By Maura Mitchell. Originally published in the Marketing Executives Networking Group Blend Blog.
You’re on top of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn (and for those of you on the AP track, foursquare.) Now it’s time to start testing the next batch of hot social networks: StumbleUpon, Pinterest, and Instagram.
Why should you worry about them? Because all three have features that make them stand out from the crowd. More importantly, consumers are flocking to them.
Here are the fast facts.
StumbleUpon is a “discovery engine.” Consumers register, enter their interests, and “stumble” from site to site suggested by the service. Users rate each website thumbs up or thumbs down, so the engine gets smarter about a user’s preferences over time.
Consumers love StumbleUpon because it exposes them to interesting, unexpected content on their favorite topics. Plus it’s addictive, creating that “I just want to look at one more site before I stop” feeling.
Marketers are intrigued because StumbleUpon is the #1 social network for generating website traffic, its sessions average three times longer than Facebook’s, and brands can use “paid discovery” to get their content included in stumbles.
Pinterest is the online analog of an old fashioned cork bulletin board. Consumers search the Internet for pictures and create pinboards of their favorites by topic: “my fashion,” “my dream house,” etc. Their friends can add, comment, and “repin” pictures to their own boards.
Consumer interest is so strong that Pinterest is limiting the number of invitations. The social network appeals to people who have the collector gene plus anyone who likes being creative. It’s got an avid following among women 25-54, and currently slants towards pinboards about fashion, food, and home décor.
Companies are just starting to experiment with Pinterest now that it has entered the top 10 most popular social sites. Check out Whole Foods and west elm to see how some of the best pinners are using the site to build their brands.
Instagram is all about telling stories visually by merging photo sharing, geolocation, and social media. The Instagram app is free, but it is currently only available for the iPhone.
Today, Instagram has roughly 15 million users. It’s adding over 2 million new people per month, growing faster than foursquare. Instagram lets consumers apply effects, filters, and tags to their photos then post on multiple social networks. Users love that their pictures look creative and they can share them across social sites.
Starbucks was fast out of the blocks with Instagram. Other early adopter brands include Red Bull and Burberry.
What are your thoughts about StumbleUpon, Pinterest and Instagram? Are there other brands you would add to the list of best practitioners?