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Social Media Tip: The best social networking sites for businesses

In today's 'do or die' social media environment, businesses worldwide are slowly expanding into the social media world. The exposure a company receives from embracing social media is massive; it essentially allows for global marketing at a fraction of the cost. All businesses, whether they're small or large, need to get in the game. Be that as it may, the rapid growth of the virtual world has left many feeling confused and left behind. It's all about strategy; which platforms are best and how you should go about generating your online content. Still, there are some networking sites out there that are a staple for all businesses. So which ones should you pick?

Generating a page or profile on the following social media platforms is the first key step to establishing your social media presence. Once you have mastered your accounts on the staple websites, you can look to expanding into other niche platforms for your target audience.

1. Facebook

The first option is also the most obvious. Having recently celebrated their 10th birthday, Facebook dominates the social media stage, and they are important to include in your virtual repertoire. What's more, recent statistics show that Facebook has expanded into the mature demographic of users, meaning that everyone from 11 year-olds to your granny are on it. This is important, as it means you are more likely to access a wider age range through your user interaction.

Facebook hosts networks; these are divided by workplace, school, university, city and/or region. On top of friend-to-friend interaction, Facebook also provides a business page, allowing businesses to promote company products and events to its network of 'fans'.

An added benefit of using this site is that when fans 'like' your page or 'post' on your page, their friends will be able to see this. This increases exposure and drives traffic to your page.

2. Twitter

Facebook's partner-in-crime of social domination, Twitter is the second must-have for your business. The platform revolves around followers, tweets and hashtags, and successfully using these can increase your social reach by miles. You choose who you want to follow, in the hope that this will increase your own followers.

Twitter is a great platform for connecting with the right people within your industry. It's important to stay interactive on the site, and don't just become a passive user. Leading conversations will boost your exposure and inevitably drive traffic to your profile and website.

Twitter also has an Analytics feature, which enables you to monitor your Twitter performance and improve your presence on the platform.

3. LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the business networking site, and is a key part of any company's networking sites. Users can amass a list of contact details of people they know and trust in their industry. This can subsequently be used to build up business connections. This site is the one you use if you want to hire new recruits, partners, company descriptions or research potential employees.

It is not so important to maintain a daily presence on LinkedIn, but you should keep on top of posts and remain interactive. It is not an informal site, and should be kept as professional as you require your business to be. Think of the site as an online resume, where paid users can view who is viewing their page. It is definitely not the place for social stalking.

4. Google+

Google+ is almost like a cross between Facebook and LinkedIn. Not quite so professional as LinkedIn, yet more formal than Facebook. This site is all about keywords and search engine optimisation, and you should make sure you interact on a daily basis. Hashtags feature largely on this platform, so you should try and integrate them in your posts whenever possible.

Google+ is all about exploring interests and topics outside of the friend and family sphere. If you have a particular product, it's a useful place to gain more exposure for it. They have a lot of communities and hangouts, lending a casual edge to your business profile. The major advantage of using Google+ is that, obviously, they are part of the Google enterprise. This means they all your activity can be indexed by the Google search machine, which will boost the SEO and rankings of your website.

5. YouTube

There are two huge advantages of generating a YouTube presence. Firstly, it is the ultimate site for visual content, the big thing of social media this year. Secondly, it is part of Google, which means that YouTube videos are a prominent part of Google searches.

You can post any ads, explanations or expertise on the site, although you should be careful to keep it short and relevant. Make sure that in any descriptions or comments you direct users to your main website.

6. Instagram

Instagram is another visuals platform, and was bought by Facebook back in 2012. You can share images and short videos, and make sure you interact regularly on the site. It is a relatively casual platform, and brands should be careful to not overdo it on the adverts and promotions.

You can include hashtags, and links to other platforms to make your content more shareable. It is the perfect place to humanise your business, and give customers an insight to the daily workings of your company. At most, you should think of Instagram as a stepping stone between your user and your other networking sites.

7. Pinterest

Pinterest is all about sharing visual content within categories, and allows users to pin content on 'Pinterest Boards'. It is a great place to share content, and with carefully chosen keywords you can really boost your social reach

The platform favours recent posts, so it is important to interact on the website regularly. Users can access your website directly by clicking on your pin, which increases traffic to your website. It is an easy way to encourage your customers to interact with your brand, so long as you include a pin badge on your site.

8. Yelp / Foursquare

These sites are for location-based business searches and reviews. It is important to monitor your presence on these sites, as this is the most convenient place for your customers to post reviews on your business.

Yelp is an ideal place to deal with customer feedback; should you have negative comments, it is the perfect place to deal with them appropriately. This can really boost your online reputation if done well. The good thing about the platform is that it features largely on Google searches, which can drive traffic to your website.

Foursquare is a location 'check-in' service that lets customers tell their virtual world that they are at your business. It is a great place to drive both locals and tourists to your business, and hand-in-hand with Yelp can drive business and boost your online reputation. This site is all about word-of-mouth marketing, so interacting with customers and offering promotions is a good way to keep your fan base happy.

Charlotte is a trainee journalist, who loves writing about anything and everything. Currently an intern at Social Media Frontiers, you can follow her @charlotteatsmf and @CharlotteR_4

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Social Media Tip: The best social networking sites for businesses Reviewed by Anonymous on Friday, March 07, 2014 Rating: 5
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