5 New Social Networking Sites Worth Trying

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Aside from a few exceptions, social networking sites tend to come and go. We might have used Xanga, MySpace or LiveJournal back in the day. While many of these older social media sites are still accessible, their popularity has died out over the years.

For many people, it’s difficult to handle more than just a few social networking sites. We tend to forget to log into the smaller communities online. That’s why a lot of people can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. They’re the most popular and they offer more interaction than some of the smaller sites.

Though the top three social networking sites have holding power, it’s occasionally worth trying new apps or sites to connect with others. New social networking sites appear each year.

Here we break down five lesser-known apps that may just become some of your social media mainstays.

1. Cymbal. If we’re the kind of people who always have one song or another stuck in our head, Cymbal may be the app for us. Cymbal allows users to post one song at a time as their status. Once a user posts enough Cymbals, they’ll get recommendations of other similar users to follow. Cymbal brings people together one song at a time. It’s also powered by Spotify and SoundCloud, so there’s a good chance that the songs we want are available to post.

2. Yerdle. Yerdle is a fast-growing app all about a sharing economy. The premise of the app is simple. Give away our unwanted items for credits. Use those credits towards getting other people’s items on the app. Yerdle is a great way to make sure that our old clothes, books, movies, etc go to a loving home. Yerdle also has an excellent pro community, where longtime users can talk about items they found or ideas they have.

3. Influenster. Like getting free things? Influenster might be the next social media site for you. In exchange for product reviews, Influenster gives out boxes of free items. Items can include things like nail polish, sun tan lotion, candy and more. To qualify, sign up and answer a few questionnaires. Influenster will get to know us and our interests. From there, they select certain people to receive their themed boxes. All we have to do is give honest reviews of the products, which in turns help the participating companies better understand their market.

4. Yammer. Intended for the work setting, Yammer helps employees connect online. Employees of a company can post anniversaries, chat online and welcome new members using Yammer. For twenty-something professionals, it helps have a social media site devoted to the office. We can satisfy our urge for connection through Yammer.

5. Letterboxd. Love films and writing reviews? Letterboxd is a social networking community that connects people based on what common films they’ve seen. The site helps users mark off what movies they’ve seen and what they want to see. We can also write reviews of what we enjoyed, pick our favorite films and interact with other users.


What are some less popular social media sites you use? We want to read about your recommendations in the comments!

5 Reasons To Use Digit

Digit

This article originally appeared on GenTwenty as part of the GenSocial column.

On the Internet there’s been a lot of discussion about what twenty-somethings should do with their money. Some argue that it should be spent on travel and leisure for the purpose of enjoying youth. Others say twenty-somethings should begin saving immediately, especially since the retirement benefits are better if we start doing it in our 20s. Hello earlier retirement!

Regardless of where we stand on the retirement issue, many twenty-somethings might find value in a social app called Digit. Their tagline is “Save money, without thinking about it.” But how does that work? And is it really beneficial to sign up? The app is seriously as easy as it sounds.

Here we list the top five benefits of joining Digit and why saving doesn’t have to be so hard, even when it’s done on a micro scale.

  • It links directly to our checking accounts. Digit has a secure system that connects with the provided checking account. It then looks at our spending habits and removes a few dollars here and there. All we have to do is sign up and provide our information.
  • We can withdraw our money at any time. Digit takes away money and essentially puts it into a rainy day account. Whenever we want Digit to stop saving, we can remove the funds and use it for what we’d like.
  • It’s an absolutely free service. Honestly, we lose nothing by signing up for Digit. The automated app does the work for us. It helps if we have trouble saving and want to use the money towards something. There are more reasons to use it than to not use it.
  • It takes into account our incomes and spending habits. Using its specialized technology, Digit conservatively takes our money and saves it for us. That means they won’t take out too much from our checking accounts. Instead, it takes a little bit over time based on our previous decisions. Normally people have savings of $30 or so they find after a short period of time. The number increases depending on our income and spending habits.
  • Digit sends us regular updates about how much we saved. While Digit does its magic, we get regular texts from them about our saving progress. It’s an effortless and smart way to save money, especially if we tend to struggle with that.

