There are a lot of new social media sites out there. But let’s face it. Not all of them were created equal. There were a lot of sites that were good, but not great, that had to be weeded out. Here, we present the Top 5 New Social Media Sites that brands and businesses should be watching, if they’re not already.
Many writers have debated whether or not Google+ will be able to topple Facebook, but the point is moot. Who really cares? What businesses should be looking at is how Google+ functions differently from Facebook and how they can lean from this. One of the most important features of Google+ is the Ripples application. Ripples shows the extent of influence of a user’s post. If a publicly-shared post is re-shared, and then re-shared by others, it shows up as a larger ripple. This application makes it easy to see who, and what, has the most clout on the social media site. Brands should perk up their ears on Google+ to see who is talking about their product, and who’s actually being listened to.
Even though Bandcamp currently only functions as a social media site to help bands and musicians connect with new listeners, it offers an interesting model that brands and businesses should keep an eye on. The site allows bands to upload liner notes and songs for free streaming, and lets them set the prices for download. The site also connects users, encouraging them to share music recommendations with each other on the site, as well as posting to other more ubiquitous social media sites, such as Facebook and MySpace. However, what really makes Bandcamp a site to watch is its user analytics. Through the site, bands can see which of their songs were played and which ones were skipped, as well as review the direct links to where their songs where shared and posted online. This gives bands the opportunity to directly respond to their fans’ postings, and extend their direct person-to-person influence over multiple other social media sites.
Commonly dubbed “the Facebook for grocers,” Foodie.fm allows consumers to share recipes, and can create shopping lists that break down the necessary ingredients based on what recipes users add to their lists, helping plan meals. The site also monitors a user’s habits and suggests recipes and groceries based on past purchase history. With British supermarket Tesco’s recent subscription to Foodie.fm, which merges Tesco’s online grocery store with Foodie.fm’s recipe recommendation services, Foodie.fm could bring social media into an area never thought to connect with social media: home cooking. This site gives food businesses the advantage of seeing how their products are used once they leave the grocery store, and can give them insight into creating effective packaging, designing new foods, and finding out what people really like about their products.
GetGlue is site where users can “check in” for their favorite shows, movies, music, and books, and then interact with other users who recently checked in for the same item. Although the structure honestly isn’t that much different from Twitter (posts are categorized item rather than hashtag), GetGlue is unique in one very important way: stickers. Based on a user’s check in history and frequency, GetGlue will award that user a digital “sticker.” However, every 30 days, a user can cash in on his or her stickers and GetGlue will send real-life versions of those stickers to the user’s home address. Through this, GetGlue mixes status updates with a competitive twist, which the results in winning real-life swag that only furthers promotion for the specific books, movies, and bands that the user is interested it. GetGlue is an important new social media site because it reminds brands that social media isn’t just about sharing, it’s also about competition.
Perhaps the most approachable of the five new social media sites listed is Pinterest, in which users create their own virtual themed pinboards that they can share. The Pinterest website explains, “People use their pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and share their favorite recipes.” In my usage, I’ve also seen people use their pinboards to conglomerate how-to videos for hairstyling, collect images of their favorite foods, and self-promote their photography careers. Users can either add their own “pins,” or peruse other users’ pinboards and pick up items that they like. Pinterest makes it easy for businesses to track what consumers like about their products, especially on a visual level. Because Pinterest functions on the idea that everything can be collected, and put into a group with other related objects, allows brands to gain a more subtle understanding of how their product is perceived by the masses. Pinterest lets brands see (literally) where their products sit in regard to social sub-cultures, so they know how to position themselves to create bigger impact.
Each of the five sites I’ve shared here functions very differently. Though all social media sites, by very definition, seek to engage users and bring them into contact with other users, each site has a different unique purpose at its core. Google+ Ripples is transparent about its purpose in tracking an individual user’s clout and internet presence, while GetGlue encourages users to learn about new shows and movies by competing with other users to win stickers. Pinterest tracks the way people think about brands and objects in relation to other brands and objects, while Foodie.fm seeks to bring social media into one of the most non-social aspects of our personal lives, grocery shopping. Bandcamp stands out because it allows bands to connect to their fans on a very personal level across all forms of social media. Each of these very distinct purposes for our Top 5 New Social Sites show us one thing: that social media is malleable to a wide range of diverse purposes. You just need to find the perfect platform for yours. Brands, keep an eye on these sites. We sure are.