Social Media to Best Suit Your Brand

Jun 02, 2009 9:39 AM  By

Social media marketing is here to stay, and, as we keep stressing, search and social have become one. As this important marketing channel continues to experience exponential growth and change, new opportunities surface daily.

So what’s the difference between a social sharing site and a social networking site? What separates social news sites from social bookmarking and social review sites? Does it even matter?

It does. With each type of social media comes different rules, a different audience, different user expectations and different preferences—all of which can affect the success of your campaign.

By breaking down the various types of social sites below, you’ll gain a better understanding of the differences and how each can be used to your advantage—before you launch your campaign.

Social sharing sites: These sites exist as vessels for exchanging information of all forms, from written reviews to rich media. Social sharing sites make user generated content instantly available to millions of users and site visitors.

A few social sharing sites you may be familiar with include YouTube and MetaCafe, which allow users to upload and share videos; and Flickr, where over 24 million users upload videos and photos each month. Social sharing sites tend to draw a more youthful, male slanted audience.

Social networking sites: These sites focus on building communities of users that share common interests and hobbies and include those who are interested in learning about the lives and hobbies of others. They serve as a means for friends, family and peers to stay connected as well as a way to meet new people. Social networking sites encourage communication between users with tools like e-mail, instant messaging and real-time postings on an individual’s social profile.

Among the most popular social networking sites are Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn. While LinkedIn’s primary focus is connecting those within the professional world, sites like Facebook now offer separate user profiles for businesses as well. Social networking sites continue cultivating new advancements, and the tools and applications associated with each are developing and maturing at astonishing rates.

Social news sites: The main purpose of social news sites is to exchange newsworthy information. They operate much like social sharing sites, with users submitting videos, photos, news and articles for others to view. One popular social news site is Digg. Here, users (“the community”) submit news, articles, videos and images for other users to vote (or “Digg”) on which submissions they liked best. The most popular will appear on the front page for millions to see. Other social news sites include Mixx, Reddit and Propeller.

Social bookmarking sites: These sites allow users to store, organize, search and manage their favorite Web pages online. Bookmarks are usually public and can be shared with specific people or groups. Popular social bookmarking sites include Delicious, Blinklist, Diggo and Simpy.

Social review sites: These sites serve as consumer review platforms that provide users with advice, testimonials, product evaluations and personal recommendations. Users can read and post reviews on a variety of items and topics. Some popular social review sites include ePinions, Buzzillions, Omgili, Viewpoints and Yelp.

By understanding the different types of social media, you can effectively guide your company’s integrated marketing plan towards the best sites that fit your distinct needs. While all social media connect users through communications platforms, the framework and audience of each is different.

So be sure to do your homework first: Decide where and how you want your brand’s presence established before diving in.

Lisa Wehr is CEO/founder of digital marketing agency Oneupweb (www.oneupweb.com).