Not another social media network…

While practically everyone knows about Facebook, YouTube and Twitter at this stage, there’s a whole host of other social media networks that are vying for people’s attention. Some of the lesser known networks include Orkut, Tagged, Café Mom, Meetup, Ning, and even Google +.

Another lesser known network until recently was Pinterest. Pinterest is a pinboard-style photo sharing website where users can collect, group and share photos of their favourite events, interests or hobbies. Users can browse other pinboards for inspiration, ‘re-pin’ images to their own pinboards, and ‘like’ photos.

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Pinterest is one of the fastest growing social media networks and according to comScore, a leading internet technology company that provides digital data analytics, it now has over 30 million users worldwide, placing it only behind Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Despite the increasing popularity of Pinterest, many companies have yet to create their own specialised page on the network. Indeed, one could probably argue that many companies don’t even know that the network exists, or at best have only a vague idea as to what it’s for.

So…do companies need to get in on the act and set up their own Pinterest page, or do we really need another social media site for engaging with customers? After Facebook, Twitter and perhaps YouTube, what other types of social media sites does a company really need to have?

A recent report from Forrester Research suggests that social media does almost nothing to drive sales. And Primark has succeed in becoming one of Europe’s most successful clothing brands without any real social media engagement or digital marketing strategy whatsoever. As a result, it’s not hard to see why certain companies may be slow to embrace social media, in particular the lesser known sites.

So should companies just stick with the main social media platforms or should they try to be on as many social media networks as possible?

The question probably depends on what area the company is involved in. Advertising agencies and people involved in the creative arts may have a greater need for a Pinterest page (to help showcase their work) as opposed to a Twitter account, for example. However, it’s difficult to see what companies in areas such as banking, insurance, finance or healthcare might need with a Pinterest account. And while most companies should be on Facebook, the case for all companies having a dedicated YouTube page is less convincing.

The key point is that companies should only engage with social media if they are prepared to do so properly. Being on all the social media networks just for the sake of it may actually hurt a company in the longer term if it’s not prepared to engage with the sites, monitor them properly and update them regularly.

As a result, it’s better in general that companies only use social media sites which they feel are a good strategic fit for their business and then leverage those sites to their maximum potential.

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