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Thinking Beyond Facebook and Twitter for Social Relevance

Connection Between Ford's Social Media Use and Reported Profits?

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[ Social Media]

Update: Ford announced profits of nearly $1 billion between July and September. This is attributed to increased market share and a successful cost-cutting program. I wonder if the company’s social media strategy played a significant role.

Original Article: When you think about social media marketing or building your social media presence, you probably think about Facebook or Twitter, or perhaps YouTube or MySpace. That’s good. These are some of the top places on the Internet where people are spending their time online.

What online communities do you focus on? Comment here.

That said, there are probably plenty of places that you are either overlooking or just plain ignoring. They might not have the broad user-bases of the aforementioned services, but there are people there, and the more people you can reach and engage with, the better off you may be in some cases (depending on your goals for social network use).

According to Hitwise data, the top ten social networking websites and forums by US market share of visits looked like this:

Top Ten Social Networks

To be clear, the Hitwise data from which MarketingCharts compiled the above graph is based on US market share of visits as defined by the IAB, which is the percentage of online traffic to the domain or category, from Hitwise’s sample of 10 million US internet users. It’s unclear exactly what all kinds of sites fall into the social networks category.

But the point is that there are a lot of places out there where people are forming communities that you may not be thinking of, but may provide plenty of opportunities for driving more engagement, brand awareness, and/or even traffic.

Are you considering things like Tagged or Yahoo Profiles/Groups? Are you considering the forums out there that pertain to your niche? Forums are relevant in social media marketing. I’ve discussed this in the past. Forums are basically social networks. They’re communities too. You have to think about where the people are, and not just where they are, but where they are talking. Where they’re communicating with others.

Forums or other more narrow communities may even prove to be more valuable tools than Facebook or Twitter in some cases. They are more likely to be focused on specific niches, than on the general public. There are certainly plenty of times where the general public – the Facebook/Twitter crowds are who you are trying to reach, but there will be other times when you may want to reach a specific group of people, which may or may not be a part of Facebook or Twitter.

Look at Ford for example. Scott Monty, who runs the social media efforts for the Ford Motor Company recently told WebProNews that they use all sorts of forms of social media, because "Let’s face it, people are using all sorts of forms."

"We try to be where the mainstream are and we do it in a way that humanizes the company at every turn, so we’re on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, Scribd, Delicious, and upcoming as our major platforms," he said. "And we’re constantly monitoring to see what the trends are and where people are going, so that we’re relevant."

The key word there is relevant. Go where you’re relevant.

What are some less thought about communities that you use to engage with people? Discuss here.

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  • http://www.xsprotemplates.com Xsite Pro

    “Forums are relevant in social media marketing”… not just relevant but in my opinion they were the first signs online that social media was coming and inevitable.

    Forums in many ways are still the most powerful social proof media online; especially because forums are often so niche focused!

    Thanks for a sharing. This info is going to help my research and growing business.

    Patrick

  • http://www.socialsam.com Michael Morgan

    Sometimes a company or organization can leverage the conversations of the broader communities to direct traffic to relevant private networks. It is in these private networks that participation and influence are both more concentrated around specific interests or passions, allowing the organization to participate in the discussions at a more personal level.

  • http://HostingOffers.org Hosting Offers

    Can’t believe Tagged is Bigger Than Twitter?

    the top 3 ones i focus on are

    Facebook
    Twitter
    YouTube

    followed by relevant forums

  • http://pageonebusiness.com Warner Carter

    also find social networks in your niche (or even creat one) at places like ning.com. Linkedin has a certain credibilty. Niche Forums still work too.

  • http://www.netmagellan.com Ash Nallawalla

    I haven’t met anyone who has mentioned Tagged.com, and it’s a surprise to me that its home page is just an application form claiming that 80M people use it. Many of the 98,800 pages seen by Google seem to belong to international users.

    OTOH, Google sees 340,000,000 Twitter pages. OK, so Tagged.com is hard to crawl but I am yet to meet someone who hasn’t heard of Twitter.

    Anyway, a very thought-provoking article – fully agree about forums being the under-publicised side of SM. Thanks.

  • http://www.juliechapman.com Guest

    Linked In, My Space, Active Rain (Real Estate Community), Plaxo, Facebook, Twitter, Yelp….just to name a few

  • Guest

    I would be interested in the demographics from the HITWISE date of Social Network visitors. Which Social Networks attrack the 25 – 45 year olds with disposable income? 45 – 60?

