Which social networks are best for business?

I just launched this blog which prompted me to re-visit and update my online network profiles. It made me think about what makes a good profile, and indeed re-consider whether I still wanted to hang around on these networks.

Apart from being heartily sick of looking at my two-year old profile photo (must change that), these were a few other things to consider.

Which networks?

I learnt all this social media carry-on while developing Marketing Donut together with the other boffins at BHP. Luckily we had social marketing ninja Mark Sinclair on hand to guide us. Back then, the main networks I got value from then were Twitter, LinkedIn and Ecademy. Nothing has made me change my mind now that I’m in business for myself. There’s no shortage of info on what these services offer, so I’m not going to regurgitate that advice. But here’s why I like them.

Twitter

  • Dead simple to use (especially with Tweetdeck or similar)
  • Have it on in the background while you work and Tweet whenever you feel like it
  • Each new development makes it easier to use and gives you more scope to connect and develop relationships.

LinkedIn

  • Takes more work than Twitter.
  • Filtering allows you to identify people you want to connect with and maybe influence.
  • Tells you when your old school mate lands another ridiculously high-flying job.

Ecademy

  • Kind of love it and loath it, but can’t give it up!
  • Very global and there’s a worrying amount of hippy nonsense, but still…
  • Awesome SEO puts you page one if you update the site regularly.

No doubt I’ll get some grief about these descriptions, but that’s what came to mind.

Should each profile be different?

It would have made my life easy to just write a profile once and bang the same thing onto every network. But, when you write, you write for an audience, and each network has a different audience. Indeed, each is quite different in its intent, vibe and etiquette.

So I tend to improvise a bit around some common themes, namely what I’m interested in and how I can help.

How much time to spend on social marketing and networks?

No one can answer that. Like anything…  (wait, here it comes!)…  the more you put in the more you get out. The good news is that these tools are built to interlink with each other, your site or blog. So you can use one platform to update your status on another.

Example: LinkedIn updates can be triggered to appear on your Twitter feed.

Most people use the networks to drive people to their blog/site and once again that is made easy.

Example, you can feed your WordPress blog straight into LinkedIn.

Time was when doing more advanced social networking was seen as bleeding edge stuff. And it would (cough) “get your firm new business at little or no cost”. Right.

A lot of marketing people piled in and set up as Social Marketing experts. But every passing day these tools become more mainstream and easier to use. Businesspeople are learning to do it for themselves.

I tend to work with small or medium sized organisations that want to do this kind of marketing but just need a helping hand. Often I’ll set them up with systems and some training, until they’re confident enough to continue the work. I monitor progress and chip in with advice and tips. A problem that many run into fairly sharply is the continuing need for good, new content, day in day out, to feed the hungry marketing machine. That needs to be planned for too. You need an advance schedule and someone lined up to write/produce the content.

Let me know if any of this rings a bell?

{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Trevor Mullet 05/02/2010, 9:16 am

    There’s more to Ecademy than what you portray. The people I’ve met are great and very helpful.

  • sonja jefferson 07/02/2010, 8:20 pm

    Good article Mick. Might have to look again at Ecademy after reading your list.

    I still haven’t got my head around Facebook for business purposes but it seems that others in the UK are starting to use the Fan Pages to good effect (e.g. watching Wayne Smallman’s Octane Fan Page with interest – http://ow.ly/YV6T).

    Twitter and LinkedIn are drawing in very good leads these days though.

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