I remember the days when all there was to social networking was Friendster . . . which evolved into a social gaming site. Then MySpace came along and stole the thunder from its predecessor by changing the way we share photos and information online.
Social networking has continued to evolve in startling ways over the years. What was once only a platform to connect with friends and colleagues has morphed into a powerful marketing tool that many businesses and entrepreneurs are scrambling to take advantage of.
With sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and StumbleUpon, we now have a host of social media marketing platforms to choose from in order to target a broad audience more effectively.
There must be hundreds of social networking and bookmarking sites out there. While most of them offer value to marketers, you’ll want to know about the most popular and widely used platforms.
Here is a short and up-to-date list of a few of the best performing and most trendy social networks that marketers and business people turned to in 2012. There can be little doubt they’ll continue to provide terrific opportunities in the coming year. I present them in no particular order of importance.
Facebook tops our list of social networks that every marketer should have a presence on. With more than a billion active users, Facebook has become the primary social media marketing platform for many companies.
A lot of experts predicted Facebook would turn out to be nothing more than a fad that would fade away just as quickly as its predecessors. But Facebook has beaten most of the predictions, even taking its place on the financial markets in 2012 (with admittedly mixed results) in an IPO.
If you haven’t done it yet, you would be wise to create a Facebook page for your business.
A couple years ago, who would have guessed that sending a message only 140 characters long would be a massive social networking hit, never mind an effective online marketing tool? Twitter pulled it off.
Over the years, Twitter has changed a lot, but it has maintained its status as a major force in the world of social media. Entertainers, politicians, religious leaders, and businesses have all taken to Twitter to make their thoughts and feelings known about various issues.
These days, Twitter lets you do more than just send messages that are 140 characters in length; now, you can share photos.
On a personal level, LinkedIn is my favorite. Not only because it enables me to connect with like-minded individuals, but more importantly, it allows me to do business with people that can be trusted.
LinkedIn may have facilitated millions of dollars worth of online commerce. And with a growing number of users and a steady rise in its stock price, LinkedIn is well positioned to help more aspiring entrepreneurs to online success in 2013.
Time and time again, Google has denied that Google+ is a social networking site. But no matter how you slice it, Google+ looks, feels, and works like a social network that very much resembles its archrival Facebook.
Google+ is one of the fastest growing social networks. Unlike its failed predecessors Google Wave and Google Buzz, Google finally seems to have got it right with Google+.
As an online entrepreneur, you will find it pays to have a presence on Google+. Because the site is owned by Google, profiles on Google+ appear to gain preference when it comes to social SEO. And, since social is becoming a huge ranking factor, you will undoubtedly perform better with a fully optimized Google+ page for your business.
YouTube is more than just a video-sharing site; it’s also become a popular social networking site. Now the world’s second largest search engine, YouTube enjoys more than two billion daily views.
You can establish a presence on YouTube by regularly uploading videos that relate to your business. There’s a huge opportunity for you to capture just a fraction of YouTube’s two billion daily sets of eyeballs. That could be a whole lot of eyeballs for your business.
Foursquare may have revolutionized location-based social networking. The fun thing about this site is that you can virtually earn points and badges as well as points to save on purchases from merchants that have signed agreements with Foursquare.
Tumblr is one of the most popular blogging platforms today. It’s home to thousands of very popular, high-traffic blogs. It’s essentially a microblogging platform like Twitter, but unlike Twitter, Tumblr concentrates more on allowing users to share images.
And like most blogging platforms, Tumblr lets you follow and get followed, which enables users to foster their network of audience members for their business. If you are hoping to gain large amounts of new followers, Tumblr is a smart social networking site for you to become active on.
Reddit is one of the pioneers of modern social bookmarking. It’s home to a closely knit community of people who post nothing but the best of the web. What’s great about Reddit is that if your post ends up on the first page of the topic you’re interested in, you’re guaranteed to get a deluge of traffic that keeps growing without your having to do any further promotion.
Pinterest is the rising star of the social media universe. It got off to a great start, thanks mostly to its extremely innovative way of allowing users to showcase their interests with images. Its interface and its overall appeal are a welcome change from the nearly identical online faces of other social media.
Now, even huge corporations are taking advantage of Pinterest as a marketing tool that really gets the job done for them.
StumbleUpon is a favorite of mine. It’s actually one of the first social bookmarking sites I’ve used. I discovered it and signed on in 2008. With its companion app Su.pr, StumbleUpon has become a staple of all my marketing activities. After I started using the StumbleUpon and Su.pr combo, in a very short time, traffic to my blog posts exploded in ways I never thought would be possible.
For those of you who are always glued to your TV or computer for entertainment, there’s GetGlue. GetGlue is the Foursquare of the entertainment industry. It lets users check in to entertainment events so their friends will know what’s up within their network.
The list of social networking sites above is by no means exhaustive. There are plenty of others worth mentioning, such as Instagram and other social gaming sites, but the ones I’ve described here will do wonders for your professional, entrepreneurial fortunes online.