By now, you’d have been bombarded by the sheer number of social media tools and technologies that are supposed to help your business — and your brand — grow. Networking sites. Blogs. Bookmarks. Content sharing platforms. Online collaborations. It’s overwhelming, this campaign for supremacy in the battlefield of Web 2.0.
But here’s the inconvenient truth: you will never have enough time to create a profile for every social media site out there. Otherwise you’d be spreading your identity too thin, and all the efforts you made in building your reputation and your brand will have gone for naught.
So where do you really start? And how do you make yourself memorable? What do the experts consider as the essentials? Amidst the clutter of conversation and communication on the Internet, where do you establish yourself?
Below is a list of the top ten social media tools that experts use. No list can claim to being the definitive one, but you’ll find that these ten tools are more than just recommendations. They are requirements.
1. Facebook: No, it’s not just for college students. With over 100 million active users worldwide, Facebook is a rich social networking application that allows you to get to know people — potential clients, customers, friends, contacts from the other side of the world, audiences with similar backgrounds and interests. And they, in turn, can get to know you — intimately, at a level that’s far deeper than the information provided on your business card. Simply put: there is no better way to leverage the potential of an online community and reach its members than by socializing in Facebook.
2. Twitter: Alright; with Twitter, you’re limited to 140 characters. You may ask yourself how on earth can 140 characters help you with your marketing, branding, and loyalty-building strategies? Well, if you come to think about it, Twitter is your direct pitch to customers with short attention spans. It’s your chance to be memorable and concise. With two to four “Tweets” a day, you can create, join, manage, and follow conversations with contacts both business and personal. That’s how communication is best carried out, isn’t it? Two-way.
3. Flickr: A picture paints a thousand words, so imagine what you can say with Flickr, an online management system for photos which you can tag and share with other people. With Flickr, you can promote your business. Sell and display your product. Convey what your company, your brand, and your people stand for. Create your own online persona. Engage with people who are interested to literally see who you are and what you are offering.
4. LinkedIn: This tool gives you much more than the chance to create a virtual resume. With an impressive network of professionals from a wide variety of industries, LinkedIn is your online bridge to fruitful business relationships. Membership in this site will help you manage your contacts, build your professional reputation, search for associates, and prove to seven million users how special you are. And you won’t have to disclose your relationship status.
5. Blogging: Don’t mistake blogging as a dear-diary exercise for individuals. A blog for your business is a powerful tool to deliver fresh, strategic content as well as to personalize your brand. It’s the channel through which you can engage with your key audiences, an opportunity for you to make them keep coming back. Through blogging you can impart the latest information on your company, market your products and services, share your opinion, express your unique perspectives, establish your professional authority on a given subject, and foster meaningful communication between yourself and your market. At this day and age when everyone wants to be relevant, blogging lets your voice be heard.
6. YouTube: Don’t just be heard. Be seen, too. YouTube allows you to execute strategic branding through video and broadcast your desired messages to the rest of the world. Whether you’re sharing a “behind-the-scenes” documentary, a videolog — or “vlog” — of your key business activities, a corporate presentation, or a montage of positive customer testimonials, Youtube is a perfect channel to reach out to your key audiences.
7. StumbleUpon: StumbleUpon just might be the most useful social bookmarking site out there. It allows you to organize your favorite sites online and recommend them to a network of over 5 million users. And it’s not just an online version of the “Add to Favorites” tab on your Web browser; the option to tag, review, and categorize stumbled-upon content paves the way for shared discoveries and unique social interactions.
8. Technorati: Under one roof: that’s how you can sum up the usefulness of this blog search engine. Not only does Technorati provide you with the “Ping” option to index your content in real-time (and publicly, too); it is also a great tool to monitor the online presence of your blog or business. What are people saying about you and your brand? Technorati is where you find out. Moreover, Technorati is a comprehensive source for all kinds of tagged social media and information on the blogosphere. Looking for content relevant to your business? Thanks to Technorati, it’s all under one roof.
9. Wiki’s: Social media tools bring people together in shared activities — to find shared meanings. This is best exemplified by the idea of wiki’s, which encourage individuals from around the world to collaborate on a project and promote meaningful topic associations. After all, is there a better way to network than by working with people and accomplishing a common goal?
10. Ning: What is Ning? There’s a chance that you might not have heard of this before, as many people have been quick to dismiss its viability as a social media tool. With the promise of letting you create your own social network about anything, Ning is an amazing intuitive and easy-to-use tool which you can use to answer specific business needs or support your main website.