This article was excerpted from OPEN Book: Social Media. Find more resources and information from OPEN at openforum.com/socialmedia.
There are literally hundreds – strike that – thousands of social media sites and applications. For small businesses, the following are the digital outposts Anita Campbell recommends as giving the best ROI for the time and money spent.
Twitter is a powerhouse for connecting with like-minded people, developing relationships, getting customer feedback and increasing brand visibility. It’s also becoming a major traffic driver back to small business websites. Twitter works especially well with a blog, if you share links to your blog content with your Twitter followers.
Every professional should have a LinkedIn profile to display credentials. But to get real value out of LinkedIn, you need more. Consider setting up a LinkedIn Group around your business or around a topic your customers are interested in. Participate not only in your own Group, but join other related Groups too. Ask and answer questions in the LinkedIn Answers section. LinkedIn is a particularly good outpost to monitor those who market to the corporate or enterprise market – or who are hiring.
You can set up a YouTube channel to display videos that relate to your business, such as product demonstrations, how-to tutorials or website tour videos. People will find the videos by searching on YouTube itself, or by finding video results through search engines. Videos are one of the most viral (shared) forms of content today.
For many small businesses, Facebook is where your target market is networking and spending free time. You want to be seen there with a personal profile (for personal branding as an expert, speaker or author) and with a business/fan page around which your business can build a community. Remember to update your business page regularly.
If you are in the entertainment business or market to the youth market, a MySpace page is a useful outpost.
Slideshare.net and other document-sharing sites
If you are in any kind of business or profession where you generate knowledge pieces in the form of PDF reports, PowerPoint presentations, spreadsheets, forms and the like, then document-sharing sites are a way to show off your expertise. Set up a channel at key document-sharing sites. Remember to feed your content to these sites regularly.
Don’t forget the old-fashioned online forum/discussion board, especially for niche industries. You can find forums on just about any topic or any industry. Become an active participant or a moderator, answering queries and dispensing advice. Don’t forget product forums on corporate sites if you have product expertise and are a service provider or consultant – they are a great place to show off your knowledge.