Part of the problem here is that people are jumping into online marketing and having to deal with new terminology. Here is a quick rundown of what’s what and how to use it.
Blogs: Formally Web Logs are online journals. Items are posted and displayed in the sequence written. Popular free platforms include Google Blog Spot and WordPress. Blogs are powerful tools for website updating and management allowing the owner to login and post, bypassing a dependence on developers. Blogs appeared in the 1990s and have continued to grow in popularity ever since. Twitter is a type of blog called a Micro-blog working much like any other blog but only allowing users to post 140 characters.
Forums: Online communities or discussion boards. Users who share similar interest congregate online to discuss targeted topics. Forums are an important part of any online marketing program. Because the subjects are niche oriented a business can communicate with users about issues related to topics the business deals with. Word of caution, do not hard sell anything in forums they are often moderated and users will reject that approach. Start by simply participating in the conversation and encouraging two-way communication.
Wikis: A website powered by a database of information updated by online users. These systems allow the easy creation and editing of topical information — off topic information may be removed. Don’t try to post online advertisements about your businesses, but do write about things you are an expert on. According to Wikipeda, wiki sites first appeared in the mid 1990s.
Video and photo sharing: Sites like YouTube and Flickr allow the free and easy viral sharing of videos and photos. These files tend to be quite large and can eat storage space. When information “goes viral” it means it has gained widespread popularity through the process of Internet sharing.
Social news: Sites like Digg, launched in 2004, allow users to submit and vote on links or news stories. Votes from the community determine the placement or visibility of content submitted, those with higher ratings receiving higher placement. The social news phenomenon has led to the emergence of news aggregator sites where stories are collected and presented based on interest or topic. Marketers are free to share articles they write or articles found on other sites.
Mobile applications: These are little computer programs for your phone. iPhone is perhaps the most well know device using applications. Many of these programs are the quick, on the go link to social networking platforms. A site like Urbanspoon allows users to find a restaurant on the go. It is important, epically for businesses like attractions and restaurants, that the information on these apps is checked for accuracy. There is also an opportunity to react to bad comments and businesses are free to do so on some but should avoid nasty debates. Remember the Internet allows two-way communication, use it.