Eleanor Ross outlines the social media platforms that small businesses should be using to stay ahead

Exclusive: Bye-bye Facebook, the future of social media for small businesses

New social media makes communication far easier than the Enigma code.
New social media makes communication far easier than the Enigma code.

It’s 3am in 2016. Bleary-eyed, you stumble away from your desk, switch off the desk light and pick up your phone to set an alarm for the morning. You decide to log on to your social media site to see if you have any messages. But the background isn’t blue, it’s yellow. Welcome to next-gen social media.

Social media entrepreneurs are coming up with ingenious ways to stay connected, and the common denominator of new ideas is privacy. It’s clear to see what’s bothering current social media users.

From book shares, to Unii, which allows students to share thoughts and ideas privately so parents can’t see what they’re up to, networks are becoming more specific and are moving away from the concept of public sharing and caring.

Small businesses need to keep up to date with advances in social media. What would you think of a business that still directed all of its business through Myspace? You wouldn’t trust them to be at the forefront of business. If people start to shut down Facebook, will you know where to turn? Get on top of new social media trends now, so you’re not left floundering.

The next big hitter?

Ello has been lauded as the “next” Facebook. It hasn’t yet completed beta testing, but it’s already had so many requests to join that it’s had to close the invite system.

It sells itself as “ad free”, with a social conscience. It operates like a private members club. You can apply for an invite (good luck), but your best chance of joining is to be invited by somebody who is active on the site. This gives it an air of exclusivity and that it’s where all the cool kids are hanging out.

The hype around Ello is #FOMO to the extreme, and that’s probably one of the reasons why it gets so many joining requests.

Take a peek at what could be the future of social media

Edgee founder Markus Maeir describes his new social media network as “a platform that changes how people share and consume content online. What Pinterest does for visual exploration, we do for ‘intellectual exploration’.” Maeir’s lightbulb moment came when he realised much of the content being shared on Facebook included blogs about Justin Bieber. “I thought of having a consistent place for quality content that inspires curiosity. I felt quality content needed a home online, which is why I created edgee.”

Edgee’s aim isn’t to directly compete with big social media networks likeFacebook and Twitter. “But while a tweet or a Facebook post only allows for limited self-expression, edgee collections are made to provide nuance, context and in-depth exploration. People who know that most topics are more complex than 140 characters will join edgee,” says Maeir.

How is this useful for small business owners?

Maeir believes edgee will allow small businesses to reach out to potential audiences in a way that promotes substance over show: “In this way, it will be easy for small businesses to demonstrate their expertise and gain attention through their unique insights. We believe this to be a rather genuine and organic way for small businesses to develop trust and understanding with potential clients.”

Ekaterina Lengefield created YourInterest, an app that connects people based on their interests. “I think people are getting fatigued with social media. You have to create a profile and build up this online persona. YourInterest is great for small businesses because they can put on events through the app and invite other members with similar interests to events, thus getting more notice.”

Lengefield gives an example of one of her friends who struggled to drum up interest in an environmental start-up when he was at university: “My friend was at Oxford and was trying to find people who were interested in environmental issues and start-ups, but he just couldn’t get the message out there. When he managed to find a few people he then had to sort it all himself, pay for room costs, and it cost him a lot of money and time. It would have been a lot quicker with YourInterest!”

If you need a specialised social media app?

Procurious targets professionals who work in procurement and the supply chain. Founder Tania Seary describes it as “a niche Linkedin, for those who want to advance their careers, get the latest news and insight from others in the profession”. It’s ideal for small businesses working in these industries, as it provides discussion forums, a news service, “bite-size online training videos”, and networking opportunities. Seary believes Procurious can work alongside traditional social media but it will enhance your online experience.

Being a member of the site can help ‘globally dispersed teams’ and is particularly handy for professionals as those who work in logistics and supply are often on the move.”

Seary explains why smaller businesses should use the site: “Small businesses can also ensure their procurement staff are undertaking the online e-learning modules as part of their KPIs to help them upskill, as well as network with suppliers, wholesalers and businesses around the world.”

For those who want their social media to be more wide-ranging

Tagstr offers something slightly different for a small media network. It focuses on “sharing and capturing experiences” through #tags.

“Businesses can share videos, films, and audio files on the go, or from the desk,” says Michael Venn, founder of Tagstr. Tagstr is the opposite of a private network, and allows you to share things with the world. You can upload a file, tag it with the word “invoice” for example, and you will see media files related to that.

“The high quality uploads allow them to present their products and services in a fantastic way, where everyone can easily view them,” says Venn.

Venn came up with the idea after noticing that you could only see things depending on what you or your friends “liked”. “With Tagstr, interests and ideas can be tagged in real-time,” says Venn.

Tagstr seems to be all about streamlining social media. “Tagstr doesn’t focus on friends or followers, but rather on interests, trends and high-quality media sharing, which presents a great opportunity for small businesses to engage in social media and online promotion.”

This content has been sponsored by O2 Business, whose brand it displays. All content is editorially independent.


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