Three Social Networks to Explore Beyond Facebook

I was joking about “Pinning like the wind” on Facebook, and a friend and fellow creative professional asked me to do a quick write-up on Pinterest, and how or why someone might want to get started on the social network.

Which brings up the bigger question: Why look beyond Facebook? After all, that’s where pretty much everybody is online. Well, campers, here are a few reasons why you might want to expand the scope of your social media efforts beyond Zuckerland. At least, if you have the time to do so. 

1. The Kids Are Headed Elsewhere. Yeah, sure, Facebook is where everyone hangs out now. And that’s part of the problem. Teens don’t want to be on the same social network as their moms, grandmas and Aunt Mabels. Several recent studies indicate that teens are leaving Facebook in droves in favor of other networks including Twitter, Tumblr, and brand-spanking new things like SnapChat and WhatsApp.

If reaching the next generation is part of your marketing strategy, you should probably at least do some poking around on Tumblr.

Bonus value: Tumblr links are followed, and each reblog or like counts as a separate page with a followed link. If the SEO in you isn’t slobbering over that news, I don’t know what else to tell you.

2. Too much noise, too little signal. Yeah. Everybody is on Facebook. Including everyone you ever knew from high school, every business in your area, and every advertiser desperate to hold on to your attention when you shift your eyes from the TV screen to your laptop or mobile screen. Cluttered much, newsfeed? If you really want to make an impact on an audience, doing so on Facebook means you have to scream louder than the crowd already there. Which probably means paid ads. Which people generally ignore.

If getting your message heard clearly is part of your marketing strategy, or forging strong connections to an audience, you should probably explore Google+. Yes, it’s a little nerdy. No, there aren’t nearly as many people there. And that’s the point. If you use the tools they give you, like communities and circles, to zero in on the right people, G+ is an excellent, non-cluttered environment to speak directly to them.

Bonus: It’s Google. What do you think the odds are that your activity there doesn’t boost your SEO?

3. Your marketing content feels skeevy on Facebook. People get onto Facebook to share photos of their kids, talk about their relationships, and discuss their political and religious views. No matter how pretty the picture of your “cupcake of the day” is, it’s going to feel like you threw a sales pitch in the middle of their cocktail party. People are at best going to gloss over it most of the time, and at worst are going to feel like it’s spammy.

If your content strategy is centered around images, especially pictures of your products or business, you should consider Pinterest. Pinterest is almost nothing but pictures of people’s wish list for stuff they want to own. So if you have beautiful product shots, they’ll fit right in. If you’re a professional photographer, Pinterest makes a perfect social portfolio for your watermarked work. If you’re an author, creating “inspiration boards” of images of settings, characters and other visuals that represent your stories can be a great hook.

Bonus: Like Twitter, Pinterest allows hashtags, which can help your pins get found by keyword or topic. That means people who aren’t connected to you, but are searching for the topic of your pins can find them, increasing their viral potential. (Tumblr does, too, for that matter).

So if you’ve been beating your head against the Facebook marketing wall with little success, or are just looking for some new avenues to explore, I suggest you pick one of the above. Keep your goals in mind, and give it a consistent effort for a few weeks or months. You might be surprised at how much ROI these smaller networks can deliver.


  1. ·

    Bonus to your bonus. On a brand like mine, Google makes a Knowledge Graph thingy on the right hand side. It randomly pulls from recent Google+ posts on said graph, under the Wikipedia content, and before the people also searched for.

    I use them all, but wonder about Tumblr. I’m reminded of what Yahoo did to Flick and Delicious.

    1. Kat

      Hadn’t thought about the Knowledge Graph thing as related to higher ed. That is a big bonus. Pop culture and fandoms around movies and TV series are a big part of our marketing strategy at CP. So Tumblr makes a ton of sense for us. YMMV.

  2. Charles Robinson

    I personally found Google+ useless because no one I know is there. It was like wandering in a desert searching for signs of life. You also can’t keep people from adding you, and hiding what you don’t want specific people to see was a huge pain.

    I really, truly, don’t get the general concept of Tumblr. If you go to Tumblr’s homepage it doesn’t tell you anything at all about what it is, what it does, or why you would want it. It just asks you to log in or create an account. Incidentally, I also never understood Reddit or Slashdot. All three of these confuse me to the point of bewilderment so I just don’t even go there anymore.

    Pinterest also confuses me. It’s kind like delicious and Instagram rolled into one and I just can’t find a use case that makes it worthwhile for me. I tried using it, but it won’t let you just pin a page, it wants to pin graphics or videos. I ended up with delicious tags and Pinterest pins and nothing to bridge the gap. Now I just use bookmarks instead. Those make sense to me.

    1. Kat

      I think Tumblr is like Twitter, in that it’s hard to understand until you just dive in and use it. It’s really a lot about who you follow which creates the experience. Also, it’s a really simplified blogging tool, especially if you like “short, but not Twitter short” content.

      Pinterest is just pretty much image porn. Food porn, yarn porn, fashion porn, decor porn… If you’re not sharing recipes or craft instructions, or pictures of hairstyles, or what have you… It’s basically an envy-engine. Which works really well for sellers of stuff. Maybe not so much for the long term soul health of the members. 😉 As a bookmarking tool, it’s kind of crap.


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