    • http://www.amnet.net Trevor Dierdorff

      http://csbj.com/2009/10/14/facebook-or-linkedin-it-depens-on-how-much-you-make/

      Article titled “Does your social class determine your online social network?”
      http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/science/10/13/social.networking.class/index.html

  • http://cultivation.posterous.com/ Johan

    Thanks for this article. It just reminded me to no just jump on the bandwagon. There are other social areas as well, even if they are smaller they may be a lot more focused….with more than enough people to make many wealthy ;-)

  • http://www.singsnap.com Katie

    No Social networking site has what SingSnap has…Its unique…Its Free…and it has the very best community interaction you will find on the net.

  • http://internet-marketing-and-seo-consultants-santa-barbara.com/ Jreddick

    I use Merchant Circle as one of my social networking sites. It sets you up in the town that you are in and you focus on that area with other businesses. I have made some big business connections along with driving traffic from locals and non locals in my area. It is a great place to put your business on the map. They also have different programs to help you advertise in different ways if that is what you are looking for. Best of all it is free to get on there, display your business and start making connections.

  • http://www.luvnation.com luvnation.com

    This is a good topic to talk about. I think people forget sometimes that there is a bigger world out there besides Facebook, Myspace, You Tube, Twitter, and Tagged. I am suprised that Twitter wasn’t higher than Tagged though.

  • http://officialsafetyandsecurity.com Official Safety and Security

    Forums are a great way to engage your customers if you can get them to speak out. I have had a forum on my safety and security web site for some time but most people don’t like to share. I still post lots of great safety and security information for anyone who wants to sign in. Thanks, Chris.

  • http://www.3ac.co.uk Gary Taylor

    I like to be active in forums which relate to my particular industry rather than going for the big sites which everyone contributes too. I vote for “relevancy.” Surely being active in a forum, no matter how small, which directly relates to your industry is better than putting posts on Facebook?… As an alternative to Facebook and the likes of Twitter I like to use Mixx.com and the communities they have on there.

    Just because a site is visited more often than another doesn’t make it more relevant.

    Thanks

    Gary

  • http://www.ytb.com/rxmhiebert R. Hiebert

    When I take a hard look at which I focus on, it comes down to relevance. In other words, if it’s contacts w/family and close friends, it might be the most popular but with restrictive settings. If it’s to garner prospects for our entrepreneurial purposes, some other site where it’s productivity has most potential.

  • http://www.amnet.net Trevor Dierdorff

    I suppose that LinkedIn is excluded as a niche social Networking site as the are just for business. Can you think of any other reason they’d be excluded?

    It was my understanding that the FB, LI, and Twitter were the big 3. Myspace is for kids and YouTube isn’t networking at all it is just a place to stick and watch videos. Those hits on YouTube are artificially high as people host videos there that when clicked never take you to their site. MySpace and YouTube do not belong on this list if LinkedIn isn’t on it!

    • Glenn

      I get more traffic from YouTube than from Facebook, Twitter, & MySpace combined. It’s all in the presentation..

  • http://www.betterhelpworld.com Better Help World

    The best suitable social networking site for your web site is not mostly depend on the nature of your web site. I am trying out all the options for my blog. But getting more benefit from Stumble.

  • http://gcmusic.tmblr.net Guest

    Trig, Virb and Purevolume, while being mainly music and art oriented, are great social nwtworking sites that don’t get you bogged down in useless, time-wasting games and nonsense! Of the three I mentioned, Trig is my favorite. I use it to publish updates to my main music blog.

  • http://www.webnretail.net Web ‘n Retail

    We have had enormous success for our Clients posting on Bookmark Sharing Services , News Aggregators and Blogging sites (ie., increasing site traffic from 2,000 to 33,000 in 3 weeks for one of our clients).

    You need to be diversified. We service the above types of sites as well as TARGETED forums for our clients who sell all types of products and services.

    NOW, ADD UP THE NUMBERS BELOW! Spreading your word across multiple platforms is a MUST (as well as a permanent online search engine record).

    We post on BOOKMARK SHARING sites like:
    - KABOODLE.COM
    A Top 20 Social Bookmarking/Shopping Website. (Alexa.com) Kaboodle.com has a traffic rank of 1,127. 10,833 Sites Linking In. (Quantcast.net) Kaboodle has an estimated 2.9M
    Est. Monthly US People

    - GOOGLE BOOKMARKS
    (Alexa.com) Google.com has a traffic rank of: 2. Other sites that link to this site: 310,314. (Quantcast.net) Estimated 8.5K monthly traffic.

    - YAHOO BOOKMARKS
    Yahoo.com has a traffic rank of: 1. Other sites that link to this site: 62,651. (Quantcast.com) Estimated 125 million monthly traffic.

    And up to 300 other Bookmark Sharing Sites like:
    LINKAGOGO, LISTERLISTER, JEQQ, CONNECTADY, etc.

