As a PR Consultant, I’m often asked what the difference is between the numerous online social media opportunities. The key to choosing where you should have a presence online lies in the basics of who you want to target and where they are looking for information about your business. In a nutshell, here are a few pointers which may help you when deciding on which option you should be going for. Many are now interlinked, ensuring if you have a presence on one site, you can have it on another.

 

Facebook

This social network site is probably the most popular with more users than similar sites such as bebo. It initially was set up to allow users to send messages and share photos, but as it’s developed, it’s becoming a good marketing tool for the business community. As you can form groups, it is suitable for some business models, particularly if you want to promote events and highlight campaigns through viral messages. Facebook also has a Twitter application (see below) so you can link your ‘tweats’ to your Facebook group. Word of warning though, there are a lot of time wasting applications on Facebook so be focused when you use it!

 

Flickr

Developed initially as a way of sharing photos online, Flickr has rapidly grown into different communities who primarily share a taste in photo subjects. Take a look at the ‘groups’ section as there are ways of promoting your business or event to a wider audience.

 

LinkedIn

This is one of the world’s leading business networking sites, where you can track down people, join business groups and generally have a nosey on what other businesses are doing. You can recommend people and are regularly updated on what people in your network are doing. Good for potentially finding old business contacts, making new ones and getting advice from other members via business groups.

 

MySpace

Aimed primarily at the youth market, it has a strong focus on music. Worth exploring if this is where your market hangs out.

 

Twitter

By far the fastest growing social site, Twitter evolved from a basic text messaging service to a networking opportunity delivering real-time information. ‘Tweats’ are restricted to 140 characters for you to have your say. Initially popular with younger people, it’s grown into an amazing phenomenon where even some of the world’s biggest news stories were first broken. It works for some, such as celebrities but time will tell whether it’s a passing fad or running it is time well spent. As an aside, I had heard the developers of the site have yet to work out how to make decent money out of operating it!

 

Wordpress.com

If you’re into blogging, (basically an online diary, allowing you to write what you’re doing, observing or give your point of view), this is one of the better free blogging software available. You can create your own blog hosted by wordpress.org, or install the software onto your own web domain. The varying content on your blog can also drive traffic to your business website via Google searches. A big word of warning, be very careful about what you blog about. Remember, you’re writing on the world’s largest graffiti board and there have been some high profile litigation cases.

 

YouTube

Although this is primarily a film channel, it can be used for businesses, particularly if you’ve got an unusual or funny promotional film about your business or event.

 

 

Now the biggest problem is once we’ve spent time updating our status on facebook and linkedin, sent out our tweats, written our blog and read everyone else’s status, tweats and blogs, checked out the opposition on YouTube and Flickr, listened to some music on MySpace, is there actually any time left in the day to do some work?

 

Author: Annie Waddington-Feather, Freelance Writer and Communications Consultant

 

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