What’s best about Digit is that it’s tailored to the individual. Most people want to have some kind of savings. It’s a part of life that we have to plan for the unknown. But sometimes we don’t make enough to save effectively or we can’t stop ourselves from making certain purchases. With Digit, we can have the help of an automated app that does it for us. It takes away money we won’t notice and puts it into an FDIC account. Best of all, we can access if we end up needing it sooner than we thought.

What money-savings app do you use? We want to know in the comments!

Best Times To Post on Social Media

One thing I’ve learned on social media is that what time you post something makes a big difference. While it’s not an exact science, picking when to post on social media is a good strategy. Depending on the time, more people may be at home or the office. Sometimes Monday morning at 9 a.m. is the best time, while no one may see a tweet at 11:30 on a Thursday night.

I’ve curated a few infographics below with social media tips. They are helpful to social media managers, as well as users who want friends and family to see more of their posts. While these are nice tips, the best way to find out ideal posting times is to do research. It really depends on the audience base of the account. Monitor the engagement of your account for a month and you’ll be able to see what posts at what times were most successful.

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How To Use Social Media For Small Businesses

This article originally appeared on Sprout Social’s blog.

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A couple of years ago, small business owners were questioning whether social media was a worthwhile investment. Now, it’s no longer a question of should you be using social media, but rather how you can use it efficiently and effectively to drive your business forward.

Jump to the Social Media for Small Business Infographic.

According to research from LinkedIn, 81% of small businesses use social media. An impressive stat no doubt, but it also means there’s still a significant number of SMBs not taking advantage of social media for their marketing campaigns. That’s mind blowing when you consider the following:

With all of that potential for success, there’s no reason to be watching from the sidelines. Our guide focuses on using social media for small business. We’ll cover everything you need to get up and running, and how to sustain your online presence once it has been established. First, we need to review some marketing basics.

Define Your Goals

Using social media for small business is obviously a great idea, but you may wonder what’s the the real benefits for doing so? You won’t know if your efforts are truly paying off unless you have something to measure against. We’ll take a closer look at measurement a bit later when we talk analytics, so for now, let’s focus on objectives.

Not all social media strategies are created equal. Some are designed to drive awareness while others are built around engagement and specific calls-to-action. There are a lot of elements to social media. For instance, Facebook is a single platform that has many moving parts. You don’t want to approach it haphazardly. It’s inefficient and only creates more work for yourself.

By forming and actually writing down thoughtful and achievable goals, you’ll have a solid understanding of whether or not your social media efforts paid off. A study found 76% of participants achieved their goals through specific goal-setting strategies. There are numerous approaches to goal-setting.

SMART goals are one of the most popular goal-setting frameworks for businesses.

  • Specific. The more specific you can be with your objective, the easier it’ll be to see what it is you need to do.
  • Measurable. Can your goal be measured? How will you track your progress and know if your goal has been achieved?
  • Attainable. Think realistically. Is the goal you’ve set for yourself possible to achieve?
  • Relevant. Does your goal drive your business forward? Is it the right time?
  • Time. Goals are meaningless without deadlines. Give yourself one.

Define Your Audience

When it comes to marketing effectively, you wouldn’t walk into the center of a crowded room and start yelling at people, so why do the same thing online? Social media is one of the best ways to reach your target audience, but first you have to figure out who they are. Those details will help you figure out which social platforms are best for you and the type of content you’ll share.

When identifying your target audience, consider factors such as:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Income
  • Education
  • Career
  • Interests/hobbies

Remember, the more specific you can be, the better. This will enable you to create a strong social media marketing strategy around these individuals and take a more targeted approach to each the right people at the appropriate time.

Research the Platforms

Now that you know who you want to reach, you’ll need to figure out where they are. Social networks have varied user bases—some cater to niche groups while others are digital melting pots. As a small business, your time and energy is very valuable. It doesn’t make sense to invest it on one social network if your primary target audience is more active on another.

B2B & B2C Considerations

In a broad sense, the industry you’re in will help you decide which platform to use. B2B and B2C businesses use social media differently. Consider this when you’re trying to decide which platform to use. In Social Media Examiner’s 2015 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, B2B respondents listed LinkedIn as their number one choice for social networking. while B2C businesses go to Facebook, and in larger numbers.

