For a long time, we, at Oranges and Lime, have been meeting many of our clients through personal networks, actual (as in off-line) business events, business breakfasts, referrals and the like. The reason for this was that most small business owners were not yet active online. We found them to be technological laggards, meaning it was taking them some time to adapt and accept new technologies.
Times are changing however. Now, we are finding that many business owners have a Facebook account and they are browsing the Internet more to research the types of services we are offering. As Social Media Networks becomes more ubiquitous, because more people are using them, they are becoming a crucial element to any business’ marketing mix.
Here is a list of Social Media Networks or websites to promote your business, engage with your audience, with others in your industry and meet potential customers. We will sort them according to our preference. So if you only have time to target one social network, go for the first one. If you have time for two, target the first two and so on. Obviously, some networks might be more suited to your type of business and others may not. We will soon add the positives and negatives with each of these. We are continually updating this post and we use a lot more websites and social media tools, so bookmark this page and come back again for the latest updates!
Twitter is built for quick announcements. From a Business Standpoint, that makes it a great tool to quickly update and share with your audience. Twitter is well embedded in many online tools, websites and mobile apps.
2. Google Plus
We like Google Plus for its use for Circles. You can organise people in Circles and choose to share what you want to with those circles. We find the use of Circles a lot easier with Google Plus more efficient than the way Pages work on Facebook. There’s a few more about Google Plus that makes it a very good Business Platform. Having started Google Plus earlier when they challenged Facebook’s social networking supremacy, I can say, Facebook has copied a lot of the features they came up with.
Quora is a website where users ask each other questions. It has a wide range of topics. I had a Quora account for a while. However, it’s only been recently that I have been engaging with other users there. I answered a few questions, less then ten, from other users asking me questions about business, starting up, entrepreneurship, web design and web development as well as science and religion. Within about a week, 3000 people have read my answers! I saw Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia answering questions there as well as Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress and others. I remember seeing an Ashton Kutcher replying to a question.
The amount of clutter like irrelevant sarcasm, verbal ‘swipes’ and arguments are minimised. People seem to get straight to the point with this format. There are really thought-provoking questions there that start off interesting conversations, I find.
Follow me in Quora: http://www.quora.com/Marquez-Comelab
4. Stumble Upon
In our opinion, Stumble Upon is an under-rated power-house when it comes driving traffic to a website if done right.
Follow us in Stumble Upon: http://www.stumbleupon.com/stumbler/orangesandlime
Blogger is free. It’s good for SEO reasons because since Google owns it, we can only suppose that Google index every page of it for advertising purposes. Like I said, however, it has its limits for a serious blogger who might eventually want to customise their blogs or might want to do more than just blogging.
As good as Blogger is for anybody starting out, we do not use it ourselves. I personally still have an old blog kept there for archiving reasons but t’s been a while since we used Blogger because for our professional purpose. As web developers ourselves we are used to having full control to our blogs and websites and so we came across limitations with Blogger pretty quickly. This is not a statement against Blogger because all the tools on this page would fall in the same category. The difference with blogging is that it is a big part of your business and website and its SEO. I, as a business owner would want it to be stored on a server in which I have control, and that I can modify it whenever and however I want. Secondly, I want my blog to be accessible from my company’s domain name. It looks a bit awkward for visitors to be browsing your website, click on your blog then all of a sudden find themselves in a slightly different looking website with a different domain name. It gives it that disjointed experience.
The main blog of choice for professional use is WordPress. Contact us, if you want us to discuss what is involved with building a WordPress blog for you, your business or your organisation.
If you think micro-blogging is for you, try Tumblr. Topics are easy to find and the quality and context of writing is niched, personal and very casual type of writing. Keep the Safe Search setting option however if you do not want inappropriate search results to come up. We found it works great for promoting products using lots of photos of products. We’ll add Instagram Pinterest later but they’re good platforms for posts with appealing images.
Similar to Blogger, I would not use it as my main Blogging platform to represent my company’s official blog. It is a good tool to engage people who are already in Tumblr.
Contact us, if you want us to discuss what is involved with building a professional blog for you, your business or your organisation.
With Facebook, you create a Business Page for your Business. Depending on your personal Facebook network and the type of business you’re in, Facebook Business Pages might work for you. If you have a business selling directly to consumers, then that’s when your personal network — your friends and family — can really help you out. If you are however in Business to Business, like us, we find other channels more effective.
If you want to use Facebook, expect to pay advertising dollars before you can grow your audience, especially if you are in a niche that is not really popular to your personal contacts. In such cases, we would recommend using Google Plus, Twitter and Stumble Upon and others. If you are willing to put in the time to be active in those other networks, you will find it easier to bring traffic to your website.
If you are like us and are not planning to be as active on Facebook as you would be in other marketing activities, we would still recommend you have a Facebook Page for your business, and post when you can. The ‘SEO Juice’ is worth it and rightly or not, people usually expect businesses to have a Facebook page.
Which Social Media Networks do you use for your business? Are they working for you? Why do you think that is? Send us your answers so we can share your ideas too.