These are the “Big Four” of the social media marketing world. And, they encompass about 90% of all social media marketing for most companies. In fact, according to a recent UMass-Dartmouth study, 91% of Fortune 500 level companies use Twitter, 89% use Facebook, 63% use Instagram and 98% use LinkedIn.
However, a slew of other more niche social networks exist that may help your social media marketing efforts. Any social media marketer worth their salt is exploring these new and emerging social networks each month. If you’re not doing that, you’re not doing your job.
Today, I want to touch on four of these niche networks I think are WILDLY overlooked by most marketers. I’d like to cast the spotlight on them for a moment and talk about the existing audiences you’ll find there, and the potential uses for brands (and which types of brands might find them most helpful).
Overlooked social network #1: Quora
- 190M users
- 400,000 topics
- 775,000 people access Quora each month in the U.S. alone
Quora’s probably the most niche of the four networks mentioned here. But, in spots, it can also be the most useful. Why? Because Quora is essentially a Q&A site. And people have a lot of questions. So, this is a great place for brands to establish authority by simply answering customer questions. It’s also a great place to learn about your product or service. A few simple queries can tell you what people are asking about for the issues surrounding your product or service–it’s a great research tool! Just starting there could be a big win for many businesses (and unlike other social networks, it doesn’t require constant care and feeding).
Overlooked social network #2: Pinterest
- 250M active users
- 175B+ pins
- 1 in 2 millennials use Pinterest every day
Why Pinterest? Lots of reasons! First and foremost, the long tail–pins are forever and that means long-term engagement and traffic from Pinterest. Second, Pinterest definitely influences purchase decisions. According to research, 87% of pinners have bought a product because of Pinterest! Finally, Pinterest drives traffic. A lot of traffic. According to Shareaholic, around 5% of all referral traffic to websites comes from Pinterest. This is second only to Facebook.
Overlooked social network #3: Reddit
- “Front page of the internet”
- 300M users
- 853,824 subreddits
- 58M daily votes
- Average visit: 15 minutes, 47 seconds
Why Reddit? Let’s be clear: Reddit isn’t for every brand. I say that because Reddit isn’t a marketing play the way most social networks can be. It’s a COMMUNITY play. Case in point: Brands like Microsoft that use Reddit as a customer service channel. They’re not marketing xbox, they’re simply answering questions and addressing concerns about the xbox on Reddit. Yep, Redditors have a long history of calling out and despising brand who attempt to marketing (the traditional way, at least) on Reddit. So, as a brand, you need to get creative. Like using AMAs. “Ask Me Anything” is now a popular phrase and ploy used across many social networks–but that concept started on Reddit. And, it’s a popular way for brands to interact and show up on Reddit (just ask Transamerica, who held an AMA a few years ago about).
Overlooked social network #4: Nextdoor
- 200,000 active neighborhoods
- More than 17M recommendations
- 90% of U.S. neighborhoods are active on Nextdoor
I’ve see a fair amount of what I would call “brand spam” on Nextdoor already. Brands pitching their products right in the feed. Feels completely out of place–even more so than other social networks because there’s not a ton of it yet. But, what I see REALLY working well here is government and non-profit content. The City of Minneapolis does a decent job here with regular posts about hyper-local events and to dos like street sweeping and its recent 2020 strategic plan.
I know everyone is sick to death of blog posts titled this way. Really, I am aware. However, I just couldn’t think of a better way to title this post–and I really just wanted to write about this movie today.
Because this was the best movie I’ve seen all year. Might have been the best movie I’ve seen in FIVE years. I mean, I dare you to watch this video and not tear up:
It was that good. It was that well acted (Cooper will be nominated and may win). Gaga’s voice was tremendous. The music was off-the-charts good. And even though we all knew what was coming, I loved the story (who doesn’t love a great love story?).
The reason this movie is still with me 48 hours later is the emotional connection it made with me. For the first time in a LONG time, I was completely sucked into a movie. I was locked on those characters. Sitting on their every word. Watching, transfixed, with every concert and song they performed. I mean, I was ALL IN.
And, that doesn’t happen very often at the movies. Not for me.
But this movie drew me in. How? A few different factors:
- Music. First and foremost, the music absolutely made this movie. So many great, compelling songs. From “Black Eyes” right off the bat to the powerhouse “Shallow” to my favorite “Always Remember Us This Way” the music hit me just right. It’s my kind of music. And Gaga’s tremendous voice paired with Cooper’s surprisingly capable vocals made for the perfect mix. I got chills in the theater at least 4-5 different times due to the music.
