Saturday, January 15, 2011

Name the Big Three Social Networks for Business

With the advent of social networking sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, Internet usage has totally morphed, from a serious business medium, to a social and fun medium that still means business. Regular people now build business applications with “mashup” technology, rather than hiring programmers.

I’m a technology follower from the early days of the Internet, so a couple of years ago I decided to dive into this new world and check it out (who even heard of blogging or mashups ten years ago). I realized quickly that this new world isn’t just for the social life of Gen-Y – it is a sea change for everyone in business, especially startups.

After any earthquake event, the first thing I try to do is to step back, get the lay of the land, and derive some guidelines for getting around efficiently, while avoiding personal injury (I spent some years in California). Here are the current big three in social networking for business:

  1. Facebook is biggest, moving from social to business. Currently, the biggest site in numbers is Facebook with over 500 million active users. 50% of active users log on to Facebook in any given day. Their primary visitors in the past have been Gen-Y socializers, but the fastest growing segment now is business people, and discussion groups for business, like “Facebook for Business” with 56,250 members.

  2. LinkedIn caters to senior business professionals. The largest site traditionally targeted at business people is LinkedIn, with current numbers exceeding 80 million members. This one is a “must” for every serious business professional and executive out there today. You can join groups with your specific interests, participate in discussions or not, and highlight your business.

  3. Twitter for business and networking is ‘hot’. This site is for text-messaging on the Internet, with about 100 million unique visitors per month, and was first popular for social updates and gossip. Now it’s the source of business leads and networking for thousands of people, and the source of the breaking world news for everyone. You need to be there.

Obviously, there are many others that you should evaluation, based on your geographic location, type of business, and personal interests. Here is my perspective on a few of them:

  • MySpace is for tweens, forget it. The third biggest site (just passed by Twitter) is MySpace, with about 95 million unique visitors per month. They have groups for business and entrepreneurs, but the culture is primarily teen and pre-teen. You will find business advertising there, but minimal business networking.
  • It’s not all about numbers. There are many more social networks which have good traction and a more specialized focus in the business networking world. Examples include Ryze, Plaxo, Orkut, RedWire, and Ecademy. In general, their membership is focused by geography, industry, or culture, so the value can be excellent.
  • Business networking today starts with social networks. Social networking sites are more effective and efficient than attending all those boring business cocktail mixers and conventions. I’ll even be so bold as to say that if you aren’t on any of these sites, you are way behind the curve in business networking today.
  • Protocols for each site are different. There is a hierarchy and a culture to social networking sites on the Internet, just like there always has been with professional business organizations and clubs. There are so many sites, so you need to choose wisely, and learn the rules for each. Most are free, so you can do serious business networking around the world without signing up for any of the fee services.

Maybe because the cost of entry is low, I see a swarm of startups today busy with add-ons, and building new offerings. It’s a brave new world, for me an exciting challenge and fun to explore. But like every good explorer, I’m asking everyone I meet what’s around the next corner. Are you there today, and what do you predict for tomorrow?

Marty Zwilling


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25 comments:

  1. Nice writeup Martin.
    It would be great if you can throw some light on Dos and Don'ts to be followed while using these networking sites for business.

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  2. Ecademy is a great place for business networking. it's more focused and local leads groups work very well.
    I don't know how Ryze is doing, as it's months I didn't visit.
    there are traditional leads groups like BNI

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  3. Terrific advice! I am just beginning my foray into social media networking. So far I am developing my account on twitter and linkedin but I have not started on facebook. I can definitely see why you say two of those sites are "where its at" for modern business networking and business generation.

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  4. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with some pics to drive the message home a bit, but other than that, this is great blog. A great read. Ill definitely be back.
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  5. Hi Martin,

    I am a regular reader of your posts. And i work as a virtual assistant. We do it for a small business owner and i am sure that all will agree that if we want to get good business we have to be connected with all three links you have given. Thank you for the informative post.

    Please write posts like this so the we will get more help to get more clients.

    Lakshmi

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  6. Great article and I fully agree with your comments. However I do want to mention that I haven't seen a good example of a business application on Facebook that's successful, one that attracts and engages a business user. Any thoughts or strategies for what they need to do? One thought is to find a way to make your business application fun.

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  7. Many are taking advantage of the power of social media now a days. But the problem is they don't know what are the strategies to do. They should be also aware that mistakes could be fatal to these social media account such as permanent banning which could make all your work turn to nothing.

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  8. Great tips Martin..I am great fan of your posts..Many blog writers says that Facebook App is the best tool for building good relationship. I haven't have tried it yet. Is it true? Let me try it in our business...Thanks for your tips!

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  20. Facebook for local businesses can provide get info and new clients, but it really is something which requires a real time commitment. It is a great way to interact with fans (friends/customers, etc.) however depending on your clientele, Facebook may not be the small business owner's answer to social media marketing.

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  22. Before facebook I was using twitter, but now I am sure that facebook is the best social network for business.

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