AKRON (April 15, 2013) — Are you trying to enter the world of social media?
Admit it: You've heard a slew of words and have no idea what they mean, right? I'd like to offer you a solution. Although this is not a "complete" list of social media sites — because new ones pop up practically everyday — it is a huge chunk of them. Listed below are the top sites, some up-and-coming sites and some others that might help you build your business' online presence. I included some information on how a particular site could be useful for your tire business or automotive service shop.
Let me know if there are any other sites you want more information on and I will gladly send it over to you. Email me at email@example.com or call me at 330-865-6143.
Blogger — a Web service used for publishing blogs. This could be used in the tire industry if a company wants to create a company blog to supplement its website. Blogger is currently owned by Google.
CafeMom — an online meeting place for mothers. Is your shop mom-friendly? Maybe there's a marketing opportunity here to let local moms know that you have a play area or that you have a dedicated TV for children's shows.
Chirp — a social media site that allows you to share links through using sound. This is different than using Bluetooth, email, etc., because it does not require pairing of devices or typing in an email address or phone number; rather, it allows anyone on the site to hear your "chirp." This is an up-and-coming site using sound as its major source of technology. Items in this site can be shared via other sites, like Facebook and Twitter. This may be interesting to use while doing seminars or tradeshows to see how many people attending are on the site.
Delicious and Diigo — both "social bookmarking" sites that are used to store any type of information you find interesting around the Web. These sites could be helpful if you start to feel overwhelmed and need somewhere to store all your information. Both sites are free.
Digg—a social news website. If you "digg" an article on Digg, it is similar to a "Like" on Facebook. If you are a person who likes to know what the most popular stories are on the Web but don't have time to look around yourself, this might be something you'd want to look into. This site may help you find different sorts of topics to share with your customers on your Facebook and/or Twitter accounts.
Facebook — Currently, the most popular social media site with more than 1 billion active users. It became a publicly traded company in 2012. Facebook bought Instagram in 2012, which increases photo sharing on the site, especially with mobile users. Facebook allows users to connect to both businesses and people by creating a page. If a business cannot afford to build a website, this is one alternative so people can still reach out to your company. For more information, check out Tire Business' Facebook-centric blog post.
Flayvr — an up-and-coming mobile app that automatically organizes photos and videos from your phone, turning them into interactive collections that are easily shared with others as an HTML5 experience. Do you take a lot of photos at seminars and tradeshows—or perhaps of a customer's hot car? This might be a neat feature to check out.
Foursquare — a free app that lets you share and save the places you visit. It will give you personal recommendations and deals based on where you, your friends and other people who have similar interests. This can be used for business because it gives people the option to check into places—meaning they could check into your business. Through networking, people can see that a friend bought tires or had a service completed by your shop and thus may be interested in checking the business out. Also, do you do a lot of traveling for work? This might be something that could be helpful when you're looking for somewhere to eat.
Google+ — Google's response to social media. This social media site is helpful in increasing your search engine optimization (SEO) ranking since it's linked in with Google, the largest search engine. Because of its attachment to Google, you can incorporate it with other Google applications. Users can link up to friends in "circles" and can post status updates or follow businesses to gain more information about a company or what is new in the business.
HootSuite—Social media is ever-growing, so social media management has also started to emerge and grow. One such site is HootSuite, which allows members to organize all their social media sites in one place. There are free and premium options. One of the greatest features of HootSuite is it gives you the ability to schedule posts in advance. This is great for a business that does not want to post five pieces of information all first thing in the morning, but just does not have the time to keep coming back. This gives you more time management options.
Instagram — a photo-sharing site owned by Facebook. It has more than 100 million active users. There was some controversy surrounding Instagram in late 2012 when service terms were going to be changed to make users' photos applicable for public use. Backlash from users caused Instagram to keep current policies intact. This photo-sharing site can be utilized with a variety of other social media sites. If you are constantly posting photos or coupons, etc. to your social media sites, this might be something you'd want to look into.
LiveJournal — a social site where users can create blogs or journal posts. It can be linked to other social media sites and does have various syndicated feeds that people can search through. It has the social aspect of having friends. This may be a site to place your company's blog, but is used a lot for written stories or entertainment pieces.
