Get the low-down on how each of the major social channels can be used to your advantage (or not)
It’s been a big year for social media, with plenty of ups and downs for the giants in the field, and a few newcomers becoming household names. It can be a bit of a headache just keeping track of it all, to say nothing of constructing a social media strategy. So here’s a quick rundown of the most popular social sites: who’s up and who’s down, but also what each set of readers is likely to be looking for, and what you can do to make each service work for you.
For our purposes, the social media world can be clustered into three groups: the social superstars that are popular right now, the up-and-comers and alternatives who have found a space on the fringe, and the also-rans that either haven’t quite caught on or had their best days several years ago. But remember that each service has its own features and a slightly different audience, and a less popular service might have something to offer that its competitors can’t match.
Google+ still has only a fraction of Facebook’s user numbers, but it’s built to leverage the infrastructure that Google has been building for years. One of its biggest draws has become Hangouts, which have grown from a venue for simple video chats to include presentations, live talk shows, and more.
The leading professional network is having a good year as well.
For years a genuine cultural phenomenon,
YouTube has solidified its place as a professional tool. Entertainers and whole media companies have emerged using YouTube as a distribution channel for media, and businesses can use YouTube channels to present videos ranging from product demonstrations to commercials.
As the king of social news,
On the Fringe
Specialization was the key for
Foursquare may have cooled off a bit from its headier years of 2010 and 2011, but it still includes more than 20 million users and launched a major redesign of its mobile app in June. It’s still a strong resources for location-based businesses. StumbleUpon feels like a perennial also-ran, but its user base has more than doubled in the last two years, reaching 25 million in June. Like Pinterest, its users are mostly female, and having been around for a decade lets it offer a robust set of features that newer services haven’t built yet.
MySpace was sent to pop-culture Siberia years ago, and for good reason: it currently ranks 193rd in global web traffic. But it’s not quite dead yet, either. The site recorded 25 million unique visitors in June, and it’s developed an identity as a social entertainment site, particularly for professional musicians. Digg went back to basics after a three-part sale in June, and now offers a slick, news-driven front page and stronger social media integration. Like StumbleUpon, its history gives it a lot of tools that can be useful if its users come back, but it still has to prove it can make that happen.
Erik Owomoyela is a social media consultant and content contributor for AEI.