Small businesses are seizing online social media as part of their efforts to establish a niche and engage a wider prospective customer base.
Social media is not a fad – it is here to stay.
The issue is how to gatecrash someone else’s party with a commercial message that doesn’t get you thrown out of the door as soon as you walk in!
This is the conundrum which established, mainstream social media sites such as Facebook and MySpace are trying to address as they seek to monetize all those surfer eyeballs spending minutes, hours and days on the internet. While this may seem like someone else’s problem, it is in fact every business’ problem – how to engage potential customers as part of their recreational time online.
It is important for businesses to understand that while Facebook, Digg, Reddit, LinkedIn and the rest of the big players in social media, may be grabbing the headlines with multi-million dollar valuations and financing, they are not the only party on the block.
So let’s take a look at three sites you may not have heard of, but they are bubbling under the top division in the social media league.
Kirtsy (kirtsy.com) caters primarily to women and it’s a good social media site for businesses looking to attract women as their prospective customers.
The site is primarily user-content driven with a substantial amount of third party content added by the users themselves for comment, education and simple fun. Kirtsy focuses on female friendly topics and issues, but they do include forums and self-help groups for dealing with more than just relationships and the site lends itself to infiltration by businesses with something positive and constructive to say on issues such as technology, especially if it addresses a female experience with the issue.
Kirtsy is well laid out, simple to use and makes it easy to register – it stands out because of its focus on women.
Small Business Brief
Small Business Brief (smallbusinessbrief.com) is a good example of how to develop a blog into a social media site – Small Business Brief is primarily a blog, with content centering upon small business issues, however, it has developed beyond a blogger writing posts.
The site/blog stands out because of the quality of the posts and information which is included – it is obviously written well and by people who really do know what they are talking about based upon experience. What makes SBB stand out though is the opportunity for users, eg. your business, to interact with solution provision. If you do have a genuine B2B solution, then SBB has a platform for you to hold forth. If you are a B2C company, you have a community of tens of thousands of small and medium sized business owners for you to tap into, to bolster your own knowledge and experience base.
SBB has some way to go in getting its format better developed, but it certainly shows how powerful even a simple platform can become in the social media niche.
NowPublic (nowpublic.com) is a social media platform powered by citizen journalists who either write, or more usually, share existing content with the rest of the site community. News items are voted up or down, depending on popularity pretty much the same way as we see on Digg or Reddit.
NowPublic stands out because of the diversity of issues which are covered – there is a well organized format which effectively replicates the content of a serious newspaper, and there is a very active community of users and a vocal commentary on stories of consequence.
Consider NowPublic to be an evolution of Digg and Reddit, with a greater degree of organization, much more user-friendly and a very lively community which is not primarily made up of internet nerds, but Joe Public with a passion for issues.
Of course there are dozens of other great niche social sites that can help your business, but the key is finding one that you enjoy and are passionate about. Better to be heavily involved in one social media site than a lurker in many. Who knows, one day you may find you are using social media for more than just promoting your business, you’ll also use it to promote yourself.