Handy beginners’ guide to Social Media tools to promote your business.
Social Media is the term used to describe the 2nd generation of websites (or Web 2.0) which enable greater interaction with their users. Traditional websites required passive consumption of information by the reader in a top-down approach, while the new wave of Social Media sites encourage the reader to contribute their own content and ideas.
Examples of popular Social Media that can be useful for business include;
Twitter is a micro-blogging tool which enables users to post 140 character messages online about themselves and their business. By searching for topics that interest you and are relevant to your business you can quickly build up a network of people to ‘Follow’ and recruit your own tribe of ‘Followers’. Individual posts or ‘Tweets’ can be posted online via the website or sent as an SMS text message from your mobile phone. Unlike normal text messages or emails, a single Tweet not only appears on your own profile page, but on those belonging to each of your Followers, making it a highly effective tool for spreading the world quickly about your latest news and ideas.
For help getting started, check out Twitter’s own ‘Twitter for Business website‘ or Follow Me @plandigitaluk and @lordlancaster.
With over 200 million users worldwide in 2009 (70% outside of the US), Facebook is one of the biggest social media success stories of recent years. Originally a way for college students to stay in touch with their friends, Facebook has since evolved into an easy and user-friendly way for individuals, businesses and groups of like-minded people to communicate with people around the world. With so many people using Facebook on a day to day basis it’s worthwhile having some kind of presence for your business on there, and it can be another useful way to market and launch a new product or service.
To start a Facebook Page where people can ‘Become a Fan’ of your business, comment on your products or services, interact with you and share content with their friends visit: www.facebook.com/advertising/?pages
To see how this works, take a look at the Shell LiveWIRE Facebook Page.
Shell LiveWIRE Social Network
A bit like Facebook for business, the Shell LiveWIRE Social Network is a great way to promote yourself and your business and should be seen as your ‘shop window to the world’. All users are provided with a free profile in which they can add photos, videos, classified ads, events diary and blog, providing the perfect place to network and do business with other Shell LiveWIRE members.
The Shell LiveWIRE Social Network is extremely well indexed by all the major search engines so regularly posting something on your blog will ensure high rankings in search results. (See our ‘Top Tips on using the Shell LiveWIRE Social Network‘).
The moving image is one of the most powerful ways to get your message across to people quickly. Businesses can use YouTube to post individual videos about their product or service, or create their own YouTube Channel containing a collection of videos related to what they do. Even with a basic video camera or mobile phone and a little bit of imagination, videos can quickly become viral and there are numerous examples of people who have had their clips viewed by over 50million users! Even if just a small number of people view your videos, YouTube is a useful and compelling medium for marketing and promoting your business that should not be ignored.
Boasting over 41 millions users worldwide, LinkedIn is a useful place for business professionals to host an online CV which can be used to find work or networking opportunities with other users. See my LinkedIn Public Profile at: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/lordlancaster
If your business is in the creative industries, particularly music, art and fashion, then MySpace is somewhere that you should definitely maintain a presence as it’s a great way to highlight your latest news and releases and reach out direct to your target audience. The Arctic Monkeys, Lily Allen and Little Boots famously built up huge armies of devoted fans through MySpace before signing their first record deals and so it has become an essential place for new businesses, record labels and artists to break new markets.
With a target audience of 13-19yr olds (mostly teenage girls), Bebo obviously isn’t for everyone. However, if your business provides products or services for this particular demographic then it’s the perfect place to get yourself known.
With over 1.3 million Ning social networks created and more than 30 million registered members around the world, Ning ‘enables artists, brands and organizations to simplify and control their online presence with their own unique Ning Network that integrates with other social media services while providing a direct relationship with fans, consumers and members.’ Take a look at my wife’s Ning network ‘Baby Friendly North East’ at: http://babyfriendlynortheast.ning.com
Flickr describes itself as ‘the best online photo management and sharing application in the world’ and provides an easy to use online system for uploading and sharing your pictures with anyone you like. Businesses can use Flickr to share photos of events or products they have available to buy which can be linked to from their emails, website, blogs or any other Social Media.
Blogs (an abbreviation of the word ‘weblog’) are a type of website that allow an individual or business to write a running commentary or diary of their activities which can be made available for anyone to see. Blogs can be purely text-based, but really come to life when enriched with other Social Media tools like YouTube videos, Twitter feeds, photos, audio and links to other external sites of interest.
There are a number of free blogging tools available, including WordPress and Blogger which provide users with a simple way to establish an online presence without having to pay for a website, and all Shell LiveWIRE members are provided with a free blog in their Social Network profile. Meanwhile, Technorati was founded as the worlds first blog search engine and has since evolved into a content provider for blogs around the world.