Over the Christmas break, I happened to be in Detroit with family enjoying the last days of the Walter P. Chrysler Museum. Shortly after we left, the inevitable discussion of where to eat came up. So I did what every good American now does and grabbed my cell phone. But I didn't fire up Facebook. Or Twitter. I started tapping icons for many social media outlets that many businesses don't even consider.
It seems that we've become so dependent on Facebook and Twitter to deliver us our social media fix, that we forget that there are many more avenues, some that might even be of higher quality, than the ones that make the nightly news. Since your social media should be part of an overall marketing plan, it's important to not just jump in head first, but to determine which sites fit best for your objectives. Some of the sites that I think we too often overlook are:
You might be rolling your eyes a little at this point since everyone knows about, and visits, YouTube. But do you work it into your overall social media plan? Even though it became the second largest search engine almost three years ago, it's often overlooked in many people's minds. Not only does YouTube act as a search engine, both alone and in Google's overall results, but it forces you to make great video content to be shared elsewhere. The site also is great for many companies where a site that requires constant updates isn't viable, but having less frequent, more in-depth, content is required.
Yelp, TripAdvisor, Urbanspoon
These are sites that are at the top of my list if I'm traveling. If your business has, in any way, the opportunity to attract an inconsistent customer base (hotels, restaurants, attractions, bars, retail establishments, gas stations, etc.), these sites should be on your radar. Not only do these sites collect user reviews, which can be valuable feedback, but they also offer GPS options that plot your business on a visitor's map. Many decisions on where to go and what to do are made via these apps in cars everywhere.
Another site that has been around for awhile, but is often forgotten. Once you claim your business, you can get access to analytics that show you who is checking in to your location, who pushed their update to Facebook or Twitter, when people are checking in to your business, and get email updates about new reviews and photos. By keeping track of who is, or isn't checking in to your business, you can entice once frequent visitors to come back through interactions on other sites. Did you also know that Foursquare will send you a promotional packet that you can use to create special deals for people who check in, or create events within the app?
Another Google property that is too often overlooked for businesses is Google Places. This is another opportunity to optimize your social media for search by adding business hours, addresses and photos to a match for your company name. By using social media to elevate information for your business name, you can focus on optimizing SEO for other keywords on your website. Google Places also allows users to rate and review your business, so be on the lookout for negative reviews (and positive ones!).
While this may be another site that many people know about, the better question is "how are you leveraging photos in your social media?" The site, better known for its creative filters than the social aspect, is now part of the Facebook ecosystem. This app allows even the inexperienced photographer to create interesting photos that can easily be posted to your Instagram account as well as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare and Flickr instantly. Instagram has now added a web based platform to display your photos as well.
Here's one that may not have made it to the mainstream, but may be worth keeping an eye on. Perch is the "the app for small business". The goal of the app is to be able to give you a bird's eye view of all the businesses in your area. Using GPS, it will provide a list of businesses around you. It then aggregates all of the information it can find on each business - Yelp reviews, Instagram photos, Facebook pages, and Foursquare check ins. It is also useful as an example of how this entire ecosystem of pages, posts, reviews, photos and video all fits together to create a total picture of your business.
When the topic of social media comes up next, be sure to remember that not everything happens on Facebook. There's a whole wide world out there, be sure to explore it!