If you are just getting your feet wet with social media marketing, if you don’t have all day or a fully staffed Internet marketing department, or if you’re simply the kind of business owner who doesn’t like wasting time or money, then you might be wondering which social media sites you actually have to pay attention to. Since that includes just about 99.5% of us, we’ll assume it’s a question that’s crossed your mind.
After all, it only makes sense to pay attention to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. With tens of millions of registered users each, they are outshone only by the major search engines like Google in terms of their power to help you reach new customers. But after that, things get a little murky.
Social media is an evolving field. New players are popping up and disappearing all the time. Some sites, like MySpace, have gone to the forefront only to fade back and be less important; others like Four Square are attracting smaller crowds, but seem poised to explode in the near future, either because of their mobile functionality (in the case of Four Square) or because they have major brands behind them (in Google’s case). And that’s to say nothing of the dozens of industry-specific sites that are taking shape.
So what’s the answer? The best strategy, for lots of small and medium-sized businesses, is to try a bit of “focused dabbling.” In other words, spend a little bit of time each week setting up new profiles, trying out new platforms, and especially seeing what your customers and colleagues are responding to. You don’t want to waste endless amounts of time on sites that offer little potential for your company, but neither do you want to fall behind and miss the latest trend.
Social Media is Always Evolving
About the only thing you can say with any certainty about social networking is that five years from now it will probably look a lot different than it does today, and be at least as important to online marketers. So rather than worrying about what those changes will be, just keep your ear to the ground, try a few things out, and be ready when your customers seem to be looking at a new direction.