Social Media Marketing: It`s Complicated

If you can remember the days before Facebook and Twitter, you probably recall a time when social media marketing meant using MySpace, Delicious, commenting on the posts of bloggers dedicated to your niche, making yourself known in forums, and so forth. Nowadays, just trying to keep up with the different categories can make a marketer frantic.

Social media optimization and social media marketing really got their start in 2006, with a blog post by Rohit Bhargava. To some extent, it existed before that post, of course; it’s worth noting that Facebook had been founded only two years before. Rohit codified rules, which others expanded on. He updated those rules several years later.

As you’d expect, since we’re dealing with the online world, a lot has happened in the six years since Rohit wrote that post. And if you’re trying to understand it all, it’s downright scary. Business Insider posted an insane but painfully accurate infographic to get that point across. Even the graphic’s creator missed something; Pinterest wasn’t included, and really should have been.

The graphic separates services and websites important to social media marketing into no fewer than 28 different categories. Twenty-eight! And they’re all legitimate, as near as I can tell. All of a sudden, I feel a certain sympathy with General Motors for removing its advertising from Facebook. Perhaps it was simply a matter of not being able to keep everything straight, and giving up on trying.

In this article (and the ones that follow) I’m going to explain these different social media categories. Hopefully, rather than contributing to the confusion, I’ll help you get a handle on each of these areas. We’ll take a look at what they are, what they do, some of the major players, and their marketing potential.

Facebook and Twitter are practically in a class by themselves; they’ve certainly spawned several separate categories. Twitter has its own third-party apps, while Facebook features Facebook apps, and Facebook gaming, which Business Insider’s infographic treats as a separate category.

Twitter applications include such items as TwitPic, StockTwits, wefollow, tweetmeme, twitvid, Listorious, and more. These services vary in their specific goals, but in general, they try to enable their users to get more personalization, functionality, or efficiency out of the microblogging site. Or in other words, they make it easier for users to pursue their personal interests through Twitter.

For example, TwitPic helps users post pictures and videos on Twitter. StockTwits dubs itself a “financial communications platform” and tries to organize Twitter streams focused on that kind of information. It also seems to have its own, separate functionality, with members and bloggers and more; it offers a “pro” service, which is in beta. Twitvid bills itself as “a social network that connects you with the latest and greatest videos on topics and people you find interesting,” presumably collecting them from Twitter. Listorious lets you find people on Twitter by topic, region or profession, and interview them by asking questions through their interface. You can add yourself to Listorious.

You can take a couple of different approaches with Twitter apps if you want to promote your company. You can do a search for Twitter apps and find some to use that work with your marketing plan. For instance, wefollow offers a list of Twitter users organized by interest, which should be pretty valuable to just about any marketer.

Or, if you’re ambitious, you can think of Twitter as a “fire hose” of information and work with someone to create a specific Twitter app that would fit the theme of your company or your goals. For example – no surprise – StockTwits was founded in 2008 by long-time investor Howard Lindzon. Maybe you can come up with a Twitter app that would appeal to your potential customers or target audience, and then promote it; every time a user consults it, they’ll be reminded of your company. If you choose this approach, you should still do a search for Twitter apps that are similar. You don’t want to reinvent the wheel; at the very least, you want to make it better.

That’s all that I have time and room for today. Next week, I’ll discuss several more social media categories and how you can use them to assist you in your marketing campaign.

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