CIO Symmetry

Nov 11 2011   2:20PM GMT

New social media platforms Tumblr and Pinterest make waves

Wendy Schuchart Wendy Schuchart Profile: Wendy Schuchart

Everyone and their neighbor has heard about Twitter and Facebook, but CIOs should have some new social media platforms on their radar. They’re all part of the social media trend called instablogging. That’s right, those social media magpies are bored writing 140-character tweets and now publish to their networks by clicking a single button.

Tumblr is a combination of Twitter and blogging, but with a visual slant. This social media upstart has seen tremendous growth in its use throughout 2011; according to the Nielsen Media Q3 2011 Social Media report, it’s now the third-most-visited social media website after Facebook and Blogger. Yep, it was even more popular than Twitter and LinkedIn this year, tripling its usage compared to 2010.

Just as Tumblr is a clone of Twitter and Facebook, it has its own cadre of clones as well. Pinterest, for instance, is akin to a visual link aggregator — like Twitter with images. As such, it works best with visually interesting concepts and photographs, but a single “pin” can propagate throughout the Pinterest network like wildfire. While the visual Pinterest is still in private beta, it seems to have found instant success with female users — a highly covetable consumer segment. Expect Pinterest to be a major player in 2012, and make sure you’re watching your company’s brand and reputation play out in this space.

Similar to Pinterest, Instagram takes a user’s smartphone’s internal camera and runs with it, melding user-created photographs with social media platforms. It allows unlimited characters for text, and integrates with most of the major players, like Twitter and Facebook. It would be very easy for an employee to innocently share photos of something humorous (but potentially embarrassing) around the workplace and blast it out to their enormous social network. Are you cringing right now?

These new heirs to the Twitter and Facebook throne should serve as a reminder to revisit your social media policy regularly. Make sure that the wording is inclusive, covering not just a single social media network, but all current and future social media platforms as well.

The important thing to note is that this latest generation of social media offerings allows users to connect and interact with users outside their social networks. Unlike Facebook, your customers don’t have to be “friends” with someone to see what they’re publishing. Facebook’s privacy issues are constantly ruffling feathers, but the new kids on the social media block aren’t concerned with who sees what. These users seem to understand that what they put on the Internet is, you know, on the Internet. This should be a relief — at least when it comes to concerns about proprietary information leaking out. But then again, there’s always that misguided worker in every bunch.

Another important thing to note is the sense of discovery with your company’s online audience. Savvy customers are leaning away from Google searches, with its misleading SEO tricks and system-gaming. Traditional search logic could fall by the wayside as Jane or Joe Consumer rely less on “Googling” and more on what their private curators and tastemakers on the latest crop of social media sites have to say. The CIO who figures out how to harness that tidal shift will be a force of nature.

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