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2 Emerging Social Media Platforms You Should be Using RIGHT NOW

November 2, 2010

by Dena Stern, Working Point

In the brave new world of Social Media for Small Business there are the big, well known and highly lauded vehicles for promotion (Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, Yelp, LinkedIn) that almost every business has heard of, if not tried.

And then there are the new entrees into the scene, which get a lot of buzz in certain industries but which have not yet reached mainstream awareness. The obvious barrier to embracing these tactics as an “early adopter” is that your target audience may not have jumped on board either which will delay the potential benefits of directing your energy into these strategies.

However there are a multitude of advantages to being among the first in your area/industry to embrace these new platforms and a potentially greater payoff in the long run then directing your efforts to competing in the over saturated Social Media spheres.

These newer tactics are not as widely used, and therefore not as competitive, as the older social media platforms. There is plentiful room for growth on these platforms, potential for untapped markets and above all else an advantage to having more time to getting a toehold in the space before others flood the market.

These two tactics are heavily favored to succeed (both by investors and by predictive trending based on early adoption). By being the first to embrace them your business has a distinct advantage in capitalizing on the potential business expansion opportunities.

Platform: Social Q&A

Sites: Quora, Yahoo Answers, LinkedIn Questions , OnStartups Q&A, Focus, Matchpoint, Facebook Questions, Aardvark

Social Q&A is relatively new to the Social Media Market. Quora launched with much fanfare this summer following in the heels of high profile social search acquisitions by big names like Apple, Google and Yahoo. Social search and crowdsourcing information and Q&A is here to stay. Yahoo Answers, one of the oldest and therefore more pervasive of the Q&A models, consistently shows up in search queries and no doubt these other sites will also start to pop up as they grow in notoriety and popularity.

In fact, several hours after answering my first question on Quora we experienced immediate results in the form of site visits and conversions. Although not everyone can expect immediate turn around, there is no doubt that these communities are by their very nature active and seeking, and that demonstrating your expertise can give you a toehold in your field and give your business exposure in a highly directed way.

If you sell custom made bicycles and someone is researching a purchase and comes across a thoughtful (and well ranked answer) how much more likely will that potential customer be to seek you out when it comes time to purchase?

The reason to embrace this tactic right now is simple, to get there and answer questions before other people do. If you look at older sites like Yahoo Answers or LinkedIn, some questions have tens (even hundreds!) of answers. Being first, and at the top, increases the likelihood your response will actually get read and have an impact, much like keyword and search ranking ensures that your website will get visited. In fact some of the sites close questions after a period of time, which means if you don’t answer a question while it’s open, you may never get to answer it.

Platform: Geolocation

Sites: Facebook Places, Loopt, Foursquare, Gowalla

Before the launch of Facebook Places, only 7% of Americans were even aware that Geolocation services exists (according to Mashable). After the launch of Facebook Places, the burgeoning field of geolocation has been exposed to Facebook’s community of 500 million active users, according to Facebook’s own statistics. Each user has an average of 130 friends, 50% of whom log on to Facebook in any given day.

Facebook Places is therefore a huge windfall for the geolocation market. Not only did they dramatically increase the awareness of the “check in”, they also opened up the technology to people who don’t have smartphones (while it may seem that everybody has a smartphone, the actual statistics reveal that only about 30% of mobile users are using their browser!). With the introduction of Facebook Places, even if you can’t check-in you can see and comment on other people’s check ins.

The result is an widespread awareness of geolocation which coincides with market predictions that indicate that by the year 2013 1 billion people will have smartphones. This means that adopting and cultivating your geolocation strategy now will give you a distinct advantage of operating in a less competitive space, much like the early Yelp users and facebook fan page adopters before the novelty of the technology wore off and people began to feel over solicited.

Another motivator is that unlike Facebook Places (which requires you to upload documents that demonstrate proof of ownership of your business) the other geolocation services do not have such rigorous protections in place at this time, which means someone else could claim your business.

These two tactics both possess inherent advantages for early adopters. Why wait? Check out these new social media platforms and explore how they can enrich your existing social media strategy!

About the Author: Dena Stern is the Community Resources and Marketing Manager at WorkingPoint, a financial accounting tool for Small Businesses.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Barry permalink
    November 2, 2010 1:56 pm

    A great rundown on the emergence of social media platforms.

    I found a recent blog that delves into how social search may have an impact on database management and direct marketing.

  2. November 8, 2010 3:53 pm

    During the course of this research, did you uncover any data that compares the value of social media traffic compared with the value of search traffic? The last information I saw indicated that search was still king.

    • November 8, 2010 9:45 pm

      Hi Jeff,

      Although we’re not aware of any indisputable research data that points to one or the other as providing more value, on July 19 we posted an interesting article from the American Express OPEN Forum that touches on that very debate. In it, author Ramon Ray provides some great insight.

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