Ways to Use Social Networks to Market Your Business Online

Considering setting up a social networking site or fan page for your business? At first, you may feel overwhelmed, confused, or uncertain about where to begin. They all offer free personal branding and methods for connecting with others and sharing information – but which is right for YOUR business?

A good starting point is understanding what each individual social networking site does – and then evaluating which site (or sites) would best help your business.

Twitter allows you to send short, quick updates to large numbers of people at once. In fact, the focus is on the message itself – and not on a profile page with pictures or extensive biographies. Another unique thing about this social network is that it links people to celebrities and people who are experts in their fields. It’s a great way to build relationships. Twitter is rapidly growing and some experts believe it may one day surpass Facebook as the most popular social network.

Facebook is great for staying in touch, maintaining more personal relationships, or building relationships with people you may (or may not) already know. Especially with the new profile page redesign, Facebook puts an emphasis on photographs as well as status updates and an information “feed” of all other activity. Businesses can create fan pages that allow people to “like” them – and provide status updates, photos, contests, and other methods of keeping customers, clients, colleagues, and other business owners up-to-date and connected. Best of all, Facebook can be linked to Twitter and simultaneously updated with minimal work. It’s been said that ignoring Facebook is business negligence, due to the sheer number of people (ahem, potential clients/customers) who use the network.

LinkedIn is first and foremost a business professional’s social network. It is perfect for connecting with and maintaining relationships with current, former and potential colleagues, customers/clients, business owners and business partners. The best part is, due to the business focus, there is little likelihood that your LinkedIn connections will be given an unprofessional glimpse into your life – which is certainly a risk with some other social networks. One downside of LinkedIn? It doesn’t have as large of an audience as Facebook or Twitter, so reaching your target audience of potential customers and clients may prove to be difficult.