Article Contributed by Greg Gaskill
Social networking was once the domain of people looking for friendship on the internet, but savvy businesses have also begun to realize the value of linking up with others through the wide variety of networks that are springing up almost daily. They have learned to enjoy the ease with which they can keep in touch with clients, suppliers, and a host of others. In fact, there are now sites that cater specifically to businesses. Social networking benefits to business are many; here are just a few, and how they can help you.
Why Social Networking?
When you develop a page on a social networking site, you are setting yourself up to connect with everyone else who has signed up on that service. So if you sign up on a service with millions of members, you are instantly able to connect with that many new people. Although you would not generally be able to send out a global email--that would be spam--you could search for those who are interested in your product or service. In other words, you could do a targeted search for your perfect customer or supplier.
Which Networks are Best for Businesses?
Although the ever-popular services like Myspace and Facebook have quite a few businesses with well-developed pages, they are mostly for social contacts, artists, social causes, and bands. Those who want more professional connections often turn to LinkedIn, Tribe, and Ryze.
These services will work best for those who create the most complete and targeted online identity. For instance, if you are a professional freelance editor but have a page full of information about your accomplished children, you may miss a lot of opportunity. Of course you are proud of your children, but they probably will not get you gigs. So stick to business.
One of the ways to make the most of your social networking page is to hire an online marketing company to create and maintain it. That way it stays professional, up to date, and has enough of the right material on it to make an impact and improve your search engine rankings.
How Do Business Social Networking Sites Improve Search Engine Rankings?
One way is that you can choose your own URL. With some services you start out with one their system gives you, then you enter your own. If you enter your business name, you have increased your internet exposure--the search engine spiders will find you more easily. Important tip: Make sure you link up to your company home page; backlinks count in search engine rankings. If you have multiple pages, provide a link to your company's page in each one.
This brings up the idea of multiple pages. Some services allow you to have multiple hubs, but some do not. Social networking benefits to business are best when you find a way to use more than one page, so it might benefit you to use multiple email addresses so you can have more than one page with the same service. Then link them together. Having multiple pages will increase your exposure on the internet.
You can also use your blog space to provide informative articles to your contacts--make sure the article bears your business name and uses keywords related to your business. This is called SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, and you will rise in the rankings when potential customers use your exact keyword phrases as a search term. Again, an online marketing company will know the best keywords to use and will have professional writers available to perform this optimization.
Social networking benefits to business are enormous, and a business that takes advantage of this tool will see better exposure often in the same day they create the page! These days, to ignore social networking is to do so at your own peril.
Article Contributed by Greg Gaskill