Thinking Beyond Facebook and Twitter for Social Relevance

    December 23, 2009
    Chris Crum

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.

Related Articles:

Forums Are Relevant in Social Media Marketing

How Big Brands Use Social Media

Some Brands Have Good Ideas For Social Media. Do You?

Using Facebook Traffic to Drive Brand Loyalty