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This week as I was exploring social media tools beyond Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn – a.k.a. the “big four”, I stumled upon…well, StumbleUpon. StumbeUpon is a discovery engine that essentially helps drive traffic to your website. It uses “like” and “dislike” buttons and a recommendation technology that enables your audience to explore more content on your site. It also reaches out to people who are interested in your content, but wouldn’t have known about it otherwise.

According to an article on Ragan.com, StumbleUpon drives more traffic than Facebook and Twitter. In August and September 2011, 50.3% of website referrals came from StumbleUpon, followed by 37.4% from Facebook.

There’s so much potential of StumbleUpon in the Public Relations world. It can be used for essentially any product or service launch. For example, my company launched LIVEasy last year, a new, innovative insurance program designed for the busy professionals in mind. One of my projects this year is to explore and implement a social media strategy for our company, and I would definitely consider using StumbleUpon to promote this new product. The goal is to bring awareness to the consumers. Without StumbleUpon, consumers may not know that such an innovative insurance product exists and I’m going rely on this discovery engine to help bring traffic to our LIVEasy product page.

Now moving on to location-based services…do people really care where I am or where I’ve been? Do I care where they are? Plus I already use the check-in tool on Facebook. So why do I need foursquare?

20120202-204531.jpg The difference is that foursquare is more interactive. You can earn mayorship, badges and superuser status based on the number of check-ins you have. It’s a great way to find various venues in a place you’re not familiar with. For example, you’re in another city and you need gas. You can use foursquare to find a gas station close to you. And then you can check-in so that all your friends know where this gas station is. The next time they’re in the same area, they’ll know where to find gas. You can also use this to provide tips and reviews, similar to Yelp.

Businesses can use foursquare for various campaigns and promotions. For example, Pepsi uses foursquare to run a contest, taking advantage of the badges. Users who unlock the Pepsi Summer Fun badge are eligible to win tickets and a trip to an MLB World Series game, $500 gift cards and summer party kits from Pepsi. Even the news media are getting onboard. The National Post, Edmonton Journal and Vancouver Sun experimented with foursquare, where their editors placed editorial content as tips.

Before I explored foursquare, I only thought of foursquare as a check-in tool, which can easily be done through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. But after learning how businesses can integrate foursquare into their marketing efforts, I’m going to start using it and think of ways that our company can get involved.

My last exploration is the QR code, which is a 2-dimensional code that can be used for information and tracking. The underlying concept is that a user would scan the code using a smart phone, and it will take them to a webpage showcasing the company’s product, service, promotion, video, etc. Many PR professionals use QR codes in their mobile campaign. flyte has put together a list of 50 uses of QR codes including using them on business cards, conference name tags and banners.

QR codes are quick and easy ways for people to learn more about your company. Whether you’re promoting a specific product, service, contest or event, a QR code can drive traffic to your specified URL. People see it, they’re curious, they scan it.

Well there you have it. We are not limited to using the big four for our PR and social media strategies. The goal is to drive as much traffic as possible to your website or your campaign by using the big four and beyond.