Your social network

Facebook didn’t seem that big to me until some years ago. I was running a network of websites for a group of radio stations and I noticed that traffic was starting to wane suddenly without significant changes to the site. After some research, I found the problem…DJs had suddenly discovered social media. They were no longer promoting our station website, but instead getting people involved in their own profiles on Facebook and Twitter…and the people listening were also shifting from a more active role on our own site to spending more time on other social networks.

Losing traffic to Facebook was scary at first, but eventually, we caught on and learned that we needed to treat shifts in the industry as opportunies to engage our audience and not as fight with the latest internet trend. As Facebook fast approaches one billion users, it’s getting impossible to ignore.

It’s not about them

Ultimately the problem a lot of people have with social media properties like YouTube and Facebook is that we tend to think of them as time pits instead of resources. Social media sites can provides all the tools you need to help you reach out to your clients.

Every business has their own group of people they’re trying to reach, build relatonships with and connect. That’s YOUR social network. Facebook, twitter and others can give you the software you need to reach out to your social network. So it’s not important what the site is, it’s important that you become social and find serve your audience through the tools the interenet provides.

When you have an event, think about the media itself and what would be the most efficient way to promote and share with your audience. Is enough of your audience on twitter to justify opening up a new account for your business? Would the best way to engage with your audience is to create a live uStream event? Where should you put photos of the event…Flickr, Facebook, PhotoBucket?

Instead of trying to spend your time chasing after the latest craze, be strategic as to which ones you go after. Try opening up accounts here and there, but limit the time you dedicate to them until you figure out what’s reasonable and what gives you the most return.

##Master the mashup

As I mentioned before Facebook is hard to ignore, you should definitely have a presence there, but try to find ways to mashup the different services so they’re easier to work with.

Twitter is probably the best way to send updates. You can update twitter through any phone, not just smartphones and it can be connected to your Facebook accounts so that a post in twitter will feed to your Facebook page. Plus, I think the 140 character limit will help you keep the messages focused. If you tweet about a photo or video, it can also appear in your Facebook timeline.

YouTube is much better at video and it can once again be connected to your Facebook account so that a video posted in YouTube appears in your other feeds. Plus you can record, edit and post a video directly from most smartphones, making it a minimal setup. Google hangouts are a great way to hold meetings and now with the addition of Hangouts on air, it’s become a compelling way to stream meetings.

Having your eggs spread out to different places also makes it more visible to search engines and improves your rankings. Just remember that the important thing is to think of your audience as your own social network and use the tools the sites provides to engage with them and grow your business.

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