As a small business dips its toe into social media, the sheer volume of options is often overwhelming.
Online marketer, Jessica Kupferman is here to lend a hand with a high-level view of the most popular social media sites as well as an introduction to which sites are best used for which purposes.
Facebook is great for catching up with old friends, it’s true. But where Facebook really shines is how it gives users the ability to raise their hand and support their favorite people, organizations, and brands. By creating fan pages, you’re doing several things.
- You’ll have the ability to gain over 5,000 fans, something a personal profile page is limited to;
- You’ll be able to communicate to all the fans at once instead of 20 people at a time like the personal page, and
- You’re allowing users/consumers/volunteers/customers a chance to give you honest feedback, something invaluable to building better products and services. Use those old friends and contacts you’ve been connecting with on Facebook to build a fan base where you can start to grow.
But Twitter is a very powerful search and information tool as well. Those who are “plugged in” to their fields are reading and writing about their expertise on a daily basis and posting links and discussions about interesting topics on Twitter.
If you follow enough of these experts, you have access to articles and information you’d have never had before – and if you’re an expert yourself, you’ll start to contribute as well, share your knowledge and see if others have an affinity for your posts.
Twitter can make you look like a genius…and in addition, you can become one much faster.
Yes, LinkedIn is for business. Not all of your contacts on there will be business contacts, but essentially LinkedIn is for talking and connecting for business. Aside from who you already know, why is this useful?
Well, for starters, being able to recommend others and be recommended for your work is a great feature of LinkedIn. If you’re connected with colleagues and customers, having someone vouch for you publicly says a lot about you.
Another great use for LinkedIn is the groups. Joining groups on LinkedIn pertaining to your line of work and participating in the discussions can be both educational and a way to get your name out as someone who really knows what they’re talking about. Starting a group is an even better idea – it shows you’re passionate about your work and the issues surrounding it.
Flickr is an image and video hosting site – something very valuable when you’re posting a lot of content online. You can just link to the photos and videos right on Flickr (based on the type of license the contributor set) – which gives viewers an ability to comment on there as well as your blog, Facebook, etc.
Flickr is a great organization tool – you can make sets of photos, collections, etc. enhance the photos. In addition, your Flickr account will have it’s own RSS (real simple syndication) feed – so you can automatically post to your blog or Facebook page without having to take two steps
If your business is even the slightest bit visual, look into whether or not Flickr can be integrated into your online marketing strategy.
Everyone knows what YouTube is, it’s that website where you can see cats do all kinds of crazy stuff. When used correctly by a business however, YouTube can also be a great part of your social media strategy.
If you’re a company that manufactures things, why not post videos about how you make your products or do online tours of the facility?
If you’re an organization or service-based company, why not post video of events you host or attend, interviews you do with other specialized services, or just you conversing with your audience.
You can then link to these videos from your website, blog, Facebook page, etc. without having to host them and waste the space on your server.
There are of course many, many more social media sites that will fit in nicely into any online marketing strategy. However, the above are very popular – and just the beginning to a long and happy interactive relationship with your fans, consumers, volunteers, and customers. By utilizing just one of these sites, you are showing that you’re willing to listen to what people have to say about you – as well as participate in the conversation.
The question as to whether or not you use all of them is really answered by which aspect of the business you want to market – social aspect, professional aspect, etc. as well as how visual you can be with photos and video.
I also think that social media is successful if the people using the sites both fully understand how they work and feel passionately about using them – so if you hate Twitter, signing up and trying to use it will not be successful. If you enjoy Twitter but hate LinkedIn, you’re not going to spend as much time on that site and it’ll sit as a blank profile. Using what you like and knowing how it works can help you launch yourself further. However to this end, most people dislike using what they don’t know or understand – so it may be worth a look into the ins and outs of each program.