Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Do’s and Don’ts of Social Networking. Part 2.

Firstly sorry this has taken so long to get up here, I have had a lot of "real life" things going on and so I haven't has as much time for article writing.

So last time we spoke about some general etiquette rules, this time let’s take a look at which websites are out there to choose from.

First things first… where do you start?! There are hundreds of networking sites out there, which are the right ones for you? Here is a list of the most popular sites with some information and pros/cons about each, we'll speak more about how to choose what's right for you at the end of the article.

Myspace-
One of the most popular and original places for social networking.
Pros:
-Large number of users
-Popular with a wide variety of age groups
-Focus on youth culture
Cons:
-Full of fake accounts and "adult content"
-Users very jaded towards marketing as they are bombarded with it every time they log on
-Many people only there for dating or to keep up to date with favorite music artists
Good for- Small businesses marketing to youth culture, clothing, music etc
Bad for- Professionals, marketing to older generations, businesses not in arts industries


Facebook-
In the last few years Facebook has taken over from MySpace as being the standard social networking website. Originally it was built for college students to connect to each other but now anyone can join and businesses can create "pages" to promote themselves and gather "fans"
Pros:
-Lots of people
-Ability to buy advertisements cheaply and easily
-Large variety of different demographics
Cons:
-Not built for advertising, built for keeping up with friends and family
-Many people don’t want to be marketed to via Facebook and consider it spam
-Must cold contact people or you can’t see their profiles.
Good for- Businesses with a fan base, charismatic people, making friends and getting to know your customers, getting customer feedback
Bad for- People just looking for a sales tool


Linkedin-
Social networking website actually aimed at businesses and business people
Pros:
-Actually made for business networking
-Good for finding other professionals
-Connect with people you’ve already worked with easily
Cons:
-Most of the people are based in America
-Not good for finding average consumers
-Harder to make contact with people you don’t know
-Setting up groups costs $
Good for- Professionals, re-connecting with old contacts, making business contacts, marketing yourself (rather than your business)
Bad for- Finding new customers unless they are business professionals


Twitter-
Social networking based on the idea that any idea can be conveyed in 160 characters or less.
Pros:
-Short messages
-Lots of people
-Ability to look on the public feed, search for posts relevant to your industry
-Easy to make connections
-As many businesses use it as people
Cons:
-Short messages can be hard to understand
-Jargon can be hard when you don’t know what it means
-Many people won't friend you if all you do is advertise
Good for- Connecting with new customers, being involved in industry discussions, keeping customers up to date with your business
Bad for- Long updates, long involved conversations


Livejournal-
Built as a website for people keep online journals/blogs. Built for personal journals not business, lately business has gotten stronger.
Pros:
-Many users
-Communities can make it easy to find like minded people or industries
-You can use html in posts to make them more attractive
-Good cross section of ages
Cons:
-Many people don’t friend users unless they personally know them and many people have “friends only” journals.
-Many people do not appreciate constant advertising here
Good for- Targeting youth culture especially fan based and other subcultures, keeping a blog on
Bad for- Professionals, making contacts quickly, broad range of user demographics


Blogger/Wordpress/Typepad etc-
Various websites where you can create and customize your own blog for personal or business use.
Pros:
-Customers can get more personal information about your business
-Connect with customers personally and answer questions or concerns
-Great way to keep up to date with other businesses
Cons:
-To be effective must be updated regularly
-Content must add value and be interesting otherwise no one will read it
-Takes time to be effective
-Not having your own domain name can look unprofessional
Good for- Adding value for your customers, educating new customers, addressing concerns
Bad for-Making an overnight difference to your sales, people without much time to update


Etsy-
Website where people can set up virtual shops, they only allow handmade items. Forums and chat rooms attached.
Pros:
-Easy for people to find you
-System to deal with non-paying buyers
-Good support system in forum and chat
-Very easy to set up a shop
Cons:
-Everyone else is selling things too
-Not having your own domain can look less professional
-Must promote yourself outside of Etsy to make it work
Good for-People who don't know how to put a shopping cart on their website, people looking for a support community, first time sellers, small businesses who make their items (clothing, craft etc)
Bad for- Businesses who don't make their items.


YouTube-
Website created for users to share videos.
Pros:
-Great for providing extra value to customers with complimentary videos for your industry
-Videos can be posted on blogs or anywhere else very easily
Cons:
-Making good videos can be a lot of work
-Must have video equipment and editing software
Good for- Bloggers wanting to jazz up their posts with video blogging, marketing people providing free information to potential customers, adding value to websites
Bad for- Businesses without access to video equipment


Specialist/niche sites (Like Essentially for Women or industry specific forums and sites)
Pros:
-Like minded people
-Support networks
-Good places for learning and information
Cons:
-Some have few members
-Everyone could be in the same industry as you rather than being your customers
Good for- Meeting like-minded people, gathering information, direct marketing as everyone is there for the same thing, finding other businesses, friendships, support groups
Bad for- Marketing to a large number or people at once, anything if you don't actually belong to the corrct demographic (ie joining a women's group if you are a man etc...)


Ok so now you're completely overwhelmed! Where do you start? To begin with, you shouldn't over reach yourself. Sit down and think about how much time you have for this, how long can you spare every day to actually sit at the computer and do this? I suggest that you start with one website and built from there. As a guide I leave around 20 minutes a day per website I'm a member of. This varies depending on how active the site is, something like Twitter I will do every day where as something slower I will spend half an hour once a week to catch up.

It truly is another form of marketing and for example if you sold children's toys you wouldn't advertise in a XXX magazine! You need to think about which sites will suit your business and how often you can update them. Just like having a website, it's better not to do it at all than to do a half-arsed job.

Next post I will be going through each of these websites individually and looking at how to make them work for you and common pitfalls people fall into. If you have any questions don't hesitate to ask!

2 comments:

  1. Thanks Violet for the info...

    Yes, it is way too easy to do a "half-arsed job" and spread yourself too thin.. :)

    Great advice and can't wait to hear the next installment.

    Kirsty

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  2. Kirsty- Exactly, social networking only works when you're consistent and regular! Glad you enjoyed the article!

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