Q: What is “social media” and why are web designers and website developers offering a service called “social media marketing”? The short answer: Social Media is a collection of web-based applications that users can join and interact with each other on. What makes them so popular are that they are run on the foundations of user-generated content; people share images, videos, links and a lot more!
Now that social media sites are the most widely visited websites every day, users have evolved from being individuals using the site for personal use to companies, businesses and even products being marketed online! Social Media Marketing is a means to stay in touch with customers, gain new clients and promote business across a virtual platform, conveniently available worldwide, making it an extremely effective advertising source!
Today, we’ll look at some of the most popular social media sites, stay tuned for more social media updates and advanced information.
Facebook, having reached its 500 millionth user in July 2010, is the most popular social network available. Users can create profiles and list information about themselves while communicating with their friends, family, coworkers, clients, etc.
Click here to check out Facebook’s very own Facebook Page. Their main tabs include their Wall, Photos, Resources, Facebook Live and Newsroom. These enforce their main objectives by keeping users informed via media and link updates, providing additional contact and social networking links as well as resources to open developers, advertisers, press and general users. Facebook Live makes use of video (and celebrity) interviews, while others offer individual experiences sent in by Facebook users. Generally, your Facebook Page acts like a ‘hub’ to express your most important information and allow connectivity between yourself and your friends and clientele.
Fun Fact: October 1, 2010 marked the release date of The Social Network, a film based on Mark Zuckerberg, the Harvard undergrad and computer programming genius behind Facebook.
Twitter is known for its “tweets” which are user text-based status updates that have a 140 character limit. By joining Twitter you are not only able to create a user-profile and post tweets, but you can choose to “follow” other users by subscribing to their feed.
Created in 2006, Twitter has more than 100 million users worldwide, with tweet content ranging from mindless babble, to self promotion, to news, to conversational, to spam. Studies have suggested that Twitter retains a higher percentage of older adults in its demographics, due to its simplicity of use and lack of intricacies.
Not only can you use the website, but users can also send and receive tweets via compatible external applications that can be found on mobile devices such as smart phones and in sites like Facebook and WordPress via plugins.
Fun Fact: When you see URLs like bit.ly or ow.ly, this is a shortening URL service that was created in part due to the character limit that Twitter installed. Running a full web address link through these will provide you with a shortened URL, enabling you to use most of your tweet for content and supplying a shorter page link.
LinkedIn, launched in 2003, is a business networking website used by owners, entrepreneurs and freelancers. As of August 2010, LinkedIn had more than 75 million registered users who maintain contact lists of people they know and trust in business. People use LinkedIn to search for jobs, as well as a means to connect and with use of gated-access (contact with another user requires a previous relationship or a mutual connection) the art of networking is truly at work.
Fun Fact: In October 2008, LinkedIn enabled a platform that allows other online applications to be embedded within a member’s profile page. In true networking fashion, you can now automatically include your Twitter and Blog (RSS feeds) updates right in your LinkedIn profile.
YouTube is the most popular video posting and sharing entity online today. This isn’t as general a means of social media marketing as Facebook or Twitter because not every service or company needs or has videos to share. However, in early 2008 YouTube had over 78 million registered users with over 150,000 videos being uploaded each day and over 5 billion videos being viewed in one month alone. These stats suggest the marketing value has a fairly high potential when you aren’t factoring in the competition.
Brand channels were set up for companies to set up their own page featuring their various videos. If you are a business or company offering a product or service viable of having a video archive, this may be an option for you.
Fun Facts: Three former PayPal employees created YouTube in February 2005. In November 2006, YouTube, LLC was bought by Google Inc. for $1.65 billion, and now operates as a subsidiary of Google. In July 2008, Viacom won a court ruling requiring YouTube to hand over data detailing the viewing habits of every user who has watched videos on the site. Countries that have in the past or are currently boycotting YouTube include: Thailand, People’s Republic of China, Morocco, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and Libya.
MySpace was, to most, the original social networking site before competing with Facebook after its launch. While Facebook led to more social networking, MySpace began delving more into music promotion and networking. Although regular users can sign up for MySpace, musicians get different profile options allowing them to upload discographies and songs. It was this functionality that paved the way for up and coming musicians and singers to get a foothold with the listeners and build up a fan-base. Artists, such as Lily Allen, get their ‘big break’ from MySpace.
Fun Fact: MySpace also allows users to customize their profile pages by use of HTML/CSS coding so no two pages may look the same, (if you know how to type your website development programming language). It is because of this functionality that many artists, bands and even movies use their MySpace page as their official promotional website.
6. Blogs and RSS Feeds (featuring WordPress)
Blogs (‘web’ + ‘log’) are online journals that can act as a full website or a web page or side-site. Blogs are normally maintained by one user who makes multiple entries over time while they are published online for others to read and comment on, which make them socially interactive. Most function as news providers, while others may act more like personal diaries and they now also come in a variety of styles such as text-based blogs, photo blogs, video blogs, podcasting blogs, and the earlier mentioned microblog (Twitter or Tumblr).
WordPress originally began as a blogging system for users to create accounts and profiles, select from a number of themes to customize the look and feel of their blog, and post their entries. Over time, WordPress has evolved into a CMS (Content Management System) which allows users to develop and maintain complex websites that are entirely editable by the users with administrative login capabilities.
Fun Fact: There are two versions of WordPress, so its important to clarify what you need. WordPress.com is a free hosting service that offers users an easy way to deploy a blog online without the need to design, develop and host your own. Here you choose from themes to style your blog and your website address would look something like: be3designs.wordpress.com. WordPress.org is the more advanced version of WordPress that requires you to download the entire WP application and install on your own web server and set up your own back-end database system. This enables developers to create their own theme and functionality while simultaneously building a CMS website.
RSS (Really Simply Syndication) are web feeds that alert subscribers to updates in blogs or websites. The RSS channel typically contains summarized text from the blog entry along with a link to the full document. While users can be updated on the sites they want to stay up-to-date with, they can also aggregate multiple feeds into one convenient place using a feed reader.