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Do ‘Unorthodox’ Social Networks Have Marketing Value?

Moosa Hemani is an SEO consultatnt at SEtalks.com. You can follow him on Twitter @mmhemani.

Facebook and Twitter come to mind when someone mentions social media marketing. The fact is, both of these networks can prove to be worthless from a marketing point of view, particularly if you are a small business and your service or product isn’t too exciting.

For instance, Facebook shows the best of your updates to no more than 20 percent of your fans or followers (in fact, 6 percent sounds like a more accurate figure), unless you “boost” your posts through paid advertising.

There are other ways of increasing the organic reach of your posts but sometimes there are better options.

Twitter is no different when it comes to reach and impact. You never know who reads your tweets and how they react to them.

I’m not saying that Facebook, Twitter and other conventional social platforms are lousy places to market your business. Most of us view our Facebook newsfeed or scan our Twitter feed on a daily basis, so presence on these pilgrimage social networks has become almost obligatory for all kinds of businesses, big and small.

But, you will need to make break-neck efforts (and break the bank) to build up a sizable following and make some impact.

What if your time and money can be spent better on a not-so-popular social media platform?

What are the unorthodox social networks?


Statista recently released the list of top social networks ranked by the number of users. Facebook occupies the top spot, as expected. But it’s surprising to see Twitter ranked seventh, Google+ ranked ninth, Instagram ranked 10th and LinkedIn at the bottom of the list (18th).

The list includes Chinese networks and Skype, while missing some popular platforms such as Pinterest and YouTube. It also includes WhatsApp and Snapchat with their 800 million and 200 million users respectively, underlining the fact that social mobile apps may be the next big thing in social marketing.

There’s another list published by eMarketer that ranks social networks based on their popularity with U.S. marketers. Seventy-two percent of them are interested in Instagram for marketing their business in the coming year, followed by 41 percent who consider Pinterest the right channel to spend ad dollars.

And then, there are the top fringe social media networks in the UK, which include Vine, Tumblr, Vimeo and Quora.

There are many unorthodox fringe social apps and networks that are gaining popularity, but let’s not get confused further. We’ll take a closer look at some of the top unorthodox social networks and mobile apps. But first, let’s see how you can select the best fringe social network for your business.

Which fringe social network is best for your business?

The best social network should send you more traffic and business leads with less work. This can happen only if the users of that network are the same people who would be interested in using your product.

Ask the following questions to find out which particular unconventional social media platform will be most fruitful for your business.

What are your goals?

A particular social network may be the mainstay of your content marketing strategy, or it may be a complementary network to promote some other medium.

For example, you can use WhatsApp to promote your website or to sell individual products directly. Or, you may just be looking to create brand awareness.

How much time can you allocate?


You need to make sure you have enough time to consistently create updates and interact with your audience.

Do you have the resources to create content?

You need talent and equipment to create great content, without which none of your social media networks can perform as you desire.

If you’re going to use Tumblr, for example, make sure you have the people and skills to create the kind of top-notch visual or text content that trends there.

Do you have the time for the learning curve?

Every social network takes time to learn and achieve proficiency. Some media are simpler to learn than others.

You should keep in mind that it will take you some time, probably a few weeks or months, before you can fully understand the mood of a social network and start driving results.

Are your customers using that network?

Want to learn how listening to customers on social can benefit your brand? Read the free “LiSTEN” e-book!

This is the most important question. All of your customers may be using Facebook, but what are the other networks most of them use? There are ways to find out.

How to tell where your customers are @?

Thanks to technology, it’s not mission impossible to find out which particular social networks your customers frequent. Here are a few ways:

  • Google Analytics: Select Acquisition > Social > Network Referrals to see which particular social networks are sending people your way.
  • Email Program: You can also use certain email management software to find out what social networks your subscribers use (depending upon their privacy settings).
  • Network Demographics: Finally, you can research the demographics of the network you are considering, and match it with your target market’s profile. The demographic data for different networks may not be available at a single place, so you need to look it up on high authority websites such as Social Media Examiner, Tech Crunch, Statista, Emarketer, etc.

7 Unorthodox Social Media Networks for Businesses

The social networks that I’ll discuss don’t include the big six—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and Pinterest—simply because they are too well known to be called unorthodox. Here are the next seven most important networks that are not as widely used for marketing.

1. Snapchat for Marketing



The video and photo sharing app boasts 200 million active mobile users and a whopping 6 billion video views per day (compared to 8 billion for Facebook). The messages self-destruct after you’ve viewed them, and that’s what makes Snapchat so addictive for users.

Should I Use Snapchat for Business and How?

  • Snapchat is perfect for micro-marketing if many of your customers use Snapchat and/or you have an “intimate” product to sell.
  • You can build an organic following and trigger interaction, thanks to the latest direct chat feature.
  • Suitable for businesses that can benefit from the geo-tagging feature, such as hotels or resorts.
  • Be prepared for manual work—shooting and posting snaps, replying to messages and keeping track—because no automation or analytics will be available.

