Socializing is a primal human need; it is no wonder then that social networking sites are such a hit among people from all walks of life and different age groups. The astounding popularity of the medium has not only created an online flurry but also it has made a significant impact on the business world. Given the sheer number of people who frequent social networking platforms every day, there exist a stupendous potential for business marketing.
So, if you are all set to jump on the social networking bandwagon but do not know where to start, here is a look at the different types of social networking sites and how you can use them for your business.
The different types of social networking sites
While names such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace inevitably spring out at the mention of the term social networking; in reality, there are several dozen social platforms each with its own unique appeal. These sites can be broadly divided into two categories:
Broad spectrum social networking: These sites are geared towards encouraging communication in the true sense of the word. They were designed to motivate likeminded people from all over the world to seek out others who share the same interests and passions. Popular examples of broad spectrum social networking platforms include Facebook and MySpace.
Niche specific social networking: This is essentially an umbrella term that encompasses a myriad of social networking sites dedicated to a multitude of niches or media types. For instance a site such as Youtube is exclusively devoted to video sharing while LinkedIn is used by professionals to advertise their qualifications and expertise. Some of the popular sub categories that fall under niche specific social networking include:
- Video sharing: Sharing videos is not only a fantastic way to build rapport with your customers but also it can add momentum to your SEO efforts. Even if you cannot rank high on Google, securing the top spot on Youtube can get you ample of attention from existing and future clients.
- Picture sharing: The most popular site in this subcategory is Flickr; you simply have to upload relevant pictures and tag them with the right keywords. We have all heard the old adage, “a picture is worth a thousand words”, it certainly holds true when relaying important information about your company. Photo sharing sites also allow you to get comments from people on your pictures.
- Professional networking: The ability to network and forge ties with people has rightly been touted as the most important asset of a professional. Sites such as LinkedIn allow people to stay connected with coworkers long after they have moved to another organization.
- Social bookmaking sites: These sites offer you a way in which you can share information about a web page that you really liked with others who may be interested in the niche. Your book marking acts like an endorsement and often helps people to decide if they really want to spend their time rummaging through certain web pages.
However, listing these subcategories is akin to merely scratching the surface of the phenomenon that is social networking. There are a plethora of other platforms such as those exclusively dedicated to e-learners, scientific community, academically inclined individuals and more.
How to promote your business on different networks?
Social is the operative word in the phrase social networking, so socializing is the key to building a fan following on these sites regardless of the niche that they are dedicated to. However, it is vital to understand that while each one of these forums serves a unique purpose, there are some standard rules to using social networking sites for your business.
Rule One: Create a profile that makes people sit up and take notice:
You can choose just about any social networking site and the first thing you will be expected to do is create a profile for yourself. Although the terminology used by the various social networking platforms may differ, at the end of the day, your profile presents you an opportunity to shine the spotlight on your business, its products, services, staff and accomplishments etc.
So, be prepared to impress when creating your profile; everything from the background of the page to the information added to it including pictures, videos etc should all be reflective of your niche and business values. Do not forget to gently nudge people towards your website by inserting the url to your blog and site on the profile page. It is imperative to understand that your profile can make or break your chances of surviving in the world of social networking, so you will need to put your best foot forward.
Rule Two: Understand your audience
Since you are on a social networking site, you will be expected to communicate. Like any offline communication, gauging the pulse of your audience; their likes, dislikes etc is a sure fire way of creating rapport and building credibility. To put it simply, it would be futile to constantly talk about insurance when trying to promote a business associated with gardening. Needless to say, at some point the spammy promotions will certainly exasperate your audience, many of who will stop following you while others may even report you to site admin.
Rule Three: Be an active socializer:
The trick to making social networking sites work for you is to create a splash and get as much attention as you can from your fellow socializers. While there are several ways to augment the number of followers in your list, the most effective technique is to get out there and be a part of a conversation. Follow others, offers your ideas, comments and views on what’s going on in your chosen niche, observe and learn from the experts and pretty soon, you will have a fan base to reckon with.
A social media start-up called WorkForFavor aims at making this task easier for social media marketers: it allows members to easily organize groups of people to promote your content (via building healthy social media relationships).
If you thought that social networking is simply for teenagers and youngsters trying to kill time, think again. Social networking platforms have managed to enthrall people from various cultures, age groups and economic strata. If you have not yet cashed in on the immense appeal of social networking, you are missing out on a humongous pool of potential clients; can you really afford to do so in this day and age of cut throat competition?