The following is an excerpt from42 Rules of Social Media for Small Business by Jennifer L. Jacobson. To get your copy, visit: http://42Rules.com/jenniferjacobson
Rule 20: Know Your Social Media Platforms
You don’t have to know all of them, just the right ones.
While it is not necessary to memorize and keep track of every new social media platform available, it is essential that you have a fundamental
understanding of the types of social media platforms you can use for your business.
Audiences of the social networking sites vary from quilters, pet owners, teens, and tweens, to die-hard musicians, writers, and physicists. The MySpaces of the world where all the cool kids hang out, have evolved into sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Today there are many hybrids where grownups can blog, connect with their colleagues, see pictures of what their friends had for lunch, and buy their buddies a “virtual beer.”
The features and interactivity of these social networks change weekly. Your job is to establish yourself on a site that meets your needs while learning what that social network does well. Some sites have great community forums where people of a certain interest talk about their experiences and share what they know.
Blogging and Web Publishing Services
Use a blogging platform that makes it easy for your customers to find you. Some sites, like Facebook, require anyone viewing your site to have their own Facebook account, and nothing turns a customer off more than having to give Web companies their personal information to view a page. Find a service that you can easily use. Read the company’s about us page. Make sure they are not one of the “fly by night” dotcoms that may be gone tomorrow, taking your
hard-earned blog with them.
In-House and Independent Forums
Chances are you already have a company website and, if this is the
case, your in-house Web guru should be able to add a “blog” section
to your existing web page. If they are really good, they will be able to
have a section where your customers can discuss their thoughts in an
open forum. If you do not have an in-house forum, there are plenty of
online forums already in existence that should be appropriate to your
business’s area of interest. Depending on the type of company you
have, and your closeness with your customers, a forum can be a
wonderful thing. Many of your die-hard-loyal customers may be thrilled
to spend lots of time on your forum, answering questions for you and
raving about your products and services. These types of fans are worth
their weight in gold because they’re writing for the “love of the sport”
not because they are a paid viral marketer (but we’ll get to that later).
Depending on they type of business you run, this may be a great option
for you. Artists and comic book writers love this option because it gives
their fans a place to rant and rave about their work, and it establishes
them as a force to be reckoned with in their field. While a photo sharing
service may not be suitable for businesses selling accounting services,
they work well for businesses that sell specific, one-of-a-kind products.
Audio and Video Sharing
If your company has commercials that have aired on television, it might
be worth it to digitize the tape and upload the footage to YouTube. You
can then embed your YouTube video into your website for your
customers to watch. Be sure to customize your video or audio sharing
account with descriptions about your business, pictures, and other
videos, when appropriate. YouTube has a good variety of community
features, including the ability to subscribe to other people’s video
channels. Remember—only upload music and videos that you have
the rights to.