By Consumer Dummies

Part of Small Business Marketing Strategies All-in-One For Dummies Cheat Sheet

There are hundreds of websites that would qualify as social media. The phrase social media marketing generally refers to using these online services for relationship selling — selling based on developing rapport with customers. Social media services make innovative use of new online technologies to accomplish the familiar communication and marketing goals of this form of selling.

The tried-and-true strategies of marketing (such as solving customers’ problems and answering the question, “What’s in it for me?”) are still valid. Social media marketing is a new technique, not a new world. You can categorize social media services, but they have fuzzy boundaries that can overlap. Some social media sites fall into multiple categories. For instance, some social networks and online communities allow participants to share photos and include a blog.

  • Social content-sharing services facilitate posting and commenting on text, videos, photos, and podcasts (audio). Examples include blogs such as WordPress, Tumblr, and Blogger. Video services can be grouped here, such as YouTube and Vimeo. Flickr, Snapchat, and Instagram allow you to share photos, and Podbean and BlogTalkRadio are for audio blogs.
  • Social networking services offer multiple functions. From a business point of view, many social networking services support subgroups that allow the potential for more targeted marketing. Common types of social networking services include full networks, such as Facebook, Google+, and MeetMe.com. There are also short message networks, such as Twitter and Plurk, which are often used for sharing announcements, events, sales notices, and promotions. Professional networks such as LinkedIn and small profession-specific networks focus on employment, experience, and jobs.
  • Social bookmarking services are like private bookmarks for your favorite sites on your computer. They are publicly viewable lists of sites that others have recommended. Some are recommendation services, such as StumbleUpon and Delicious; others are social shopping services, such as Kaboodle and ThisNext. Some bookmarking services are organized by topic or application, such as sites where readers recommend books to others using bookmarking techniques. And there are social news services, peer-based lists of recommended articles from news sites, blogs, or web pages, where users often vote on the value of the postings. Social news services include Digg and Reddit.
  • Social geolocation and meeting services bring people together in real space rather than in cyberspace. Examples include Foursquare and Meetup.
  • Community-building services such as forums, message boards, and even Yahoo! and Google groups have been around for a long time. Other examples of community-building sites have multiple sharing features, such as Ning; some supply group-sourced content, such as Wikipedia.
  • Review sites such as TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Epinions, solicit consumer views.