Social media has taken not only the internet, but the world by storm. From one-on-one conversations between friends, to multi-billion dollar business alliances, social media has and is transforming the way the world socializes and the way it does business.
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In less than six years, Facebook has morphed into a global sensation with over five hundred million users. Since its inception, dozens of other social media sites have sprung up. Many have withered and left for "cyber-heaven," others are kicking in the cyber-door and becoming significant players in.
These top five social media companies and networks are attracting attention and look to be here for the long term. (Quit your job, be your own boss and earn a paycheck. Find out what to do to make it happen. Refer to Start Your Own Small Business.)
Vimeo is a video sharing site that Mashable.com calls YouTube's "artsy cousin." Home to artistic and creative video talent the site has channels, categories and groups that feature a bounty of talented videographers. From stunning travelogues to short films to political activism speeches, this site covers everything video. Vimeo can be uploaded across multiple other social platforms including Facebook and smartphones. The videos can be also viewed through your television using GoogleTV, Boxee or VizioTV.
It is the major international video sharing service with a strong presence in South America. Adding additional services such as increased upload limits, HD capabilities and an HTML5 player will see their user numbers increase. Their free service offers the user plenty of space, ease of use and extensive privacy settings. The Plus service is $9.95 per month and gives unlimited HD uploads, 5GB of space per week and the ability to archive your videos. They do not allow commercial content of any kind; only creative and artistic endeavors. If you dream of being the next Spielberg this is a good place to start.
Screenr allows you capture your computers screenshot add audio and with a click share it. An extremely easy program to use, it doesn't require that you download anything. You can record you screen images, format them, add audio and have a complete presentation within minutes that can be uploaded to Twitter, Facebook or downloaded as an MP4.
It offers an easy way to create a brand, show-off your businesses expertise, and embed videos on blogs and websites. Screenr Business allows user businesses to share information publicly or privately between associates and offices, giving employees around the globe the ability to easily collaborate. It also gives businesses the ability to see a customer problem instantly. Creating demos for clients, user guides, teaching/educational instruction or just for sharing with friends and family, and it can be integrated with Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
The basic program is free, but there is a pay Pro section for business. They have recently added features that allow users to playback their presentations on virtually any device: iPhone, iPads and Androids.
This new platform offers "one-stop" publishing. Creating a presence on social media sites can be very time consuming. Postling was created to allow the user the ability to post once and have that post be immediately uploaded to all their social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, Wordpress, LinkedIn, YouTube and several others. Postling allows you to schedule your posts, and emails you a log of activity from all you social media accounts. Users can even respond to comments via Postling. For businesses, Postling monitors your companies keywords then sends you an email when those keywords are mentioned. A one-user account is offered for free. Subscriptions are available for additional users and businesses.
Using existing social media such as Facebook and Twitter, Groupon offers "collective buying power" to consumers. The process is simple: sign up using your email address and select the city nearest you. You will receive offers daily from local merchants on special deals available only to Groupon members. It has proven to be very effective in reaching new customers. Groupon, which is expected to IPO this summer, is the world's fastest growing website. (Learn more in Is Groupon Good For Business?)
Groupon now has over 13 million members, 8,000 employees, is available in 88 U.S. cities, and 46 countries. It has earned over 600 million in revenue and is still growing with ventures into television with deals offered by contestants on Bravo's "Top Chef."
The idea is simple, but brilliant. With your smartphone or via texting, GPS technology shows the user's location and sends it to their list of contacts. These can be open or private depending on the settings chosen. Users can bookmark information about locations, businesses and brands they like or don't like.
If a user frequents a particular business, they can share this location each time they visit, those with the most visits can earn points, collect badges and become a virtual "mayor," which gives that user additional discounts for being a loyal customer.
Businesses get instant feedback on their products, gain new customers, and have access to instant international marketing of their product or service. With over 10 million users, 400,000 participating merchants, and three million check-ins daily, Foursquare is a social media newcomer to be reckoned with.
The Bottom Line
There are others climbing the social media chain, but these five are the ones that seem to have navigated the murky waters of dot com start-ups and are rising fast. (Give your business what it needs to thrive and it will reward you for years to come. See 9 Tips For Growing A Successful Business.)
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