2. WhatsApp for Marketing

The mobile social media giant WhatsApp has grown to more than 800 million users, up from about 500 million since Facebook acquired it last year.

Although not very popular in the U.S., WhatsApp is being used by thousands of local small businesses in other parts of the world. The group-messaging feature allows you to send messages to your entire contact list at once, without disclosing the recipients to one another.

This, unlike most other social networks, gives you an organic reach of 100 percent!

Should I Use WhatsApp for Business and How?

  • Best suited for small entrepreneurs to stay accessible and provide better services to their customers.
  • WhatsApp is an ad-free platform predominantly used for personal purposes, so you must be careful to only send messages that your recipients find helpful and interesting.
  • Use the broadcast list feature to make groups and stream video or send picture messages.
  • Ask your customers to add you to WhatsApp in your social media updates, website and physical store.

3. Vine for Marketing



Vine videos play more than half a trillion loops each year. Your choice of this six-second video-making app will depend upon whether you have customers using Twitter and Tumblr, and whether you can sell yourself in six seconds.

Should I Use Vine for Business and How?

  • Excellent for showing your product in action covering the important steps in six seconds.
  • Perfect for your business if you’re already marketing on Twitter or Tumblr, because these are the two channels that deliver the majority of Vine views.
  • Instagram’s 15-second format with time-lapse feature may be a better medium for businesses that are not particularly into Twitter and Tumblr marketing.

4. Tumblr for Marketing

The micro-blogging platform is great for your business if you have (or are looking to build) a sleek, modern brand with some stunning visual appeal. Tumblr is ranked no. 1 in social sentiment towards brands, which means that the users will welcome your brand as long as you give them quality content that they want to see. People can follow your Tumblr blog and re-share your content to their networks, a feature that gives Tumblr unparalleled social reach.

Should I Use Tumblr for Business and How?

  • Tumblr is a great channel for you if your audience is there and if you can create compelling visual content quite regularly.
  • Perfect for B2C products with high visual appeal, such as fashion, food, tourism, photographers, etc.
  • Many B2B companies use Tumblr successfully to inform and engage their audience.

Tumblr is a feature-rich platform supporting text, photos, video, GIFs, polls and surveys, etc. Use it if you’re tired of using WordPress or think it’s too old-fashioned.

5. Yelp for Marketing

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Yelp boasts 100 million unique monthly users, and is the fastest growing online and mobile review platform. It may not be social media in the strictest terms, but with more than 26,000 reviews being posted every minute Yelp marketing is indispensable for your brick-and-mortar business if the international review behemoth is present in your country.

Should I Use Yelp for Business and How?

  • Your business should be on Yelp if you have a physical store and/or are a local business.
  • If you haven’t already, claim your Yelp business page today.
  • Respond to people’s comments and view the stats about the visitor activity on your page.
  • Request your customers to review your business on Yelp.
  • Never fall for fake reviews— posting a fake review is a crime in many countries.

6. Quora for Marketing

With just 2.9 million monthly active users, Quora may be much smaller than the other social networks that I’ve mentioned. But, it is unique because it is dedicated to questions that people have and their answers. Quora results pop up all too often when you’re searching for the answer to a question on Google. People use Quora to research questions and to read answers by industry experts.

Should I Use Quora for Business and How?

  • Quora is a great platform to establish your reputation as an expert in your niche.
  • You can use it to post and answer questions pertaining to your product or service and drive traffic to your website. For instance, healthcare providers can ask and answer specific questions about their specialty.
  • It is particularly suitable for services and B2B businesses dealing with technical subjects.

7. SlideShare for Marketing

SlideShare has just 70 million users, but has a targeted audience of serious-minded professionals. Just like LinkedIn, which acquired SlideShare in 2012, it is the ideal platform for B2B marketers, some 17 percent of whom use SlideShare to launch their new products.

SlideShare has great SEO performance and your presentation has better search visibility than if you hosted it on your own site.

Should I Use SlideShare for Business and How?

  • SlideShare is definitely for you if you’re targeting LinkedIn as one of your marketing channels.
  • A great platform for in-depth presentations and documents of technical and educational nature.
  • You can use it for lead generation and for driving traffic to your website.

Final Thoughts!

Unorthodox social networks are usually more discreet and targeted, so your efforts and brand don’t drown in the sea of mega-brands with big budgets and followings. These networks also offer a wider reach and more engagement for each minute of your time that you spend marketing on social media.

While you cannot ignore your presence on a few of the big six social networks, you may find much better results from one or two fringe social networks.

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Images via Pixabay: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Tags : social media

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Cision invites PR and marketing professionals to share their best practices and advice with the Cision Blog audience. To share your story, contact blog.us@cision.com

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