Choosing Social Networking Sites Carefully

Social NetworkEveryone knows how big social networking is for business owners these days.  Social networking was originally intended to make it easier to maintain personal relationships, but businesses have made social networking a priority as well.  Premier sites have made it possible for businesses to grow their contact lists, manage their relationships and created the concepts of viral marketing.

Businesses of all sizes have taken part in social networking to promote their business in ways that they could never have dreamed of fifteen years ago.  Executives from all Fortune 500 companies promote their business on LinkedIn and companies with no marketing budget have the opportunity to make themselves front page news all over the country.

In order to make the most of social networking, businesses must learn to manage their social networking resources carefully.  It requires an investment of time and sometimes money just like anything else.  If a company wishes to benefit from social networking they must manage these resources carefully.

One of the mistakes that entrepreneurs often make is choosing the wrong social networks to invest in.  They end up spreading themselves too thin rather than focusing on the most appropriate sites.

Facebook is still the most popular social networking site and it’s free.  However, entrepreneurs must be careful not to make the mistake many others make investing all their time there.  Currently Facebook users are made up predominantly of people aged 25-54, with another 25% being 18-24.

In recent years more emphasis has been placed on business networking through Facebook.  Nevertheless, it is not as effective for professional networking as sites like LinkedIn, and Twitter is just as good a platform for many viral marketing programs.

A number of new sites other than LinkedIn have been created for business networking.  Some of the more popular sites include Xing and Ryze.  Xing is a great platform but it is difficult to get much of it without paying for the premium services.  Ryze is a good social network for new entrepreneurs, but it is not as popular as it was when it was first introduced.

These sites still can be worth joining even for users who aren’t interested in paying for premium memberships.   However, if they have a hard time finding and connecting with other users with the free plan, they should be careful before they invest a substantial amount of time and energy using them.

Businesses especially need to be concerned about the number of paid business networking sites that are almost completely inactive.  They exist only to continue scraping membership fees, mostly from new clients who don’t know what (or how little) they are actually getting from the services.  I won’t name any of the sites I have joined here, but I have run into a number of them.

The best rule of thumb is to focus on either the most popular networking sites or those that are most specifically targeted to a niche audience.  New businesses must always keep in mind that benefits from social networking only come with hard work.  They must approach social networking just like any other business strategy and look for the best return on their investment.

About the Author: Kalen Smith is the founder of Engineer-a-Business, a provider of business-to-business services and informational products for developing technology businesses. Read more about Kalen here.


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