- Details. The acting was amazing–but what I noticed most was the smallest of details in the acting that made all the difference. Like how Cooper changed his voice to add a twist of gruffness to it–very similar to what Jeff Bridges did in Crazy Heart years ago (another fantastic movie if you have the time). Or, the scene with Cooper and Sam Elliott (his brother in the movie) where Elliott is driving Cooper home from rehab and he stalls when leaving the car, pauses, voice cracking, and tells Elliott it was him he idolized growing up–not his Dad. Elliott doesn’t miss a beat and drives away with tears in his eyes. Details made all the difference in the acting.
- Directing. I loved the way this film was shot. From the gritty concert footage (loved the shots of Cooper playing the guitar wildly in concert) to the closeups of Cooper and Gaga, which were tremendously powerful and heated throughout the movie. The directing made a world of difference–and Cooper knocked it out of the park here, too.
Now, what do all these things have to do with social media marketing? One word: Emotion. Like I said at the outset, this movie made a strong emotional connection with me. I’m still feeling it two days later! And, judging from the comments on a Facebook post I made about this movie the day after, I’m not alone.
Social media content–specifically, video content–should be designed, in many ways, to do that very thing. Yet, we see very little of that from brands. Oh sure, every once in a while a brand like Nike will come along and blow us away with a powerful video, but for the most part, brands struggle to create true emotional connection with their customers.
What’s more, as brands get into the programming world, this will become even more important. Think about Deluxe’s Small Business Revolution. Great example of a brand getting into broadcast programming (the show is on Hulu, after all!). As brands start creating more ongoing, long-form programming, they’d be wise to think about how they create and nurture that emotional connection.
Through music. Through details. Through direction.
Three key elements to keep in mind as you develop your video content.
Now, GO SEE A STAR IS BORN!
I’m a sucker for a good keynote presentation. Lucky for me, the MIMA Summit seems to hit home run after home run when it comes to keynotes.
This year was no different.
Unfortunately, I missed the morning keynote, otherwise I’m sure I’d be blogging about Cindy Gallop this morning. But, I did make the afternoon keynote, and I dug a lot of what entrepreneur, Scott Belsky was throwing down.
His prezo was full of those slides with standard inspirational lines. You know the ones. Like this:
But, I’m a sucker for these kinds of slides. Not because I think they’re particularly insightful, but because they typically spark some other kind of thought that leads to a bigger idea I’d be thinking about for a while.
So, I thought I’d talk about seven of these “observations” Scott had during his keynote, and what they sparked on my end:
“The future is crafted by those who do the work they don’t have to do.”
I loved this quote and it spoke directly to me as I’ve been this kind of person throughout my career. A hand-raiser. I’ve always been the kind of person who’s not afraid to tackle roles and responsibilities outside my job description. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever uttered the phrase “sorry, that’s not in my job description.” However, I’m going to disagree with Scott on this one. In my experience, the people who go above and beyond frequently get taken advantage of by the people creating the future (i.e., the bosses). It’s almost like they’re too good at what they do. Those people are too valuable in those positions, so they fail to move up. It’s one of the things that frustrated me about corporate America and I continue to see it as a consultant.
“Resourcefulness > Resources”
One thing I hear all the time from clients (especially when it comes to social media marketing): “We don’t have the resources.” Scott’s point here: Before you throw up roadblocks re: resources, determine if you’re being as resourceful as you can with your EXISTING resources. It’s a great point to keep in mind the next time you’re thinking about throwing up that roadblock. For example, do you have an intern who can help you with tasks you’re considering outsourcing? Could you use employees from across the company to create more content vs. paying an agency to do the same thing? Or, better yet, could you shift some of the money you’re still investing in print ads to those social media ads you’ve been dying to invest in (but thought you couldn’t due to a “lack of resources”). Sometimes, you don’t need more resources–you just need to be more resourceful.
“If you avoid folks who are polarizing you avoid bold outcomes.”
I actually love this quote–I just don’t happen to believe in it. I do believe involving polarizing and bold individuals to your team can lead to bold outcomes. Sometimes, you need that big personality to stir the pot and get the team moving in a different (and bold) direction. But, I also think often times those “polarizing” individuals are also assholes (pardon my French). And, I don’t really like working with assholes. So, I don’t work with assholes because I believe I can achieve “bold outcomes” without working with assholes. So, I guess I actually violently disagree with Scott here. Don’t put up with assholes. Life’s WAY too short.
“Share ideas liberally.”
I wrote a post a few years ago about my “top 10 dream jobs.” The idea: To share my dreams with the hope that some friend, family member or acquaintance could help connect the dots and make an introduction to one of those dream clients. That didn’t happen in this case, but I came close in a few situations. People tried. Made intros. It worked. This is the same concept–and a mindset I’ve adopted on this blog years ago. It’s served me fairly well.
“Be the bureaucracy breaker.”