If you’re B2C, you’ll need to become very familiar with the key social media players and their demographics. It’s a time consuming endeavor, but not to worry because we’ve put together a complete guide to Social Media Demographics for you. Read through it for detailed insights across seven social media platforms.

Platform Strengths & Weaknesses

Going beyond just demographics, you need to know the strengths and weaknesses of each platform. If you specialize in video content, for example, then you’ll want to choose the platform that best supports that type of media.

Specifically on YouTube, 300 hours of video is uploaded every minute, but 67% of Facebook users in the US said they discovered the videos they watch on the social network.
Do you want to work within a six- or 15-second time constraint, or would you like your content to disappear after it’s viewed?

How often do you plan to publish content? Is Facebook or Twitter better for engagement? If you’re going to update multiple times a day, then Twitter’s fast-moving stream might be the right fit. But if you only plan to post a couple of times a week, you don’t want that content to become buried minutes after it’s been published. Facebook has a longer lifespan than Twitter, making it easier to stay relevant without burning out on content.

Customer Service

Using social media for small business isn’t only good for driving awareness and engagement; it’s great for relationship building as well. When customers try to reach you with a question or complaint, many do so on social media. So which platforms are best equipped to help you handle customer service queries?

Consumers complain about brands 879 million times a year on Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites. What’s worse is brands aren’t responding. Seven in eight messages to brands go unanswered within 72 hours.

Being responsive and engaging has never been more critical, especially for a small business where the loss of a customer could be substantial. You have to think about which social media platforms are best equipped to help you handle customer service queries. Although Instagram is great for engagement, it might not be the best place to direct customers with questions about your product or service.

Twitter and Facebook tend to be a customer’s first support resource because of their accessibility and private messaging capabilities. While you should monitor every platform you’re on for mentions of your brand, pay extra attention to Facebook and Twitter.

 

User-Generated Content

Without a dedicated social media team, many small business owners are stuck juggling responsibilities. Creating and distributing content is one of the most important things you can do, but coming up with unique, quality content each week can be time–consuming and expensive.

One way to keep up with the demand for new content is to look to your audience. User-generated content is created by your customers and can be anything from images to videos to blog posts. When you’re looking to be active on new platforms, consider your content strategy and ask yourself what type of UGC you could collect.

For example, if you want customers to submit Vine videos, it’ll help if you’re actively present on the platform to easily gather video submissions. At the very least, you should be active on Twitter because the two services integrate almost seamlessly.

Adopt a Social Media Management Tool

One of the easiest ways for small businesses to fail at social media is by trying to take on too much at a time. In the beginning, it’s tempting to be on every platform, blasting out as much content as you can to anyone who will listen, but that’s not what social media is about. Essentially, social media is creating value and establishing real relationships.

But as we said, small business owners often juggle many different responsibilities and need to optimize their time. Social media management tools like Sprout Social make it easy to share content across multiple networks, track brand mentions and get detailed reports and other crucial tasks every small business needs.

Automate Where Possible

Let’s say you maintain a company blog and you want to share your posts with customers across different social networks. One way Sprout Social can help is with its RSS Scheduler. This feature lets you set up a feed to automatically publish content.

For example, you can connect your Twitter account to your blog so it will auto-Tweet messages when new posts are live. This can be configured in the Publishing tab underPost via RSS.

That said, a human touch is still important. Don’t let automation consume your social media efforts. You have to authentically participate and engage with people in real-time to get the best results.

Know Your Numbers

We touched on this a bit earlier when talking about objectives. Your goals have been established and you’ve defined parameters around what success looks like. Now, it’s time to focus on measuring that success. How close are you to achieving your goal? What tactics bring you closer or further away from reaching your goal? The only way to answer these questions is by tracking social media metrics.

If you have a Facebook Page you’ll probably want to track:

  • Page Likes
  • Post Reach
  • Impressions
  • Engagement
  • Unlikes

On Twitter, you’ll want to keep a close eye on:

  • Retweets
  • Tweet Impressions
  • @ Mentions
  • Followers
  • Tweets Linking to You

Wash, Rinse & Repeat

Social media is constantly evolving and new platforms or features are popping up frequently. Using social media for small business, or any size business for that matter, is a continuous job. You’ll always be re-evaluating your goals and experimenting with new types of content on different platforms.

