The Social Media Suite

No need to choose among social media sites. Twitter and Pinterest offer unique qualities for brands that complement their presence on Facebook.Why should you tweet? What's Pinterest? Answer: two of the fastest growing social media sites on earth.

In his recent blog, Brian Solis called Twitter a "human seismograph," with more than 100 million users measuring world events, popular culture and everyday sentiment, 140 characters at a time.

Pinterest, a visual site that allows users to pin photos, slideshows and video on digital boards, is the fastest growing social media platform, with more than 10.4 million users in just two years. More important, data shows Pinterest drives referral traffic to websites at rates higher than Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

Twitter and Pinterest user numbers are dwarfed by Facebook's more than 900 million users and 26.4 percent traffic referral rate. But Twitter and Pinterest are carving out significant niches that have many companies and nonprofits flocking to them as vigorously as Facebook.

News outlets use tweets to announce breaking news or special features, which earn clicks to their online homes. Tweeting also is being employed as a way to boost audience interest for major events such as the Olympics in London.

Pew Research data indicates active Twitter users tend to be younger, with a high percentage of black and Hispanic users than other social media. More than 28 percent of African-Americans online use Twitter. About the same number of men and women use Twitter and the household income range of users is fairly even from top to bottom. One in five smartphone users use Twitter and the rate of adoption is accelerating for both young and old users.

What if you don't want to tweet? First check out our blog Nothing to Tweet for some ideas. Also consider using Twitter as a monitoring tool. Create keyword searches for your brand using Twitter Search to find out what your customers are saying about your company. This can be an excellent way to gauge your online reputation.

Brands employ Pinterest boards to showcase visual dimensions of their products, especially aspects that appeal to females, who constitute 80 percent of the social media site's visitors. More than 50 percent of female visitors are 34 years old or younger, while 57 percent enjoy household incomes of $50,000 or more. Pinterest naturally attracts return clicks and visitors tend to spend substantial amounts of time on the site

While Facebook remains a great place to socialize online and learn about products, Twitter and Pinterest are emerging as important category killers for reaching target audiences. Twitter gives users instant access to information. Pinterest delivers visually appealing, neatly packaged eye candy. Both can transport you quickly and with focus to a website, which isn't necessarily a Facebook strength.

Of course, you don't have to be monogamous. Smart brands are active on multiple social media sites. Whole Foods Market uses Twitter to announce specials and seasonal offerings and Pinterest to highlight recycling, cool kitchens and food art. It is also active on Facebook.

The Whole Foods example tells all you need to know — there is more to social media than Facebook. Twitter and Pinterest offer smart choices for content aimed at segmented parts of your target audience.