One of the most frequently asked questions that we get from the students of our courses is, “What social sites are the most important to social media success?” It is certainly a valid question. Who wouldn’t want to know if there is a mix of social media platforms that can always be counted on to generate a successful social media campaign? The truth is, the right mix of social sites is never usually the same for any two organizations, and often may not be the same for any two campaigns. That fact puts this article up for debate as to whether the sites we mention can be counted on for any business to utilize in their effort to establish a high profile online presence.
I will not contend that there are not additional sites that are applicable to this discussion, and I encourage anyone who reads this article to contribute their own thoughts on what social sites you feel are important. That being said, we have ten sites listed below that have come up time and time again during our discussions with social media subject matter experts, consultants, and instructors that merit consideration.
Here’s how they describe themselves, “Social Media Today is an independent, online community for professionals in PR, marketing, advertising, or any other discipline where a thorough understanding of social media is mission-critical.” This website is a one-stop shop for all things social media, including tools, strategies and trends that are important to your business. What we love in particular about this site, is that they provide a great deal of information about social media strategy, that many other sites lack. If you are looking to do it yourself, or are just getting started in the social media industry this site will help you get up and running quickly.
Some organizations think that social media is not for them because they only sell to other businesses – here’s our solution, “SocialMediaB2B’s goal is to become the foremost news and discussion site on the topic social media’s impact on B2B companies, help drive social media adoption within B2B companies, and become a repository for advice and commentary from experts in the social media and B2B industries.” Whether you consider your organizaiton a B2B or B2C, this site provides business solutions that are practical for any business. The authors are both social media strategists with real-world experience, and have successfully used the methodologies they write about in their own businesses.
One billion users, 500 million of which sign in every day. Yeah, it would be a tough to say that including Facebook in your social media strategy would not be a good idea. Business pages on Facebook provide a great way for customers to connect with your organization, and a great way for you to position yourself in front of a highly targeted audience.
Twitter allows its users to instantly connect with what’s important to them. You can follow your friends or coworkers, experts in your field, and catch the latest breaking news. For your business, Twitter can be a great way to build a following of potential clients and customers, and can increase traffic to your website through thoughtful, inspiring and/or entertaining posts.
Linkedin allows you to manage your professional identity on a platform that caters to professionals. You can build and engage with your professional network, and learn more about their interests, while also building knowledge, insights and opportunities about your industry. Your business can also establish its own company profile and share the products or services that you offer with a following of like-minded professionals. With nearly 200 million active members, it is hard to ignore this platform as a key part of a social media strategy.
Google+ is the culmination of Google’s work to become more involved in the social media industry. It aims to make sharing on the web more like sharing in real life. You are able to segment your friends into “Circles” and easily control which circles see the content you share. This platform is a unique, well-designed technology that is quickly gaining traction, especially because of some of the unique features that it offers such as “Hangouts” where up to 10 people can meet for free in a video chat room. Google is also beginning to integrate your likes, interests and other information from your Google+ account into its search results, which could have major implications for any organization interested in being found online.
The HootSuite social media management platform is an extremely useful tool for managing a social media presence. It aggregates your social networks into one easy to find account, and post your content to each of the platforms quickly. It also allows you to monitor conversations that are taking place on you social media accounts to ensure that you don’t miss any valuable information, or questions that might arise about your business. It is certainly not the only social media management platform on the market, but it is certainly one of the most popular for a reason.
In social media, content is king. If you want to establish yourself online you need valuable content for others to consume. This can be a challenging process because at times it can seem as if there is a never-ending stream of content coming from all directions; how will your content be seen? Keyword analysis is the answer. Search terms on Google can be very competitive to be ranked for, but with research you can find that certain key words or phrases are much easier to be found for, and will help you to begin to position yourself to your audience. This strategy cannot be overlooked in your business, and this tool is an great way to accomplish the research that is needed.
BONUS: Google Alerts – Get customized keyword reports emailed directly to you with all of the latest posts online about you targeted key words.
Creating reports to show return on investment on your social media activities is one of the most important concepts that we teach in our Social Media Strategist certification prep courses. One of the data sources that can be used for these reports is Google Analytics. It can show exactly how much traffic is being directed from you social media sites, and along with conversion data from your website contact forms, or product shopping carts you can quantify in real terms how much business is being generated from your social media presence.
From time to time its good to get away from the computer, and network in the real world. Social Media Club is the largest association of social media professionals in the world, and offers opportunities to network and connect with other social media professionals. Their website is a great place to learn, and grow along with other peers in the social media industry.
BONUS: Social Media Breakfast – Another national social media networking group who has a very large and active membership across the US.
What do you think? Are we missing any social sites that might be important to a social media strategy?