    We also have great success posting on NEWS AGGREGATOR sites. These sites have multi-tiered audiences. For example:
    - DIGG.COM:

    • http://www.thewinespace.com/ Ron & KD

      Wine reviews, Another Social networking site…..but this one focuses on Wine, Food, Pictures, Travel, Recipes and forums…Come check us out!

  • http://www.zygella.com Joe

    This is a good topic to talk about. However there are many other great websites that one can use alongside those top ten.

  • http://www.stumpedia.com Guest

    Stumpedia.com

  • http://sunnyfun.com Tom Mulhall

    Blogs is my most successful way of getting new guests at our resort. we have been blogging for over 3 years.

    Yahoo groups is the best way to get people to fill rooms on weekends for last minute cancellations.

    We own a clothing optional resort, so we also post in nudist forums.

    We also use facebook and twitter and youtube.

    Tom

  • http://articlepower.free.fr Article Marketing Power

    I think this list gives a good idea of the traffic those sites get, but as for my experience, it happens to be totally upside down.

    Furthermore, sites like Tagged and Myyearbook are full of eastern ladies searching for a husband. I get three or more messages a day and they’re all the same. I cannot find a way to get something good from these sites. Well, if was looking for a nice looking young lady maybe…

  • http://www.SusanGrisanti.com Susan Grisanti Guitarist

    I find there’s beauty in having multiple accounts on each
    social network, this seems to work for me with cross
    marketing in a way that one account on each social
    network was not as effective. For example when I have
    reached my limit to follow on one of my Twitter accounts
    & a new person follows me on that account, I simply add
    them on one of my two other Twitter accounts.

  • http://www.CrystalFanaticsClub.com pking100

    I agree with Michael Morgan (WPN reader) – Fri, 10/30/2009 – 14:58
    Use broader communities to create your own relevance too

    Sometimes a company or organization can leverage the conversations of the broader communities to direct traffic to relevant private networks. It is in these private networks that participation and influence are both more concentrated around specific interests or passions, allowing the organization to participate in the discussions at a more personal level.

    We are a website devoted to Collectors of Swarovski Crystal, with a worldwide membership & we’ve been on the net for more than 10 years.
    Pat

  • http://kymwatson.com Kim Watson

    Your point is solid and I definitely spend my time almost exclusively with the sites getting the most media coverage. I’ve not even bothered to join fb or myspce… My future plans depend on expansion so there’s no downside to testing these additional options. Thanks for the informative tips. Very well done…

  • http://www.bodydreams.com T-shirts

    Everyone should be using the big two of facebook and twitter as they are easy and don’t take too much of your time. Forums are good too if they relate to your industry. I never heard of tagged so i will have to check it out.

    • http://communitymarketing.typepad.com Andrew Ballenthin

      About 5 months ago I signed-up for Tag due to its significant size and wanted to see how it fits into business applications. It doesn’t. Its one of the most aggressive social networks online with the core of activity revolving around dating. Every week I receive over 20 emails “12 people I should get to know” which consists of only women who have had hundreds to tens of thousands of men visit their profile and comment on their appearances.

      At a stretch I could see how this would be appealing for some businesses but one of the key rules of social media is “adapt and work within the culture”.

      According to site ranker and analyzer Quantcast, 84% of Tagged’s users are between 18-49, less affluent with 74% earning under $60,000/yr and 60% with no college degree.

      I understand why its a valuable social network and has huge appeal but its one that’s furthest from practical business use.

  • http://www.cheapcharlieshotels.com/ Cheap Charley

    I like to keep my work day to under 17 hours a day so that I have a little time to do things like eat and sleep. I spend hours on this and I just don’t see where the traffic justifies the effort. How much is my time worth vrs how much benefit will I get from the effort?

    Good article and even better comments!

  • http://www.bargainmasterng.com Ekene

    I noticed a new website http://www.bargainmasterng.com that is a local site focused on a country for the businesses in that country and I think using websites like this will really help those businesses that most be relevant in the country and region they serve.

  • http://communitymarketing.typepad.com Andrew Ballenthin

    Over the past year I’ve tested out the principle of breadth and micro-targeting versus mainstream and mass market with social networks. One rule has consistently applied regardless of the network’s size, what you put into it you get out of it. It may seem deceptively simple but the reality is unless you apply the principles to making a social network a success it matters less about the size (to some degree) and more about how well you learned its culture and made genuine contacts and human relationships.

