Today’s Top Social Media Networks

As a marketing consultant, businesses often ask me which social media networks they should include in their marketing plans. The number of social media networks is skyrocketing beyond yesterday’s trifecta of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (although those are still the top three!). It can be dizzying to learn about these networks, let alone to decide if they make marketing sense for your business.

Based on my experience, here’s a quick primer on today’s top social media networks (and if they might fit into your social media marketing).


Brand with personality and loyal customers, like locally-owned shops, thrive on Facebook, where showing your friends you ‘like’ a brand is part of your online persona. Engage fans with quick polls, contests, pictures, videos and the occasional special deal. If you invest in Facebook advertising, also invest the time to make your Facebook Page a “hangout” for customers. For some ideas, here’s a podcast with Facebook Marketing Tips.


Most apparently, people who know things find their home sharing that knowledge on Twitter– speakers, authors, scientists, journalists, software engineers and other subject-area experts. Brands connect with these influential customers to grow loyalty and get publicity, like Morton’s Steakhouse did in their famous airport delivery to a Twitter follower. Learn some Twitter lingo with this article, “Should I be on Twitter?


Professionals mull around LinkedIn, connecting with friends and colleagues while seeking new clients, new jobs or endorsements. Many companies successfully use LinkedIn as a recruiting tool.


With a user-base that is overwhelmingly female, Pinterest is a visual site for collecting virtual pin-boards of things that interest you. Brands must carefully join these conversations– promoting oneself too obviously will ensure your “pins” are ignored. If Pinterest users sound like your customer base, engage them with stories and environments that subtly include products and services.


Although this video-sharing site doesn’t fit the conventional definition of “social media,” it can be crucial for hosting and sharing videos of interest to your network. Now, these videos can also be repurposed with Google AdWords. For businesses with interesting, funny or informative content, such as veterinarians or resorts, video can be a powerful marketing tool.


Restaurants and, increasingly, other local service businesses definitely belong on Yelp. This review site’s diligent work in building a community of reviewers and users paid off— Yelp will power Microsoft’s Bing local results, and this fall it will become part of Apple’s Maps application on the iPhone and iPad. For a more detailed look, see my article, “Yelp for Small Business Marketing.”


If you are in the travel business, have you looked up your TripAdvisor reviews? If your reviews aren’t stellar, you can partner with TripAdvisor through their business listings– and even if they are, you may want to offer special offers or appear at the top of search results.


This picture-sharing network was recently purchased by Facebook, but it’s still a force in its own right. Users subscribe to others’ photo streams, including brands they like or find interesting. Instagram has an interesting look at how some brands are using their network.

On October 5 in Anchorage, I’ll be joining some of Alaska’s top small business leaders for the Getting Down to Business® Conference. In my “Marketing Matters: Social Media” workshop, we’ll discuss the top social media networks, which ones should have a place in your marketing plan and how to tell if they are profitable. I’ll make the complex and diverse world of social media clear with straightforward explanations and common-sense examples. If you’re a small business in Alaska, you’ll want to stay-tuned for conference details.

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