3 Other Types of Social Media Platforms

Picture of Aliza ShermanAliza Sherman is a web pioneer, author, and international speaker. Sherman is the author of 8 books about the Internet including The Everything Blogging Book, Streetwise Ecommerce, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Crowdsourcing and Social Media Engagement for Dummies.

3 Other Types of Social Media Platforms

Social media is made up of different types of websites that perform specific functions and provide ways to communicate and connect with others. Social media sites are different from other types of sites - like search engines, for example - because they give users the ability to create a profile, connect with "friends" or "contacts," post their own content, and share other people’s content. The way each social media site or app does this can differ, and their overall purpose can also differ, but the core to social media is the social aspect.

Traditional social networks possess all the main features of social media: profiles, "friends," posting, and sharing content. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and LinkedIn are all, at their core, built on the premise that people can join, connect with others, and post and share content and commentary. They all have "reactions" or ways to react to a post such as a like, a clap, or a hug, depending on the network.

A downside to the bigger social networks is that they control the visibility of your posts to get you to pay to advertise with them. The benefit of advertising on a social network is that you can home in on the exact audience you’re seeking to attract, down to the age, location, personal interests, and online activity.

Here are three other types of social media sites and apps and how you can use them for your business. While there is some crossover, looking at the main uses of each one can help you determine which ones would be helpful for promoting your business.

1. Discussion Forums

Sites like Reddit and Quora offer you the chance to showcase your expertise. Reddit is a place where people discuss news and issues. The Reddit AMA, which stands for Ask Me Anything, is a popular format to do a live Q&A with Reddit users.

The Reddit community is very particular, so familiarizing yourself with the way people communicate and what is allowed within different topic-specific subreddits is key to avoiding any missteps. You can also promote posts for greater visibility, just make sure they are on-topic.

Quora is specifically a Q&A site where you can create a profile and start answering people’s questions. Focus on topic areas that are relevant to your company. If you’re a dentist, respond authoritatively to general questions people are asking about dental health. If you’re a landscaper, search for related topics and provide useful answers.

You can build a community around specific topics with Quora Spaces, sharing content and gaining followers. You can also start your own subreddit for topic-specific discussions but make sure you’re well-versed in Reddit communications before attempting this. Both are similar to starting a Facebook or LinkedIn Group but with their own spin.

2. Bookmarking & Content CurationNetworks

If you’re looking to curate content from other sources, organize it into boards or categories, and allow others to follow you or your content boards and reshare your content, then you’re looking for sites like Pinterest, Flipboard, and Pocket.

Pinterest is most like traditional social networks where you can create a profile, follow and be followed by others, post content, and share content, as well as comment and like other people’s pins. You can organize the content you upload or "repin" onto boards that others can follow as well.

On Pocket you can save content to your list and create collections out of related content. Other people can save your any content you’ve saved to their lists or collections, and you can save their content to yours. If you’ve published articles or are featured in articles, you can save them to Pocket, making them available to be discovered by Pocket users.

Flipboard lets you create "Magazines" where you can add or "flip" content you find on the web or within Flipboard from other users and you can invite contributors, similar to how you can invite others to add to your Pinterest boards for collaboration. People can follow you or add your Magazines to follow what you post there.

If you’re looking for fresh and timely content to share on your other social networks, Flipboard and Pocket are great for this. If the work you do is content-oriented - or if you have a particular expertise or interest you want to show case - bookmarking and content curation sites can be useful.

3. Review Sites

Review sites are popular ways of finding the best local businesses in any area. They are also good places for businesses to get candid feedback from customers, both positive and negative. Facebook and Google Rating and Reviews are two of the most used review features online, but there are also more business-specific review sites that could be useful to you.

Yelp is ideal for any business with a physical location, from restaurants to doctors’ offices. If you have a hospitality or travel or tourism-related business, TripAdvisor is a widely used review site for travelers. If you have a services company, particularly for homeowners, such as interior decorator, landscaper or gardener, electrician, or pest control company, Angi (formerly Angie’s List) is a relevant site for you.

Review sites typically let you list your business or "claim" your business, then offer you features to respond to reviewers, provide special offers, or advertise. Think of review sites as the modern-day, turbo-powered Yellow Pages, and you’ll get a sense of how valuable they can be for your business.

Understanding how other social media-powered sites work can help you enhance your social media marketing. Keep in mind that the more places you list and post, the more time it will take to monitor and manage these additional accounts.