January 23rd, 2009

The best social media sites for promoting your business — and how to use them

by sage island

Now that we’ve established that social media isn’t going anywhere, you’re probably wondering how you can harness the power of social media for your business. You don’t have to be the President to make it work.

But first, a word on social media marketing: If you want to make the most of your social media campaign, it is essential that you get involved. An Internet marketing consultant can help you set up your campaign and teach you how to use it, but in the end its success or failure depends on you.

Social media requires that you put a face on your business, whether it’s yours or someone within the company to whom you designate that responsibility.

And that’s only the beginning. Social media also requires constant participation and maintenance. It can be a lot of work.

It’s also no use if you don’t contribute to the community in a meaningful way. Social media can be a powerful marketing tool, but if all you do is market then you’ll be ignored. You have to offer something useful to the other users, and most of them crave personal interaction. You have to mix your marketing messages with valuable participation.

But don’t let that scare you. It’s also a fun, targeted way to reach your audience on a personal level with wide range of great results for marketing, search engine rankings, and traffic. And it’s free!

Here are my favorite social media sites with some tips on how to use them:



Facebook has surpassed MySpace, which used to be the top social networking site. Facebook also offers a PPC platform, which in my experience hasn’t offered great results. The power of Facebook lies in its networking capabilities.

While Facebook does not allow businesses to build personal profiles, you have two options for promoting your business: building a business profile page and creating a group for your business. I suggest both. Use the page as a central hub for information about your business on Facebook, and use the group as a forum where fans and friends can interact with you and each other.

Facebook is people oriented. The only way it’s going to work is if you’re willing to get involved in the conversation. You’ll need to build a personal profile, seek out friends in your target audience, and participate in groups related to your industry.



Twitter has quickly grown to become one of the most powerful social networking tools on the Web. It’s also the social networking tool that many novices have the hardest time getting into. Twitter allows users to broadcast short, 140-word messages to other users who “follow” them.

It’s no fun, and no use, if your target demographic isn’t using it. I suggest you do some research to determine if you can reach your audience through Twitter. If so, start following them and they’ll follow you back. Use it to share useful industry information, personal messages, and news about your business. If you have a blog, link it to your Twitter account so your followers will be automatically notified of new posts.

Oh, and be sure to follow me (@KGSams) and Amanda (@AmandaKRue) for news on Sage Island, marketing, and Internet marketing.

Social bookmarking


Sites like Digg, Del.icio.us, Reddit, and StumbleUpon allow users to bookmark certain pages. Some have a voting system that ranks sites based on popularity. Others simply track how many times a page has been bookmarked to let you know what content is most popular on your site or allow users to find your site if it matches their interests.

If you blog, frequently update your inventory, or offer information or tools on your site that are useful to your industry, you might try adding a social bookmarking tool (like AddThis or AddtoAny). Be mindful, though — these sites work best with great content that’s constantly being updated. If you add social bookmarking to a page and bookmark it yourself, it’s unlikely to gain any traction if it’s not useful to users.

This is by no means a complete list of social media sites that can help promote business. There are hundreds of other sites and social networking tools. These are just the popular ones I’ve found most effective. But social media marketing is like any other marketing: different tactics work for different businesses. Spend some time exploring and consult with an Internet marketing professional, and you’re sure to find a social media strategy that works for you.

It's more than a message in a bottle.

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