As your business grows, so will your online presence. You’ll discover new goals and new ways of using existing social media features to your advantage. At this early stage, the key is to pay attention to what works and what doesn’t. But you cannot let a little discouragement stop you from moving forward.

When things start to feel overwhelming, employ a social media management tool or a dedicated social media manager to help take your marketing goals to the next level.

5 Social Media Influencers To Follow

Social-Media-Influencers

This article originally appeared on GenTwenty as part of the GenSocial column.

For the last year, GenSocial has explored a wide ranges of topics pertaining to social media. We’ve looked at how to use the big social networking sites like Pinterest, Snapchat, and Reddit. We’ve offered advice on professional networking on LinkedIn and Twitter.

We’ve also offered suggestions on how to deal with things like threats and security online. But one topic we haven’t covered are examples of twenty-somethings achieving success on social media. We’ve been preaching what smart social media is, but haven’t shown you what it looks like.

That’s why we curated a brief list of some of our favorite twenty-somethings online. These young professionals have strong followings and established brands. Each one of these millennials has a unique voice online. Read more to find out how to connect with these entrepreneurs.

1. Chelsea Krost is known for The Chelsea Krost Show and #MillennialTalk. Chelsea has an undeniably strong social media presence. With almost 100,000 followers on Twitter, she’s clearly doing something right. She currently hosts her own radio show and weekly Twitter chat (called #MillennialTalk) that’s open to any participants. Want to know more? Follow Chelsea on Twitter and join in on her weekly chat. As a bonus, she’s super friendly and open to conversation!

2. Kayla Hollatz is known for #CreateLounge. Kayla’s a jack of all trades. She works in public relations, writes poetry and has her own #CreateLounge Twitter chat on Wednesdays. Kayla is a multitalented creative, open to talking about inspiration and ideas with others. Along with her Twitter chat, Kayla also gives branding suggestions as well as helpful ideas for other creative professionals. Follow Kayla on Twitter  and be inspired!

3. Lindsay Shoemake is known for That Working Girl. A PR powerhouse, Lindsay works in media and digital marketing in Denver. She has ample experience using social media, which makes her website and social accounts fun to follow. One of her biggest projects is That Working Girl, a website dedicated to helping women in the workforce. It has interviews with successful women, as well as general how-to articles. Follow Lindsay on her personal account or That Working Girl to learn more.

4. Aaron Lee of Ask Aaron Lee. Think only women dominate social media? Think again. Aaron runs his own lifestyle blog called Ask Aaron Lee and he’s been named one of Forbes’ Top 50 Influencers. Aaron also offers his social media expertise to businesses and individuals looking to grow their networks. With nearly half a million Twitter follows, he clearly knows his social media. Follow him on Twitter  and see how he’s making a splash online.

5. Maya Elious is known for #MEBrandClass. Maya’s a brand expert and here to help millennials discover their voice online. She also offers a Free 5-Day “Personal Branding Jumpstart” email course to help anyone get started. Along with her course, Maya also has a blog that’s full of useful articles. Maya is a one-woman show, able to help entrepreneurs put their ideas into actions. Follow Maya on Twitter and get to know her work!

This is just a brief list of some of the profiles we love. There are plenty more good examples of twenty-somethings thriving on social media. Share your favorites with us and post them in the comments!

 

Get Certified in Social Media

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(My post originally appeared on gentwenty.com)

Social media is often a hobby for twenty-somethings, but did you know you can get certified in social media? We grew up with it, so it makes sense that most of us continue to use it on a regular basis. For some of us though, social media extends beyond a past time. Some millennials work full time in social media, managing the accounts for businesses or individuals.

Plenty of job opportunities, many of them being in public relations or customer support, exist in social media. Public relations specialists or managers often handle social media as one of their duties. For larger companies, multiple individuals are needed to work primarily on related social media accounts. It depends on the kind of online traffic that organization gets and what budget they’re working with.

While social media might sound like an appealing job, it requires a number of personal and technical skills. Social media managers must be willing to adapt easily to change. Many of our beloved sites (Twitter and Instagram) are less than 10 years old, and more social media sites will emerge in the coming years. Social media managers must stay on tap of trends and determine what sites are best suited for their audiences.

