Which Social Networking Website Should I Join?

If you visit webmaster forums one of the more common questions when it comes to social networking, social media and social bookmarking is “Which social network (social bookmarking, social media) site should I join”. The short answer: The one where your target market is. (smiles)

Social media campaign diagram
Credit: Laurel Papworth and Gary Hayes

Entering into the online social environment isn’t any different than networking offline. Just like offline, if your purpose of online networking is to create connections to eventually expand your business connections then you have to be where your target market is. Social networking can take a lot of time if you want to be successful at it so you need to be selective about where you are going to be or it will gobble up your whole day resulting in no actual money making work being done.

Planning Your Social Networking Strategy

Keeping in mind what the name social networking (i.e. you are supposed to be social, not just selling) means, coming up with a productive social networking strategy is important.

  • Know Your Target Audience

    As with any marketing campaign, knowing your target audience is the key to success. Most of the time when someone asks on forums “Which social network is the best?” or “Which social network is right for me?” there are the standard answers of:

    Yes these are popular social networking sites but so are YouTube and Digg in some circles. It all depends on where your target audience is on the net. You might have better success using a niche social networking site than one of the more popular and busy busier social networks.

    Ask yourself these questions about your target audience:

    • What social networks, social bookmarking and social media sites are your target audience using?
    • Where on the internet are they? Maybe social networking isn’t where you need to be. Do they like forums or traditional email groups better? Do they even know and understand social networking?
    • Where are your competitors on the internet? Are there too many of them in one location? Can you find an untapped place where your target audience is but lacking your competitors?
  • Research

    There are lots of things to learn about when venturing into online social networking so spend some time researching what types of social networking, social bookmarking and social media are available. You need to understand how each works to use them to their full potential.

  • Experiment

    You won’t learn what works and what doesn’t work for your target market if you don’t experiment with the different ideas you see on the net.

  • Set Goals for Your Social Networking

    You will not know if your online social networking is working unless you set some goals. Perhaps it is to meet 3 new people a day or find the right crowd to socialize with within a month. Maybe you have a longer term goal of increasing your website or blog visits by 25% within 6 months. What ever the ultimate purpose of using social networking is (not forgetting the social part) you need some milestones to shoot for just like any other marketing or business plan.

With this information in hand, you can come up with a better plan of attack. Your plan can be adjusted if you find it is not working but don’t give up too soon. It takes time to build up relationships (as in offline networking) so don’t expect super results right off the bat.

Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin

There are thousands of social networking sites available to join. Select a few so your time is spread effectively on each of those you chose to use. Networking takes time and devotion. Signing up for a social network and then not putting in the time to build relationships isn’t going to work.

Prune your message and your list and build a reputation that’s worth owning and an audience that cares.

Only one of these strategies builds an asset of value

The trap of social media noise – Seth Godin

Make Real Connections

You will see offers of selling bookmarking services, Facebook fans and/or Twitter followers. Even offers to set you up on hundreds of social networking sites or forums. These are not real connections. How can you communicate with and build a relationship with these people who may or may not be in your target audience? Real connections come when you personally participate in the community and exchange with the members of that community. It might take you a while to build your network of connections but they will be people who truly are interested in what you have to say, your knowledge and what you can offer (as in being an expert in your field). Thousands of connections does not equate to immediate growth of your business.

Create an Consistent Appearance Across Social Networks

Whether you decide to brand yourself or your company, having an consistent logo, avatar or picture across each of the networks you belong to will make you a familiar face if people see you in their own collection of social networking memberships.

Learn how you can personalize each of your profiles at the sites you join. Some may have limited options but others will let you really brand your profile.

Social networking isn’t just signing up for every popular networking site. It requires time devoted in the right social networks for you, your busines and your goals. Maybe joining a social network that is not related to your business/work is the ticket to making a whole new bunch of friends that can later turn into business connections.

Further Reading on Which Social Networking Site to Join

Social Media Marketing 2015: Where Is Your Audience?

How to Identify an Online Community for Your Business

A social network should not replace business website services and functionalities. Instead, it should be an extension, a complement and perhaps an enticement to visit the business website in the first place.

Read more: How to Choose the Best Social Network for Your Business

Why you should NOT make too many Social Media profiles

Social Connections: It’s Not Who You Know, But Where You Go

Social Media Burn Out and Why You Shouldn’t Try to Do it All

I Don’t Have Time For This Social Media Thing!

How to become more effective with your social media efforts

Beyond Facebook: 5 Questions to Ask Before Jumping into a New Social Network

5 Things You Need To Know BEFORE Designing Your Social Media Strategy

What Do You Want From Social Media?

What Social Network Is Your Target Demographic Using?

Introduction: How to Create a Social Media Plan

Facebook Isn’t the Right Fit for Every Business

8 Questions to Evaluate if That New Social Network is Worth Your Company’s Time

This post was created as part of the V7N Blogging Challenge with a Twist

V7N Blog Challenge Official Participant

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20 Responses to Which Social Networking Website Should I Join?

