Social media is a vital part of online branding and marketing, and the numbers prove it:
According to MarketingSherpa, 95% of adults aged 18-34 are most likely follow brands on social platforms; an Ambassador study revealed that 71% of consumers who have had a good social media experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others or write positive online reviews; and research by We Are Social shows there are 2.56 billion social media users globally, and 1 million new users are joining their ranks daily.
Social media powerhouses like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter will remain the most influential places for businesses to reach their audiences, but accusations suggesting that Facebook is gaming its algorithms so business users have to pay for ads to reach followers who used to automatically see every post are helping push many companies and brands to look beyond the Big Four social networks for online marketing and promotional efforts.
Here are four lesser-used social media platforms worth trying to reach fresh audiences, extend your brand's awareness and drive traffic to your website.
Pinterest is an addictive, visually-oriented social networking site where users post or "pin," share and organize collections of pictures they find on the Internet or just browse other users' collections. Companies large and small have successfully connected with large numbers of followers on the site.
But finding success on Pinterest requires completely different approach than on other social media sites. The platform is the ideal place to promote businesses who sell home decor, food and other beautifully photographed products. Users can promote pins to targeted audiences and incorporate paid social campaigns to extend their reach and increase traffic. Perhaps the best thing about Pinterest is that half of all of the platform's users have purchased an item after seeing a promoted pin.
Google+, Google's Facebook-style social media network, may at first glance appear to be virtually empty, but as the platform evolves it's shaping up to be a useful tool for businesses of all types and sizes. Businesses are allowed to quickly and easily set up individual pages, where you can share messages, photos, videos and links, just like on Facebook.
As an added bonus, Google+ is integrated with many other Google tools. Google+ Local and Google Maps can draw on a business' Google+ page to display better and more accurate information about that company when someone searches for it. In addition to sharing updates and photos on the network, Google+ users can also hold Hangouts, video conferencing sessions, send event invitations to each other's calendar and more.
Snapchat, the popular photo-messaging app with more than 150 million active users, works by letting users send photos and videos, called Snaps, to their followers and friends, which can be viewed for up to 10 seconds before they disappear. For business, Snapchat offers a variety of ad formats with some impressive audience targeting capabilities that have been successfully used by beloved brands including Starbucks, MTV and Apple Music.
In a testing survey with MediaScience, Snapchat compared its video ads with those on TV, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Targeting consumers aged 16 to 56, the study found that Snapchat ads received twice the visual attention of Facebook, 1.5 times more than Instagram and were 1.3 times more effective than YouTube, while generating a greater emotional response and twice as much intent to purchase as TV advertisements.
Owned by Yahoo, Tumblr is a community-oriented social network and multimedia microblogging platform with more than 345 million unique monthly users that hosts some 434 million blogs. Businesses can set up a micro-blog to post news, updates, event notices, product announcements or anything else. Followers can subscribe to a specific account.
Tumblr is one of the most mobile-friendly publishing platforms, and it offers numerous free and premium blog designs. If you happen to use both Tumblr and Facebook for business, you can integrate Tumblr posts into your Facebook timeline. And unlike Facebook, which makes users content available only to its members, Tumblr blogs can be accessed directly from the Web, Tumblr's content is indexed by search engines, which can increase your company or brand's search visibility.
In the increasingly crowded digital space, it doesn't hurt to experiment with less-trafficked social platforms to seek out ways to connect with customers. You might be surprised to find the entirely new audience that you've been searching for.