IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Social Media Web Sites to Boost Your Small Business

Having trouble understanding the differences between Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, and Twitter? Here's your social media Web site cheat sheet. By Geoffrey Oldmixon

If you're not as social media-savvy as you might like, have no fear. It's not as complicated as it might sound. Even so, there is a lot to learn. So, here's the starting point.

PROFESSIONAL NETWORKING

LinkedIn -- With more than 35 million accounts, LinkedIn.com enables its users to post resumes, cite work history, and network with "contacts." Post your company's job openings or ask and answer profession-focused questions.

MerchantCircle -- Boasting more than 5 million monthly users, MerchantCircle.com aids small businesses with their online advertising efforts and local marketing. Use the site's free email coupon templates to solicit jobs from your own contact list.

Xing -- Roughly seven million registered members use Xing.com to manage their business contacts, profiles, events, and community forums. Use the site's contact sorting features to determine a sales channel or pinpoint a marketing audience.

GENERAL NETWORKING

Facebook -- Users join networks based on neighborhoods, schools, workplaces, and so on. On your Facebook.com page, you could post links press releases, promote events, or inform "friends" and "fans" about your services and accomplishments.

Twitter -- Registered users of Twitter.com are able to generate a profile page as well as send and receive "tweets," text-based posts of up to 140 characters. Send "tweets" to all of your "followers."

POSTING SITES

Digg -- On this site, users submit and read news from all over the Internet. Insert links to your own press releases, marketing communications, or sales notifications. Weigh in on the relevant news posted by other Digg.com users.

Flickr -- This photo and video posting site is a great place to store images. Refer potential clients (or even the press) to your Flickr.com account for high-resolution shots of projects, people, or products.

Mixx -- Users generate their own "mixx" of content by voting for or against what's been posted by the site's millions of users. Turn to Mixx.com to determine what its users like best about your types of services.

Newsvine -- This site draws its content from user-posted news stories from throughout the Internet. Use your Newsvine.com account to determine which industry-related news stories are resonating with readers.

Small Business Brief -- SmallBusinessBrief.com is where you can post and find industry-focused news, advice, or resources. A forum provides networking possibilities as well.

YouTube -- The Web's most popular video sharing site, YouTube.com is a place to post sales videos or appearances you've made on local TV. Reference the URL of your posts to potential clients via e-mail or other social media.

GEOFFREY OLDMIXON is a Springfield, Mass.-based business and technology writer.

About the Author

Geoffrey Oldmixon is a freelance writer based in Western Massachusetts.

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