LinkedIn—the professional's social media site. LinkedIn was created in 2002. It differs from other social media sites because it puts its emphasis on the business world. Your contacts on the site are based on professional contacts and sharing skills or articles that may be useful in the business. People use LinkedIn specifically for business purposes and not for personal use. For more information, check out our LinkedIn-centric blog post.
MailChimp—an email marketing service. MailChimp allows you to send newsletters, post to social media sites, etc., and track your results. You can sign up for free to determine if this is something you would want to proceed with. You can pay as you go, or pay monthly, depending on if this will be used regularly or if you are just doing one or two campaigns.
Meetup — a large network of local groups. Basically, it allows you to find people with similar interests in your local area. This could be helpful for a business if you are looking to increase your Web presence or social media. You might just find a group that can help you out in a really laid back format. It could be a good way to meet your local community members, too—especially if you have opened a new location.
MySpace — a social media site that used to be popular before the boom of Facebook. It has recently made a bit of a comeback, with a focus in music and the entertainment industry, rather than a social networking site.
Ning—online platform that can be used to create a personalized social website, allowing you to create an online community the way you want to. It offers total control, and you own your member data and content. Ning is not a free service, but there is a free 30-day trial.
Pheed — an up-and-coming social media site only launched in October 2012. This is a platform for sharing different types of media, such as text, video, photos. The difference between Pheed and some other sites is that although it's free to join, members have the option to charge for their content on the site, and get to choose what they want to sell for themselves. Users have the option to copyright their material. This site might be interesting to use if you take photos at tradeshows or produce any kind of information that you think members of the business world might want to pay for. As far as reaching your customers, you can always choose to post information for free on the site as well, so if you are already doing a monthly blog on your website, this could be another outlet to post it.
PhotoBucket — a site that can host your photos and allows you to create slideshows and has photo sharing capabilities.
Picasa — a photo organizer that is owned and operated by Google. You can link Picasa with your other Google accounts, such as Google+.
Pinterest—a pinboard-style photo-sharing website where people sign on, look through the photos, click on what they like, request more information if desired, and can be taken to the original post of information. There are specific pages for businesses to create a photo book of your products. This site does lean toward female interests, but that just means you might be able to catch their eye. Why not create a product page or relatable interests, such as recycled tire art, to gain interest in your business.
Reddit — a social news and entertainment site where content is submitted from users. What is seen on the front page are the most popular posts.
SlideShare—Do you give a lot of presentations at your job? Whether it's for marketing campaigns or for investor meetings, this is something you might want to check out. Users can upload their files, including PowerPoint and PDF files, and share with others. This can be helpful if you have to send the files to many people in your shop, but the files are too big to email. Just upload here and anyone you want to take a look can do that.
Storify—a site that allows its users to create stories from updates and timeline information from other social media sites. You can link up other relatable items, such as if you attended a tire product launch, you can link any media articles or company product information that is available online with your account to present your "story" to your audience.
Thumb — a mobile app where users can give and get advice on different products and places. This might be someplace where you can check out what people are saying about your business.
Tumblr — a short-form blog social media site. It lets users post short text, photos, videos, etc.
Twitter—currently the second most popular social media site. It is a fast-paced site where people and businesses post multiple times a day with "tweets" of 140 characters or less. For more information, check out our Twitter-centric blog post.
Veetle—a live video-streaming site. This could be used for teleconferencing and/or if you have special events at your dealership that you want to film live.
Vimeo—a video-sharing site. This could be used in your business plan to post commercials or informational videos. There are both free and premium options.
YouTube — a video-sharing site. This could be used in your business plan to post commercials or informational videos. After doing research, we discovered a lot of you are linked up to YouTube for your video needs.
So what have we learned? There are tons of social media sites out there, but it all depends on what will work best for your business and your brand. Many of the up-and-coming sites have the option to link them with the big sites—Facebook and Twitter—so that they can be seen by more people. Some of these sites might be a good starting point to play around with because you're just adding onto the sites you are already using.
Still have questions? Any subjects you'd like to see covered on this blog? Let me know at 330-865-6143, firstname.lastname@example.org or send a message to Tire Business at Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or at email@example.com.