    Conversely, if you seek traffic and the broadest exposure, size does matter. Smaller players (tens of millions of members versus hundreds of millions) will mean less mass exposure. Why? If you take the time to analyze how many participants fit your target customer profile across multiple countries, time zones and cultures the percent of potential traffic participants begins to significantly drop. Plus, if your business has a target geographic catchment area, you will find the percent of online members to be even smaller on smaller networks and therefore less viable for ROI based on time invested and payback on results. But… there’s exceptions to every scenario. Best of luck with your efforts.

  • http://memory-card-recovery-software.blogspot.com/ meory card recovery

    Twitter is better than Facebook. I love Twitter!

  • http://thehiringsite.careerbuilder.com Mary

    It’s easy to forget that there are social networks beyond Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Especially when it comes to companies using social media to recruit new employees – niche sites can be especially useful when looking for candidates with specialized, hard-to-find skills. Chances are there’s a social networking platform dedicated to the field of interest where people with those skills come together (you might just have to do a little research to find them). More thoughts on that here: http:// bit.ly/26UoYH

  • http://webnethosting.net webnethosting.net

    I agree that forums and blogs are very useful tools for reaching your target audience. While I go to facebook and other social networking sites for personal use, when marketing WebNet Hosting it is sometimes more effective to find niche forums and blogs to reach users that really care about what we have to say. check out our newly launched blog for e-commerce tips and advice @ http://blog.webnethosting.net

  • http://whyurban.com Sam

    Chris,

    I just launched a blog and was beginning to engage the blogsphere and some social networks, like facebook and twitter, by commenting on these networks and blogs. However, I think your idea of engaging more than just these media is a smart idea that I fully intend to employ. I really like the concept of engaging forums and will be investigating that particular avenue immediately. Thanks for the useful ideas.

    • http://www.connectture.com Guest

      absolutely there is space for more and networking does not end at social websites like the ones mentioned.i would also like to add www.connectture.com a business web portal for Scandinavia. check it out.

  • http://firstpk.com adnan

    http://firstpk.com

    the new social networking growing very fast

  • http://www.siskiyouwebdesign.com Siskiyou Web Design

    Not only is Social Media system, discussion groups or forums good places to market your business, but they can be a good source of backlinks and traffic to your Website. They also assist in promoting you as an authority figure or someone with information that may be worth something.

    These methods should be used in your marketing efforts!

  • Tulip

    I use www.koham.info

    Koham is a combination of two Sanskrit words – Koh (who) and Aham (I) meaning “who I am”. Now Who Am I? That is one question often all of us at some point of our lives have asked. It is this understanding of ourselves that decide how we interact, how we grow, and how we handle situations. The better we understand ourselves; we are better able to channel our positive strengths.

    Koham is a friendly networking community, for people who like to discover the self, share knowledge and have decent fun.It likes to set an example to the world at large that offline or online it is the thoughts that matter.Join us, Tap your mind’s resources and utilise it for the betterment of your self and the society.

    The members here represent people from all over the world, all age groups and from all walks of life. We share our joys, our sorrows, have few laughs, get to showcase our talents, achievements through clean talks and the site

  • http://www.rewebsitemarketing.com Marketing Steve

    I agree with the statement above. Delving deeper than the normal social networks, promotions and advertisements on blogs have really helped my clients pull in a boat-load of finely tuned niche traffic. Granted, it took some research and testing to find the best key sites, but once uncovered, they are a goldmine.

  • Morgan

    BigTent.com is a free, family-friendly online platform that provides the “community” that you discuss. BigTent was not listed in your comparison of online social networks but is definitely worth consideration. BigTent provides a personal approach to members and group leaders by facilitating a coaches corner with live, recorded and printed resources (http://blog.bigtent.com/2009/11/09/bigtent-launches-coach-corner/). You can find groups or start your own group by going to www.bigtent.com.

  • http://www.liveonlinechat.net Simon

    I think a social community should be as easy to use as possible with less going on and more concentration on the social impact. For example, a live chat room can be nothing more than people chatting to each other, getting to know more about each other, becoming friends. A community like Facebook using games like Farmville does not give that much in the way of good communication. A forum is a great way to debate and can be used alongside a chat room. I have done this at Live Online Chat and made it as easy to use as possible. The chat rooms do not require registration, chatters simply enter a name and click login. I have added free webcams and audio chat rooms, again, without registration. The chatters have been coming back for years and a good spirited fun community has been created. I have added a forum and tried to use interesting categories that would bring out something in everyone for discussion. It has done well and I hope to keep it this way.

    forum

  • Greg Breten

    Social networks are very important to our community in our society today. When my Little Neck dentist wanted to market his services, he started to post his reviews on social networks like facebook, friendster, and etc. By doing his he reach out to young clients that were still in school looking for cheap services. Marketing your business on social networks is a huge advantage to our community today.

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