Which Social Networks Should You Be On?

We're all pressed for time these days, and it can be challenging to figure out how to spend our limited resources. With so many social networks out there - from Twitter to Pinterest to Ravelry to Orkut - where should you be? Here's a quick guide.

So many networks. From Flickr user socialmediahq.
Facebook - if you're a business-to-consumer operation, you'll need a Facebook page. You can target people by age, location, and interests to draw more fans.

LinkedIn - if you sell to other businesses, if you're a consultant, if you need to hire some new employees or vendors, or you're looking for people with whom to make business deals, you'll need a LinkedIn profile.

YouTube - YouTube is a great way to reach people with videos about your products and services. Teach people new ways to use your offerings and they'll value it more.

Twitter - Twitter is another way to connect to fans with current news and to follow trends. Hold events on Twitter and you can generate tons of traffic. It's a perfect place for flash sales and a must if you run a business that changes locations frequently, like a food truck. But if you don't maintain it and engage with it frequently, Twitter is useless.

Pinterest - Currently taking the world by storm, Pinterest is a place where people collect photos of things they like. Whether you're selling clothing, cars, garden supplies, or something else, put your products on Pinterest and inspire people. Pinterest has everything from home decor to hair style to pet costume ideas for you.

Google+ - To me, Google+ seems like a bit of an echo chamber. While hangouts with famous people (like the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu) draw big audiences, the site doesn't seem to be sticky for most regular folks. At the moment, power users of Google+ seem to be software developers, bloggers, marketers and other technical or communications types. It's a good space to watch to see what develops. The interface itself is great - it's just a matter of convincing people that they need to visit more often. Using Google+ can also help your search results, and it's a channel to consider for that reason.

Other special networks - If you're in to fiber arts, check out Ravelry. If you sell black eyeliner and and ankle-length leather coats, then it's time for VampireFreaks.com (note: NSFW). And if you want to establish a closed network for people who work at your company only, give Yammer a try. If you operate outside the US, do a little research - people in other countries may use different social networks than they do here in the States.

I'd recommend that most businesses try to maintain a major presence on only three or four networks - maybe Facebook, YouTube, (if you have the video assets), and one or two more.  The most important part about your social networks is that you maintain them regularly. Networks like Twitter and Facebook require daily posting to be effective. Be realistic - if one social network is all you can manage, do that, and do it right.

Where's your social space? Drop me a line and let me know.

4 comments:

  1. I would also include Merchant Circle!

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  2. Hi Susan - thanks for your comment. Can you tell me more about the social functions of Merchant Circle? I know businesses can be listed, can advertise, and can be reviewed on there, but I didn't realize that a lot of connecting between reviewers happened - as it does on Yelp. How does that work on Merchant Circle?

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  3. You invite other merchants to share with you...the person with the most connections becomes mayor of the city! Besides offering status updates...you can boot, publish, make product announcements, schedule appointments, answer questions, and advertise...plus Merchant Circle is geographically oriented so aids with yelp, yellow pages, et al. Check out the page that I manage for Friedland & Associates in Fort Lauderdale and. please give me your feedback!

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  4. Susan, that is really interesting - it sounds almost like FourSquare with the mayors and all. What has been the effect of you connecting with other merchants in your area - are you getting referrals or networking with people who aren't on LinkedIn or other networks? It sounds like merchantcircle is definitely the place to be for local businesses.

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