Social networking has changed drastically since the launch of MySpace many, many years ago. Social networking first evolved from MySpace into Facebook, where college kids were able to connect with only the students at their own school, and then into Twitter, where anyone can "tweet" any short musings under 140 characters, and now has opened the door to many businesses and corporations to reaching out to potential clients and customers. But what other social networks are out there, and which ones should businesses look into?
LinkedIn is obviously not that new. While it began as a professional networking site sort of related to Facebook but for professionals has now also incorporated many of the social networking aspects that make Facebook so popular. Businesses can now add their own accounts and allow employees to be added to their network. Users can also add status updates in addition to all of their professional information. But, perhaps one of the best ways for businesses to utilize LinkedIn is through their job postings. You can easily garner new employees through this social network.
Foursquare is also not relatively new, but it is a great social networking site that shows users where all of their friends have "checked in" to. This is a great way to get exposure to other users who might not be acquainted with your business. You can also use coupons and discounts through Foursquare.
Google+ burst onto the scene this summer, and many people are still deciding how best to use it. But some people suggest that it might be easier and better for small businesses to use than Facebook. Google announced that special business features for Google+ would roll out by the end of the year. Such features could include Google AdWords integration and other key advertising features that could easily target your clients interests.
Klout is an interesting social network because it gives you a score based on how much you influence your followers. It's a great way to keep your social networking initiatives in check and see how you're doing. Klout is also a great network to keep track of other users in your same field or interest. Also, Klout offers Klout perks, which awards users with specific incentives.
Chime.in is incredibly new It launched October 17, 2011 and brands itself as an "interest network" that makes connections based on content instead of people. It's basically a Facebook-Twitter-Reddit combo that allows you to post "chimes" with headlines, images, videos, and tags. It also allows users to comment on your "chime" and vote on it. Chime.in will then categorize each post to allow users to easily find posts they're interested in. Businesses should look into this social network because it allows for easy polling of users.
Social networking can be daunting with all the Liking, tweeting, and chiming. Make sure your business takes advantage of the social network that is right for you.
Stanford Sypniewski is a networking guru who knows how important it is to expand your horizons, whetner you're running for political office or branding yourself online. He's seen people on social networking sites selling everything from Sarah Palin for President 2012 bumper stickers to Christmas toys. The way you utilize these services is up to you - but you need to be using them!