Being Bruce -: Business Social Media Tip #4 - Choose Carefully and Start Slowly

Monday, October 5, 2009

Business Social Media Tip #4 - Choose Carefully and Start Slowly

You don’t need to sign up for every social media application. While you may add applications in time, especially as you experience success and payback from your initial social media efforts, when you’re just starting it’s best to limit yourself to carefully selected applications.

New social media applications appear daily, but at first it’s best to stick to a few major sites. There’s no financial charge to join and participate in social media (at least not today, in the future that may change) so cost isn’t an issue in your choice.

My recommendation for businesses is to start with Facebook (www.facebook.com) and Twitter (www.twitter.com) with a personal listing on LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com). It’s not the purpose of this tips list to define, teach, or explore the nuances of any social media site, however, here’s a quick rundown of the applications I’ve mentioned:

• Facebook is currently the most powerful site for personal and company pages, with emphasis on community, media, connections, communications, play, and promotion. You can use it to set up a personal page, to make connections with clients and your sphere of influence, to set up a page for your business, and to promote events. There are a multitude of special interest groups on Facebook and you’ll likely be invited to become a “Fan” of many causes, companies, and events in fairly short order.

• Twitter is a microblogging service on which you can use a maximum of 140 characters to say hello, share a link, ask questions, promote causes or events, or converse. Twitter is used by international news media to distribute and gather news, so at times searching the Twitter “stream” is the fastest way to track breaking news. Twitter can seem overwhelming or nonsensical at first, but it’s actually a highly malleable media – used for many different purposes. At first it’s best to set up a personal Twitter account, choose some people to follow, and start to attract followers. As you gain familiarity with Twitter you’ll be better prepared to implement your actual purpose for using social media.

• LinkedIn is best considered an online resume database. People use LinkedIn for much more than just personal facts and history. Recommendations are prized and LinkedIn also includes an introduction feature if it turns out someone you already know is connected to someone you’d like to meet.

So start with those three and spend at least a month or two learning the ropes. It’s a more effective use of your time to maximize your presence on a few powerful social media sites than to sign up for a multitude of sites with no time to explore and make the most of any.

The next social media site to consider is a social networking site. These are usually set up at no or little charge to the founders and include local, regional, professional and special interest social networking sites. They are often called “Ning” sites after the online service of that name (www.ning.com) used to create, share, and promote social media networks. Often all you have to do is create a simple profile, connect with others on the network, and notice the members’ blog posts, event announcements, and photo and video uploads before deciding how you will use the service.

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