instagram. The lead-in is the graphic, and you can include an article, blog post or advertisement once the viewer clicks into the visual.
Ning allows you to create a completely customizable social network for your business's own community. Your network can have sections for video, photos, chat, music, groups, forums and more. Ning allows you to design exactly what you want to get out of social media for your business and provides a unique way to see what your customers want and are talking about.
To be successful on Ning, you should carefully consider three things: what you want to get out of it, what types of content you are going to post, and how you are going to interact with your audience. Because Ning is so customizable, it can be easy to have a scattered focus that confuses consumers and drives away traffic. Have a clear mission in mind and stick to it.
While the mention of Quora may take some people back to the days of Googling homework questions and usually having Quora pop up as the first result, the site has become a new haven for brands looking to establish themselves as experts in their field, as well as gleaning information on the kinds of questions their consumers have.
In addition to allowing businesses to brand themselves as experts on certain topics, Quora provides a space to build a following centered on those topics. With Quora's millions of global users, business have the opportunity to reach a significant number of people.
To get the most out of Quora, start by making sure you have a fleshed-out profile with a name, your business and a profile photo. Then get to answering pertinent questions in your or your business's area of expertise. Be direct and succinct, and don't self-promote. You should also post thoughtful questions that provoke conversation to build brand awareness. Focus on following thought leaders, colleagues and competitors, and engage often.
As digital media and social networking continue to progress, you should seriously consider what platforms your business is using and how well those platforms are serving you. Maybe it's time to say goodbye to Facebook and hello to something new.