One of the key components to an effective online presence is the proper utilization of social media and other popular social networking opportunities.

Social Media sites are important since they allow a business to target and leverage their audience by way of social engagement, social referrals, calls to actions, and promotions.

I know that many people question if Social Media is really needed?  The important thing to remember is that online sharing is the #1 ranking criteria for a website since Google’s belief is that if content is shared then it must have value.  As the Pew Research Center content at right notes, the level of user engagement in Social Media is strong with all demographics, and usage has consistently increased year after year.

Social Media Site Usage 2014
Pew Research Center

Social Media for Business

If you need help, we can assist you with the set-up, management, and content inclusions for all of the primary social media options. For most businesses we recommend and assist with the following:

Facebook

facebookFacebook is the leader of the social media options do to its popularity (well over 1 billion registered users with an estimate 900,000,000 unique monthly visitors). Setting up a Facebook page is a relatively quick process, one simply needs to select their business or organization type and configure the setting requirements. After this the inclusion of content is much like one would add to a blog. The important thing is to include a quality version of your logo or representative image for the thumbnail at the header, and to create a quality cover image that is representative of your business.

For our social media clients we will create an engaging cover image that will match the look/feel of their website, assist with adding content that will be of interest to their visitors, help with settings configurations and app integration, assist with promotions, training, and cross-linking with the website and blog.

Twitter

twitterWhat Twitter offers is the opportunity to create quick messages and link to important content such as promotions and upcoming events (140 characters or less) – now with the ability to add images as well. While businesses will use Twitter differently, it can be a very effective platform for social engagement when the “tweets” are dynamically added to your websites and blogs in a side-bar; in this regard if you are one who blogs often it is possible to have blog posts content automatically added as “tweets” on Twitter, and as “posts” on Facebook. This will save you a lot of time updating!

Setting up a Twitter account and adding your business logo is a quick process. The important thing to do is to provide regular tweets about your business, and to take the time to “follow” other people and businesses in related industries since by “following” others they are likely to follow you. Twitter follows is another important SEO consideration since “tweeted” content, like all shared content, will improve your ranking.

Blogs

wordperssBlogs are not typically seen as social media, yet they provide a platform for timely, changeable content, and allow for comments and other forms of visitor engagement. Blogs are especially effective since they they allow you to talk about your industry in detail, to link to and include related industry content, and otherwise include content that is a resource to your clients and visitors. Blogs are one of the primary SEO considerations for high ranking which every business should utilize.

Of the blog platforms two are commonly used; these are WordPress and Blogger.

Simple WordPress layouts are relatively easy to use, and is the preferred option for most new web designers and the do-it-yourself types. WordPress has a free hosted option, yet most designers will choose self hosted (uploading the blog files to the client’s server and installing a MySQL database). With the latter option WordPress is customizable since all the source code is available. Furthermore, WordPress has a great number of templates (themes) available, and a large development community creating plug-ins (widgets) for just about every conceivable need.  It is important to note that the simple/free WP themes will have inherent limitations with regard to customization and enhancement.

Blogger, a Google product, is the simpler option for most people, and works fine if you just need a simple blog. As for customization Blogger does have a variety of add-on options (known as “gadgets”) and Google’s Blogger layout does provide a fair number of templates with different content block options, and editable styling of page colors and typography and colors for fonts (text). That being said Blogger does have some inherent limitations since it is “hosted”. For one, your page and content therein is officially owned by Google and can be removed at anytime. Theme customization is relatively limited, and you are not able to access the source code.

In short, Blogger is best if you are looking to get a blog up very quickly and your need is just to create simple blog posts, and WordPress is best if you need a full functioning blog that will have the look/feel of a professional website.

LinkedIn

linkedinThis social networking site is designed as a “professionals network” and is a popular option of many professionals, including corporations and varied businesses. The layout is basically one’s online resume, yet extended to encourage networking by “adding people to your network”, professional reviews, and the hundreds of professional discussion groups. There is a free and commercial version (I have found the free option to provide everything most clients need). To create an account just go to www.linkedin.com and follow the online prompts. Each time you visit they will ask you to fill out additional details until your page is 100% complete. As noted initially, LinkedIn is a very popular social media option and has the potential to help you not only expand your own circle of contacts, yet find qualified employees when you need to fill a position.

Google+

googleplusGoogle+ is an important social media platform if for no other reason that it is a Google product so integrated into their many other quality applications, not to mention search engine results. It is true that Google+ is still not as popular as Facebook yet, but considering Google’s excellent track record for innovation and ongoing updates, my bet is that Google+ will be the new social media leader in coming years.

Google+ is already integrated into many websites by way of their “Google +1″ button. In addition, Google Plus Local (formerly “Google Places”) is the very popular and highly indexed business location/review site that is now integrated into Google+. Needless to say, Google+ needs to be taken seriously and utilized sooner than later.

YouTube

youtubeYouTube is an extremely popular site where users share videos of all types. Not only that, many videos can be embedded in web sites and blog posts and on other sites such as Facebook. YouTube videos can be created in a variety of formats which allows for a business or freelancer to share information about their business and expertise in a media that works for them. YouTube can be an invaluable tool, especially considering that many people are more likely to watch a video presentation than read text copy on a web page or blog.

It is important to note that effective social media practices are all about “engagement”. Wherever possible make your website, blog, Facebook and Google+ pages fun and interesting. Of course adding informative videos is a great option since resource web sites will do much better in the search engine rankings than those that don’t provide such content. To add a video to YouTube you simply need to go to their site and create an account.  Vimeo video is another good option.

Additional Options

Depending on the industry you are in, there are some additional social options that you might want to consider.  Pinterest is a good option if you have a product catalog, and Instagram is great if you post a lot of fun photos and your target demographic is on the younger side.  Other popular options are Houzz, Tumblr, VK, Flickr, and Vine.