Easily my favorite quote of the presentation–and of the entire MIMA Summit. One of the biggest frustrations most folks will tell you about working in the corporate world is all the red tape. All the things you do year after year because “that’s the way we’ve always done it.”All the rules and sacred cows that exist for God knows what reason. Bureaucracy comes with the territory in corporate America, I’ve learned. But, that doesn’t make it right. Corporations could achieve more of the bold outcomes they’re looking for if they had more people who just said one more more often: WHY? Simply asking “why?” would help break down some of these bureaucracies and tear through some of this red tape. It would also help question why certain things are done the way they’re done–examining existing processes and decisions is always a good thing. Start asking annoying questions like “why”–it may not make you popular, but it will lead to better results in the long-term.
“When you start getting attention, you stop paying attention.”
This quote is all about ego. Essentially, when you start achieving success you also tend to stop paying attention to the details and work that got you to where you are. I see this in my own career arc. I remember back to when I was starting my business nine years ago. I was hungry. REALLY hungry. I NEEDED to succeed. At all costs. And, over the past nine years, I’ve been pretty successful. But, keeping that level of intensity is tough. It’s hard to maintain the same level of hunger you had when you were first starting. Just ask Rocky Balboa! 🙂
“Double down on curiosity.”
May apply more to digital and social media marketing than just about any other discipline on earth. Why? Because our field is constantly changing. Doubling down on curiosity is almost a requirement in our industry! So you think you mastered Facebook advertising? Well, they just added five new features that you need to now learn about. You think you’re familiar with all social media channels? Just wait until a client asks you how to execute a paid campaign on Nextdoor! In order to succeed in our world, an insatiable curiosity is a “must have.” Always be doubling down on curiosity.
It’s that time of year–yes, trend season is underway, my social media friends! You’re likely to see no fewer than 2.1 million trend posts between now and Dec. 31. ENJOY!
Most of these trend posts, mind you, will be complete and utter garbage. In fact, many of them are literally cut-and-pasted from last year’s trend posts. So, each year, I attempt to provide a little more meat to the trend discussion by sharing my own, pragmatic predictions based on real numbers and trend lines I’ve seen throughout the year. That post is coming in the next couple weeks.
In the meantime, I thought I’d ask some of the best and brightest in social media marketing in the Twin Cities what they think lies ahead. I asked six people working in social media marketing with some of Minnesota’s biggest and most successful companies this question. Here’s what they had to say:
Eric Ellis, Global Social Media Lead, Honeywell
Rather than concentrate on platform changes, or the new, “coolest” social media platform or enhancement, I’ll give you my thoughts on an evolution I’ve seen, somewhat Honeywell based perhaps, but something I’ve seen with some of my peers too.
Finally, I’m starting to see social media as an actual business driver. Of the platform trends and evolution of them, the advent of pay-to-play for brands has probably been the most impactful and emphasized the need to demonstrate ROI. Like any other pay-for medium, if brands are putting dollars behind the effort, they need to see the return. Which also leads to more sophistication like actual campaign tracking (UTM parameters, etc), adding social tracking devices to websites (pixels, etc), retargeting ads, etc. I’ve noticed a lot more questions from peers on how to add tracking efforts, so it appears that more brands are jumping in. Social is now, astonishingly, part of the marketing mix. One of my peers actually referred to social as “Demand Gen”, to which maybe was a tad too far. But, it means that the C-suite has finally put their money where their mouths are. Instead of just “being on social” because the cool kids were, or it was a brand risk to not be, we’re now getting funding to do it right.
Internally, I’m having less and less of the conversation with my work colleagues defending social as not a free medium. It’s now almost always a given that if my businesses want to put something up on social, it most definitely needs funding.
While we as social marketers have complained about all the algorithm changes and that it killed organic reach, we should be praising Zuckerberg and the others… what they actually did was make social media, dare I say, mainstream. We now have a seat at the grown up table. Gulp!
Social is no longer only about pretty pictures and “connecting” with your brand advocates, it’s driving business objectives, and not the fluffy “brand awareness” type.
Christina Milanowski, Social Media Manager, Regis Corp.
Keep an eye on your prose. 👁 📖
In today’s newsfeed, we have to grab attention literally in a matter of seconds. We’re competing with a deluge of other social content at a time when organic reach is nearing an all-time low.
How will you create thumb-stopping social in 2019? This is hard for a journalism major to admit, but cut the characters! Studies show we can communicate with emotion better through emojis, gifs and stickers. Bring your social presence to life through fewer words and more visuals.
Did you know 5B emojis are sent each day on Facebook Messenger? In 2019, we’ll see emoji keyboards expand to make it even easier to find relevant emojis for our social media posts and community management. We’re at 2,823 emojis and counting!
