What are Social Media sites FOR?

Chances are, if you are an avid enough internet user, you have seen this photo of a speaker’s explanation of social media:

As silly as this picture is, it is a really concise explanation of what each social network is used for.  And as much as we all hate to admit it, most people do not know what to do with social media beyond personal use.  I realized this in a couple recent interviews talking about why social media strategy differs for different platforms.

It takes a lot of research, skill, and most of all trial and error to learn what works for brands, companies, and bloggers to market their content and products on social media sites.  And the reason is, each of them is unique in how users use the site.  Sure, we all know what YouTube or Facebook is for but have you stopped and really thought about how you use it?  Now, I am still learning, but luckily so is everyone else in the field of technology and online content . What most people have realized is that users want different kinds of content based on the social media site they are using. Here’s my brief breakdown:

  • Facebook users want to interact or connect with their friends as well as the companies, causes, and interests they  follow. But with Facebook constantly changing so the challenge lies in how to stay ahead of the game, and use new tools like the timeline.
  • Twitter users on the other hand, are more keen to find out what’s going on.  Like this Huffington Post article explains, they want information about news, gossip, the latest memes and coolest articles from their friends as well as the businesses and personalities they follow.
  • Other sites such as Pinterest or even Digg and Reddit have found niche communities that want to control the content that appears on a website either through their own posting (Pinterest) or some kind of voting system (Digg/Reddit).
  • Youtube, Vimeo, Flikr, and Instagram are all examples of media-specific sites that specialize in sharing either video or photo content.  Here, like the example above, content rules the day and people interact in discussion about the content itself.

There are so many resources on the web to learn more about social media and creating a strategy for any business or organization.  Here are a few I follow regularly:

  • Likeable– Likeable is actually a strategy firm but has one of the best social media blogs around and has weekly web chats about social media.  Definitely the thought leader.
  • Mashable– One-stop look for all things social media and tech news. Mashable has it all and does it all well.
  • Social Media Today– I really like how this site categorizes all their articles so you can find exactly what you’re looking for.
  • Social Media Examiner– this is a blog-style site with lots of helpful articles
  • SocialMedia.biz– The analysts on this site are much more business focused and have in-depth reports for the professional view on social media.
  • Most news outlets on Twitter have handles specifically dedicated to tech and social media news, like @HuffPostTech.

This by no means is an exhaustive guide.  I think of it as an intro to things to think about when starting social media for a brand or organization.  What are some other useful resources for social media strategy?  What about workflow and analytics, any great tools out there we should all be using?