Social media is a powerful way to connect with your customers and share news about your business. While most companies are familiar with the big players in social media, many valuable sites can get overlooked. Consider these choices for enhancing your online presence.
Image via Flickr by Sheila Scarborough
LinkedIn is a popular social networking site for business professionals because the profiles focus more on your job history and knowledge than on your favorite movies and family connections. This is a great place to establish yourself as an expert in your field. Though LinkedIn is often used as a resource for job hunting, it has many other uses as well. Encourage all your employees to keep up profiles here as a way to connect with existing and future clients and showcase the experience and knowledge that your company has to draw on.
CrunchBase is an open database of technology and investment professionals. From major companies to important individuals, this site covers it all. If you’re in these industries, a presence on CrunchBase is a must. Your profile here is editable by anyone using the site, so you’ll want to check back often to make sure your information is correct, especially if you’re giving out financial information, such as annuity fundamental investments or mortgage refinancing.
Though Google+ has been unsuccessful so far at establishing itself as an alternative to the social media juggernaut of Facebook, there’s some real value in this site for businesses. When you have a Google+ profile, your business information often shows up to the right of Google search engine results in relevant searches. Having your contact information, web page, location, and other features highlighted in this coveted spot is enough to have any company rushing to G+, but there are other benefits as well.
Hangouts allow you to host 10-way video calls with loyal customers. The Google +1 feature is a quick way for people to add their endorsements to pages they find valuable. Google’s analytical tools will help you analyze all those +1’s and learn from them to build a better marketing strategy.
Meetup isn’t traditionally thought of as a business tool, but that’s part of what makes it so powerful. If you’re a small business or solo entrepreneur, Meetup is the perfect place to meet your customers. If you’re a personal trainer, consider starting a Meetup group that gets fitness enthusiasts together for a workout session once a week. Introduce new potential customers to your beautiful blown glass pieces by hosting a Meetup that includes beginning lessons in this form of art as well as group visits to art galleries.
Through these groups you’ll meet lots of people interested in just what you’re offering. You can even charge membership fees to cover your services if you can’t afford to offer them for free. Sure, all your fitness group friends may not commit to personal training sessions, but you can bet you’ll be the first person they recommend when they hear a friend is looking for a trainer.
Ning allows you to create your very own targeted social network. Users create individual profiles and interact with each other and your company. You can feature photos, videos, music, and blog posts to give your customers a closer look at what your business is about. Promote special events on the site and get conversation going in the forums.
The key to using Ning is having a creative purpose for your network. If you sell baking mixes, maybe you’ll want to create a network for bakers where they can compete in themed contests, share recipes, and get baking tips. If you’ve made a business of crafting handmade bird calls, build a Ning network for birdwatchers to share pictures and chat about the best local spots for rare avian finds.
UpSpring allows you to connect your profile with many other social media sites including Facebook and Twitter. Share seamlessly across platforms with this powerful tool. If you’re looking to keep up a presence on several social media platforms, but you have limited staff to devote to the activity, this site gives you a handy way to streamline the process.
While not all social media sites will work for every business, chances are good that there are at least a few new options you can use to grow your online presence.