Social Media Marketing: Beyond Twitter and Facebook

Social media marketing seems to get more complicated every day. But you can’t ignore it. This article, the third in a series, focuses on several categories of social media and explains what they are, what they do, and how you can use them to reach your target audience.

In previous articles, I’ve touched on Twitter apps and Facebook apps and games. In this article, we’re going to move a bit beyond these two social giants. While some of the items I’ll discuss will be best known for their use on these networks, you can use them elsewhere as well.

The most obvious of these is URL shorteners. If you’re typing on a site that limits the character count of your posts (such as Twitter), these can come in very handy. The best known of these is bit.ly; you can create a free account or just shorten a URL as a one-off. Tinyurl serves the same function. The latter site notes that long URLs can break in email, forcing the recipient to cut and paste it back together. You might want to use shorter URLs in certain advertising to avoid such problems. It’s worth noting that some social media control panels (again, I’m getting ahead of myself) include URL shorteners as one of their features.

Use URL shorteners with caution, however; some people are wary of shortened URLs because they can’t tell exactly where they’re going. Indeed, some malicious hackers have baited users to click on shortened URLs, making the users vulnerable to attack.

Next is a group described as stream platforms. These include UberMedia, TweetDeck, twhirl and AOL Lifestream. All of these are designed to help users manage their social media streams and feeds. They can help users find posts of interest and schedule their own posts. While most of the ones I’ve listed focus on Twitter, AOL Lifestream covers multiple social networks, and UberMedia has been expanding beyond its Twitter roots. Stream platforms offer multiple tools to help you get a lot done from one place, whether it’s your desktop machine, laptop, netbook, or mobile device. Many include alerts,  filters, various ways to customize and monitor your feeds, and more.

At this point, I imagine it’s pretty obvious how using a stream platform can help you manage your social media marketing. Isn’t it simpler to conduct your interactions from one place, even if you’re using multiple social sites? Just make sure the stream platform you choose covers the sites in which you’re most interested.

I only have room to cover one more social media marketing item in this post, so let’s go with social commerce platforms. Examples include Payvment, Moontoast, Shop Tab, Dotbox, and Vendor Shop, but to be honest, Business Insider’s infographic on social media marketing includes more of these than I can ever list.

So what, exactly, is a social commerce platform? Judging from these companies, it’s a way for businesses to reach out to their fans and customers and reward their loyalty – and the fans, in turn, can help promote the business. It’s not just loyalty deals, though; these companies will help you set up your shop on Facebook, monitor your social analytics, create special deals and one-of-a-kind offers directly to your fans, create engaging polls, and a whole lot more. A social commerce platform could get you engaging your fans and customers socially in ways you haven’t even imagined yet.

A word of warning, though: I know I said that we were going to move beyond Facebook and Twitter in this post, but it looks like most of these services focus specifically on Facebook. They may be great if that’s where you want to go to promote your business – and there’s nothing wrong with that – but if you have a wider strategy in mind, make sure you ask the right questions as to what they can and can’t do. Given how complicated social media marketing has gotten, however, it may be too much to ask to be able to use any one solution to cover everything.

That’s all I have for your this week. Next week, we’ll cover several more areas of social media marketing and SMM services. Have you found one that worked particularly well for you? Share it in the comments!

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