Along with technical skills, professionals must be creative in their social media engagement. Simply advertising a product or deal on Facebook won’t bring fans in. Social media managers must think of ways to draw new fans, as well as retain their current audience base. This can be through the form of contests or highlighting valued customers.

Interested in a job in social media? Sometimes the easiest way in is through experience. Complete an internship or two in social media and that will help future employment opportunities. Another way to show our commitment is through social media certification. There are a number of places that can help us get certified in the industry.

Four places to get certified in social media:

1. Social Media Course from the University of Georgia. The course, called “Using Social Media to Build Business,” consists of four main topic sections and two big assignments. While the certification is pricier than some other options, it’s worth it given that the certificate comes from UGA and that it’s endorsed by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).

2. Certified Social Media Manager from the Management and Strategy Institute. The class, which is a current Groupon deal, costs about $99 for certification. There are no prerequisites to take the course. Participants go through seven modules to eventually take a manager-level exam through the institute.

3. Certification exam from the National Institute for Social Media. The institute has a number of options for people who want to get certified. They can self study and then pay the fee for the exam. They can also take a sponsored course to prepare for the class. If a professional feels they’re prepared regardless of self study or the class, they can go ahead and take it for the cheapest option (around $295).

4. Social Media Certificate Program from Media Bistro. A well known source, Media Bistro prepares professionals with hands-on assignments. Participants learn the ins and outs of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube. Unlike the other options, applicants must apply to the program. Media Bistro’s is the most expensive, but comprehensive, program that prepares professionals for social media marketing.

This list covers just a few of the options available for professionals working in social media. What certification we pick ultimately has to do with where we are in the industry, what our budget is and what we want to learn. Have any recommendations for social media certifications? Post them in the comments!

9 Must-Have Apps for Young Professionals

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(My post originally appeared on gentwenty.com)

Social media can be an invaluable tool for young twenty-somethings in the working world.

Users have the opportunity to network and collaborate in ways they could never before. Many of us are already on some of the bigger social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. However, there are other social media sites we can use to help us. In this case, they are ideal for getting a start in the professional world.

9 Apps for Young Professionals:

1. A free mobile app, Mint allows users to manage their finance and bank accounts. Users can set spending limits on different items, like food or clothes, per month. Mint allows young professionals to use money wisely, especially around the time we often seriously start our savings.

2. Evernote serves as a quick and fast storage space for ideas. It’s a all-in-one virtual workspace where users can make sketches, come up with business places, write articles or schedule events. Evernote can be accessed at any time and is a great place to store working projects.

3. Boomerang helps schedule when emails will be sent and received. Often times we’ll find ourselves sending emails outside of traditional work hours. Boomerang helps schedule those emails for early in the morning. They can also help queue important emails that must go out on specific dates, a tool that’s perfect for most fields.

4. RescueTime shows professionals how much time they spend on certain websites. Available for desktops and Androids, RescueTime breaks down how many hours are spent on things like email or Twitter. The app can help identify which sites are time wasters and help increase productivity.

5. Jobr helps new professionals seek out jobs and career opportunities. It connects to our LinkedIn profiles to help find the right job boards. Users can swipe left or right on jobs they’re interested in. If we select right, our profiles will be sent to a job recruiter. Jobr is one of the easiest ways to look for open positions.

6. Google Docs work well as both a desktop and mobile feature. Available on Google Drive, Google Docs serve as handy, online worksheets. They’re perfect for sharing information almost anywhere, so long as there’s an Internet connection.

7. Wondering where to get lunch near the office? Use Yelp! to track down nearby businesses. Users post personal reviews of products and services. Yelp! can help determine where to bring our business next.

8. Spotify shows that in an office environment, there should be room for fun. Spotify offers make-our-own music playlists for free. Users can also listen to what others have created. It’s an entertaining, collaborative service that is perfect to listen to while typing emails or finishing up reports.

9. My Fitness Pal lets users count calories and manage their health through an electronic device. Before dining out, users can see how many calories are in certain items. My Fitness Pal helps those who work in a sedentary office environment boost their health.