  1. HART (1-800-HART) Says:

    Does “MySpace” still count?? Haven’t been there for years!

    I don’t do any LinkedIn SMM but people seem to find me there, and I accept their network request. I probably should check it out one day.

  2. Web Page Mistakes Says:

    MySpace is still included in the replies when someone asks on a forum but it seems to be on it’s last legs:

    Then in January 2011, as Facebook was negotiating a half-billion-dollar investment from Goldman Sachs, MySpace announced that it was preparing to fire nearly half its staff. The layoffs will cut nearly 500 employees from a payroll of close to 1,100. The downsizing is the most draconian yet for the beleaguered company, and could be a precursor to a sale of the site by the News Corporation.

    More broadly, the decline of MySpace is a tale with echoes of the ill-fated pact AOL made with Time Warner: a highflying Internet venture caught in a culture clash precipitated by joining a big media conglomerate. Then a competitor arrives on the scene with better technology.

    Now the News Corporation is considering selling the site entirely, putting the capstone on the legacy of a deal that never quite worked out.

    New York Times MySpace.com page – Jan. 12, 2011 update

  3. Web Design Cairns Says:

    Hello, back again to read your fantastic blog (read it all people, it’s good stuff!).

    One should bare in mind that social media’s come and go. I read somewhere Google is releasing a new one called Circle around 2Q 2011. I don’t hear much about buzz any more and where do all the old face book, twitter posts go?

    I see it as a short term immediate investment. For that reason I question it’s ROI for many industries even though I have seen it work for people like open source CMS software developers. Do you guy’s disagree?

  4. Web Page Mistakes Says:

    Yes social networking and social bookmarking sites come and go. e.g. MyBloglog is being closed by Yahoo!

    Just remember not to put all your eggs in one basket. Diversify so if one closes you don’t have to start all over again.

  5. Magssno Says:

    I’ve tried Facebook and Twitter and kinda got fed up because I seemed to put in a lot of work with little results to show for it.

    Now that I have read your post maybe I was in the wrong place for my target audience.

    I might try again!

  6. Homer Says:

    The paragraph about spreading yourself too thin is probably the most important thing to consider. in my opinion. Somebody told me to use social networking and I wa completely overwhelmed thinking I had to use every single one of them.

  7. Web Page Mistakes Says:

    Yes we see lots of people trying to be on every single social network there is thus not doing a good job of being social with everyone they could be if they limited themselves to a few and only those where their target audience is (or at least a potential to build relationships that could one day turn into a business relationship or referral).

  8. Prefab Garages Says:

    I have tried doing business in Facebook. It works well for the site. I have more than 1,000 friends and some of their friends have been my faithful customers. It is good to really consider first your market and the appropriate marketing strategy you will need to employ. As for me, I ask my friends who are my customers, to help me spread the word (about my business) by posting their reviews on my products. That gets the attention of prospects who are not within my friends list.

  9. SCA Promotions Says:

    I have tried to use Facebook and Twitter to promote my business, and it did seem like a lot of work for not a lot of results. I like this article, because it helps me to narrow my focus and better target my audience and effectively use my social media time.

  10. Robert Voltaire Says:

    I would definitely suggest a combination of twitter, facebook and a wordpress blog. They can be all linked together to promote your site or business. I use these for my fashion photography site and get tons of traffic.

  11. Web Page Mistakes Says:

    That combination may bring traffic to your site but is it targetted traffic that is converting to orders?

  12. Harry Potter DVDs Says:

    I wanted to stop back and thank you for this guide you wrote. I used some of your guidelines, and I have to say my social campaign has been much better than any I’ve tried to run before. I also appreciate your points about sites disappearing–look what happened to myspace!

  13. Richard La Ruina Says:

    I agree don’t spread your self to thin but stick with at least facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Most of these when you post on Facebook it post to twitter to so those that prefer Twitter to Facebook can still follow you. There so many tools out there that make it so easy to manage multiple social media platforms.

  14. Web Page Mistakes Says:

    Re: autoposting to other social networking sites

    Don’t you think that the people who follow you on all your networking sites would get bored seeing the same messages/updates on every single network they follow you on?

    I try and post different stuff on different networks so those who follow in multiple locations don’t get bored myself.

  15. Shawn Rondeau Says:

    Depends what you’re into. If you’re into sports, celebrities. I’d suggest Twitter. Facebook is awesome for friends, so you might have to just juggle a few lol. I mean, lots of networks are out there and some are great for specific things. There’s even this new one I’m hooked on , but it’s more for questions, and it’s pretty new – so it’s not as many users as the others. 🙂

  16. Katie Kowalsky Says:

    Autoposting is a bit excesssive, but I use it mildly for Twitter. Beware of looking like spam to your consumers!

Which Social Networking Website Should I Join? Was Mentioned Here:

  1. Which social networking sites is most important for traffic?
  2. Twitter, FB or both?
  3. Better Usability Through Consistent Design
  4. For newbie which is best - Social Bookmarking, Google+, Facebook, Twitter ? Why ?

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