Social networks are websites or platforms which bring together users in various online communities. They mostly enable communication between individuals who share the same interests, activities and hobbies. Also, social network websites give users the possibility to interact easily through online bulletin boards, sharing tools, e-mails and instant messaging. Social networks are therefore accustomed to enable communication between people who share common interests while also allowing users to establish a direct contact with a company or a brand.
Social network websites now play an integral part in the way consumers use and browse the Internet. Millions of people worldwide devote a significant amount of time in them, through computers and mobile devices. More than others, some social networks have grown in popularity in a notable way, which drives businesses and individuals to take them into account in their web strategies.
Here is a brief overview of the most popular social networks for which we provide a turnkey service (platform creation and customization, community management, training, interactivity analysis and reports).
Facebook is the most popular web platform among web users for social exchanges. Its goal is to bring together individuals who share common bonds and interests, and it also allows for content sharing (text, links, pictures, videos). Facebook offers many services for businesses who wish to interact with their audience, thus increasing the level and frequency of exchanges between individuals and brand names. As of today, the platform has over 500 million users to its name (September 2010 statistics) of which 50% connect several times a day. Its possibility of use, its efficient outreach and its strong pool of interests makes Facebook a prime social network platform that allows you to reach out to an existing and active audience.
Twitter is a microblogging platform that allows users to blog short messages of 140 characters. It's a social network accessible to all users that gives you the possibility to quickly reach your audience through news feeds and links. Twitter users can follow what companies, brands and/or users do depending on what they're interested in thanks to a user-friendly and simple interface. Twitter estimated close to 190 million users in August 2010.
YouTube is one of the most influential sharing-based web platforms. In fact, it's the number 1 entertainment-related search engine. Also, YouTube ranks second, after Google, as most favorite search engine by web users worldwide. YouTube is seen as a social network because users can interact with one another by suggesting videos, commenting on various posts, etc. YouTube offers different interesting features such as creating a custom channel that can represent a company, a brand or a public figure. The platform provides many benefits and allows a visual interaction with the audience that's displayed in an updated and monitored setting (visuals and information).
Another social network is LinkedIn which is recommended for business purposes. Users profile pages show their professional career and allows them to specify their interests in terms of business opportunities, employment, etc. Also, you can search for former work colleagues and get in touch with them. The network also lets users recommend people with whom they've had the pleasure to work with. In a web strategy context which consists of increasing awareness and ensuring the company's global image, LinkedIn will help to strengthen a company's credentials within the community related to a business' professional field of expertise.
Foursquare is the latest free and trendy social network whose main purpose revolves around a location-based software which helps to promote locations on social networks. By means of applications on every Smartphone models, the platform is used as much by individuals than by companies, and for different reasons. Individuals use it to display their lifestyle agenda, develop a close link with their favorite places, promote their favorite places to their friends on social networks, and get rewarded by participating businesses. Featured businesses want to make sure their brand image and official contact information are respected, reach out to their mobile clients, follow their clients' evolution on the web, and announce their promotional and special offers to mobile users.
Flickr mainly acts as an online photo-sharing website, but it also offers video-sharing features. Although free, this platform provides some paid-for features, especially those related to storage limits, album creation and statistics. Flickr is very popular towards all types of users who want to publish their personal photography work, but also to a community of professional photographers who consider Flickr an interesting means of distribution. Flickr announced that the 5 millionth picture was added in September 2010!
Instagram is an application with which users can create photographs and videos to be shared with their network of subscribers. Users can also like and comment images that appear in their news feed. Available on iOs, Android and Windows Phone mobile platforms, this application is characterized by its snapshot system creating digital images that are quick to share and that can be customized using embedded visual filters. Instagram is a popular social media tool among businesses who want to boost their subscriptions, foster customer loyalty and generate more sales (SumAll, 2013).
Pinterest is a social networking web platform where users share images found on the Internet using the "Pin it" tool. Like a billboard where images are pinned, this website allows its users to sort web images that grabbed their attention by pinning them to their related category. Created by the user himself, each category of interest includes images that can be easily found by other users who search for images related to the same subjects.
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