Recent stats show more than a quarter of internet users 18-34 actively use Giphy, which supplies gifs to Facebook, Twitter, Tinder, Slack, Twitch, and text keyboards. I predict more brands will build their own Instagram stickers and branded gifs.
With more than 400M daily users and relatively high engagement, Instagram Stories will be critical for organic and paid social media plans.
We’ve been talking about social video for a few years now—yes, focus on that! But, also (somehow) we’ll need to plan for videos to be even shorter. Think: 6- and 15-second videos.
Our focus on producing engaging content – augmented by short(er) video, disappearing stories, emojis and gifs – will be more important than ever.
David Jungers, Social Media Intelligence Manager, Optum
Ryan Roddy, Social Media Consultant, HealthPartners
Facebook, Amazon and/or Google will make an impactful move toward streaming live American professional sports.
At the end of the day, can’t they simply outbid Disney, CBS Corp and Comcast for broadcast rights? They platforms have been sliding into this space for a while now (Amazon with Thursday-night NFL and some Premier League games, Facebook with the MLB, MLS and Spanish soccer league, La Liga, Twitter with the NBA and WNBA, etc.), but I foresee something bigger in the coming year. Don’t get me wrong, Americans will bristle at the idea of spending fall weekends staring at a 5-in. screen vs. a 65-in. one, but I struggle to see this never happening. I think it’s just a matter of time.
On a more local level, if something like that comes to fruition, it’ll be interesting to see how it impacts the perception of social within agencies and corporate marketing departments. Currently, social seems to ride this fine line between marketing and PR/communications/branding at many organizations throughout the Twin Cities. Although mostly a Comms baby in the early days, marketing teams seem to be playing a bigger role now as achieving impact on social platforms increasingly depends on media dollars.
Lauren Lillehaug, Global Social Media Strategist, 3M
2019 will be an interesting year for social media data and targeting capabilities, particularly with the many companies that have come forward this year admitting to selling or losing protected personal data. Targeting capabilities never cease to amaze me (and creep me out) so I can only guess that 2019 will bring even more effective (maybe?) and creepier (absolutely) targeting capabilities and exploiting of said data. Even more interesting (scary?) will be to see how 2019 unfolds on the internet overall, with the repeal of net neutrality. This is a topic that could deeply affect the digital world in which we live in.
Caitlin Rick, Social Media Strategist, Explore Minnesota
Last week, for the first time, I saw a 3D photo in my Facebook feed. It was from friend and Fallon employee, Greg Swan–a pic of his dog. It was a little jarring as the pic moved just a bit as I scrolled by it.
Users and brands will all soon be able to take and post these 3D pics–but you need to be using an iPhone 7 or newer phone in portrait mode (I’m one of the laggards still using a 6s!). You’ll also need to have the capability on Facebook, which should show up directly below your post on Facebook–right in the of post options (photo, video, Live, etc.).
A day later, Greg astutely pointed out this post from Ritas may be the first brand 3D post on Facebook (I’d love to hear of others if you’ve seen them!). Again, a little jarring–just enough to make me stop in my tracks when shuffling through my feed. Mission accomplished for Ritas, I guess!
I’m guessing we’ll see a host of brands playing with this new piece of functionality in the next few weeks.
For now, the question is: Will 3D imagery become a real thing for social media marketers?
My guess: this will be something many brands experiment with in the weeks ahead, but I’m not sure it will “stick” for most brands. Why? A couple big reasons:
What’s the upside of 3D?
It’s certainly cool. It’s certainly thumb-stopping. But, what’s the real upside of 3D images? Will they lead to more engagement on Facebook? After the initial novelty wears off, my guess is that they won’t. It’s just not enough of a game-changer at this point.
What makes a great 3D photo?
I know we’ll see many brands play around with 3D pics for the remainder of 2018. But, how will brands decide what makes a great 3D pic? I mean, look at the Ritas pic. I get it–they’re experimenting. They were among (if not, THE FIRST) to use the technology. And, I love the headline. But, how does a straight-up product shot best take advantage of 3D? What would for a brand like that? To me, this seems like something everyone will say “cool” about for the first month or so, and then completely forget about after.
On the flip side, I do like 3D photos for brands for one big reason: They add another layer of depth to your content. Think about all the formats you have to choose from on Facebook alone at this point: Photos, text, video, live video, 360 photos, and now, 3D photos.
Using even a handful of those different formats on a regular basis gives you the chance to lend true depth to your content–more of a personal feel via video; more of an “on the spot” feel with live video; and more of an immersive experience with 360 and 3D pics.
Let me know if you see any other brands playing around with these 3D pics–I’d love to curate some of the early adopters!