In this post, we’ll get a lay of the land in the realm of social media. There are some really big social networks that are important to know about but there are also smaller more niche networks that can be really valuable to your business – this post will help you understand what’s out there and how to figure out which social networks you should be part of.
When getting started with social media it helps to sort all the different networks into categories so that you can understand where you need to focus your attention. Let’s start with some of the biggest social networks that are out there. For example Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn have some very big audiences. I mean did you know that Facebook alone has more than a billion users across the globe.
This means that your existing and future customers are likely to be participating in these huge networks. So if you have a business, you should probably consider having a presence on these large networks so you can find them there. But beyond the big ones you’ll also find niche or industry specific players that cater to specific topics and specific audiences who really know their stuff and are looking for more detailed or insider content.
Think about sites like TripAdvisor for social travel reviews or open table in the restaurant space. There are lots of different sites out there dedicated to lots of different industries and you should search around to find the ones most important for your business and although membership on these sites might be smaller those members can be exactly the kind of people you’re looking to attract.
Another thing to think about when you’re deciding where you should participate is the purpose of each social network. For example some social networks are mostly used for personal relationships, some are more focused on sharing content and some are used for more professional networking. Let’s dig into that a little bit more.
Personal networks are ones where the people keep in touch with friends and family online but that doesn’t mean that you can’t participate as a business people discuss products and services. All the time you just need to be aware of the context. That means your update should be light and interesting and useful not salesy. For example a vintage clothing shop could post photos of a customer carrying a fabulous vintage handbag and that might get referenced or shared by people on the network exposing the business to more people .
Content sharing networks give potential customers information. They can sink their teeth into facts, figures, graphics reviews and things like that. For example YouTube where the same vintage clothing store could publish videos that show how to wear it or Pinterest where beautiful photos of street style outfits could be featured.
Professional networks tend to be aimed at the business world and attract people looking to network to find jobs or hire people. Again it’s important to know your context. Here you’re not likely to get much of a response by trying to sell vintage clothing here but you might be able to locate your next employee. On the other hand if you’re a business that sells to other businesses this might be exactly where you want to advertise your products and services to other professionals in a very specific industries or job roles.
In the end it’s all about understanding the objective of each network and the people hanging out there that you want to connect with. The big networks like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin Google+, YouTube and others have lots of users, so you’re likely to find lots of people there but beyond that you might find smaller networks dedicated to exactly what you do, filled with people who are super interested in the types of products and services that you offer.
With each network spend some time looking around to see how people are using it. This will help you better. Understand how you can participate in conversations or what kinds of content you might share.