How to utilise new social media trends for business

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March 10, 2012

The face of social media is constantly changing, and if you want to market your brand properly, it’s important to understand them. Here, we offer some tips and tricks to help you make the most of top new social media trends for your business.

1. Storify – The application to make history

Social networks have become the primary means to consume and share information, but with so many available, information can become very scattered and disorganised. A tweet here, a video there, but nothing unifying them to a common theme. This is particularly pertinent for businesseswho want to take advantage of the full range of social networks available to market themselves, but worry that fans may never come across all the information they’re putting out.

Storify is the hot new application that allows users to create linear stories that document elements from various social networks. With Storify, users can easily click and drag parts of the story they want to create. You can embed YouTube videos, tweets and Flickr photos, and add comments.

So a business could create a story around the launch of a new product – YouTube videos of the product launch, Facebook feedback from users, foursquare locations of where it’s being sold.This allows the event to be contextualised, and creates a narrative around it to engage fans. Thus, an event is no longer a scattered collection of tweets, status updates and photographs, but sends a clear message.

Media outlets such as the Washington Post and New York Times have used it to publish information about events documented in social networks, in an orderly fashion that makes sense to their followers. One of the best aspects of Storify is that the snippets taken from the different platforms maintain their functionality – for example, you can still share or retweet.

The application is now available for iPhone and iPad. Nexus and PlayBook reviews suggest that it will be available on additional platforms soon.

  1. Facebook Timeline

Facebook Timeline has been slowly taking over more and more Facebook profiles, and just this month it was rolled out for business pages.This is perhaps one of the most drastic changes in the design of profile pages on Facebook since its inception. A lot of critique has been reported, both complimentary and derogatory, but what’s clear is that with around with around 150 million users in the US alone, businesses need to keep up with each new change in order to stay relevant to their fans.

The primary changes are visual. Apart from the classic profile picture, the user can now upload a background or ‘cover’ photo. Going down on the page, you can also see a small line that shows the date of birth (in Facebook) up until the present. This linechronologically lists the most important dates in the life of the user on Facebook. Other important dates are highlighted and presented in separate frames, mainly related to important events such as job change, change in relationships and birth.

Here are some points to think about when designing your Facebook Timeline for business:

(a)   Business pages no longer have customized default landing pages for users that aren’t fans – users will be directed straight to your Wall.  So it’s worth thinking about what new potential fans will see, and how you can convert them.

(b)   The cover photo area is the biggest and more noticeable opportunity for branding and promotional imagery, so make sure you take advantage of it.

(c)    The profile picture is now constrained to square dimensions, so make sure your old picture isn’t cropped awkwardly. There are some great creative designs that use both the profile picture and the cover photo for a combined visual. These can provide great inspiration for how to design your header bar.

(d)   A new feature allows you to ‘pin’ a post to the top of the timeline, for seven days or until you want to take it down. This is great for particular promotions or announcements that you want to remain in fans’ consciousnesses.

(e)   The central idea of Timeline is showing the history of a person or brand. Starting from the business’s creation, add pictures, videos and stories from significant events in your business’s past. This gives fans a fuller representation of what you do, and the transparency will make fans feel more closely related to your brand.

  1. Pinterest

Pinterest is a virtual pinboard, which allows users to organise and share beautiful and interesting content they find on the web. The members of the network have different motivations for publishing pictures – wedding photos are incredibly popular, as areinterior decorating and recipes – and users can follow pinboards they find interesting or relevant.

For brands, Pinterest is an excellent opportunity to store and share your brand’s images, helping to drive traffic to your company website or to help sell products. Pinterest’s popularity has grown exponentially in the last few months, and with 10 million unique users, it’s a platform that simply can’t be ignored. Pinterest drives more traffic to brand sites than YouTube, LinkenIn and Google+ combined, with some sites reporting a 446% increase in traffic.

Any image or video can be posted, but some things are more successful than others. It’s not enough to simply post promotional content, as this jars with the unwritten rules of what’s ok to share. Spam is absolutely out of the question. It has to be something that is really visually attractive, inspirational or aspirational. What’s more, a pin will have more power the more widely it is shared (or ‘repinned’), so look at what else is popular for an indication of what people find interesting. As with all social media, the most powerful content is viral.

Some brands jumped on the bandwagon early, and are making great use of everything it offers. For example, Mashabletake their website content but remove the words for a fascinating array of gadget, web humor,infographics and social media.Etsyhave swiftly increased the number of purchases through their site by posting purchasable items, gift ideas and inspirations along with purchase price.

Another success story is Whole Foods, whouse the site to convey the brand philosophy that is central to their success – caring about the community and environment, promoting healthy eating, selling high quality organic and natural foods, and creating ongoing partnerships with their suppliers. Michael Bepko, global online community manager for Whole Foods explains “It allows us to curate images from across the web that really speak to who we are as a company, images that reflect our core values and essentially communicate the essence of who we are.”

Bear in mind that at the moment, it’s still necessary to get an invitation from a current user to join Pinterest.

We hope these tips and tricks help you to make the most of new social media trends. The nature of the game is that it will all have changed again in a year’s time, but that’s what keeps it interesting!

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