Social Networking for Small Business

Social Networking for Small BusinessesYou work for a small company, and you hear about all these “buzz words” for “social networking” but what does it all mean? My post this week is aimed at sharing some quick simple ways you can network your business and reach a broader audience in a timely affordable fashion.

CONTENT, CONTENT, CONTENT

The most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to social networking and PR is your content. Your content is who you are, why you are interesting, why people should care about what you have to say. As a small business looking to make a mark in a social media what you need to do is decide where you niche is going to be and write all of your content to be focused in that direction.

But blogging it time consuming….

I can’t tell you how often I hear this from just about every new client I work with, and it’s just not the case. Sure you have to put some time in to come up with something interesting to share with people, but if you are writing your blog about something that you are passionate about (namely your professional expertise) it’s really a lot easier than you think, besides sharing your knowledge and better positioning yourself as an expert in your industry should be something you’ll enjoy.

It’s easy and fun to expand your network, and here’s how!

First I would recommend choosing a platform to blog with, there are a bunch of programs out there, many of which are free, that allow you to easily set up a blog and start producing content right away. When you sign up for and establish your blog the one thing I would caution you about is how the blog is hosted. If you don’t have hosting of your own it’s not the end of the world the standard hosting provided by companies such as WordPress and Tumblr are just fine, but if you are planning on having more of a web site beyond the blog I would highly recommend you have your blog installed on your hosting server. The reason is that if your blog is hosted away from your main web site it means you won’t be taking full advantage of the traffic benefits the blog can bring to your web site because all of that activity will be happening outside of your hosted content, which means that search engines won’t relate all that wonderful search engine rich, topic specific content with your products and services. Trust me if you have option of doing so it’s well worth the effort (which isn’t all that difficult anyway) to have it installed properly.

Here are a few of the more popular blogging programs that I would recommend:

  • WordPress
  • Tumblr
  • TypePad
  • Movable Type

I could go on here but there have been countless articles written about this, like this fantastic blogging software review comparison done by one of my favorite resource sites www.sitepoint.com.

Okay so I have a blog, now how do I get people to read?

Once you have your platform all set up and your first posting written and published, now you just need the most important piece — READERS! So how do you get people to find and read your blog? This is where a good social networking plan comes in. Social networking is all about creating more direction connections with people who share your interests. What I recommend to all of my clients looking to create a stronger presence online is start by leveraging the following social media tools:

  • Facebook (great for building a casual network of friends, but also supplies the ability to create special “pages” for businesses and services that other people in the network can become a “fan” of. Facebook is also a great place to run Pay-Per-Click ads as they are very affordable easy to set up and highly targeted across a vast network of demographically identified people. Plus the size of the network currently stands somewhere around 140 million users and is growing at an obscene rate. You can check out all the stats of the network here. )
  • Twitter (an interesting application that allows you to post bits of information in 140 character increments. Works as a wonderful broadcast platform to share links and information. The community is currently standing at around 6 million users so there are plenty of people there that you can follow and who can follow you that have the same interests that you do.)
  • LinkedIn (Sometimes referred to as the business person’s Facebook, but it can and is so much more than that.  LinkedIn is a site where you can publish your professional information and background as well as connect and share with other professionals who share your interests. LinkedIn is also a wonderful platform share your expertise through their question and answers section, where you can post questions you have as well as answer other people’s questions, which are all organized and searchable by category.

These are just a handful of the tools available to you for networking your brand/identity online. Plan ahead, come up with some interesting topics and ideas and go out and start sharing. Social networking and blogging like many advertising programs will only yield as much as you put into it. I would recommend posting new information to your blog at least 3 times a week if you can, and then monitoring and posting links through your social networking platforms for them for at least 30 min a day. Keep at it and soon you will start to see the rewards of your efforts as your web site traffic and network connections boom!

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2 Responses to “Social Networking for Small Business”

  1. Branding & Marketing January 2, 2009 at 11:27 am #

    Hi Matt:
    Love your idea of using Twitter… That’s how I first came in contact with you and your company. I’m finding that so many of my favorite bloggers are writing a post, then sending a “tweet” with the headline and link. It’s a great way to get connected and stay on top of things.
    I’ve subscribed to your feed — looking forward to more posts!
    Chris Brown
    Branding & Marketing blog

  2. admin January 2, 2009 at 12:53 pm #

    Hi Chris, thanks for the comment. I am amazed by how useful Twitter is becoming to me, I have known about it for quite some time and have even had an account for many months, but only since I have begun to be active with it on a regular basis have I truly seen how powerful and useful it can be. It is serving as a primary growth agent for all of my other online marketing platforms, so easy to use, and so much information to learn from. I am recommending it to clients and friends alike constantly.