Connecting on Social Media is a great way to drive traffic to your blog or website. If you’ve tried Facebook and Twitter and haven’t really been able to make them work for your business, don’t throw out the idea of social media entirely. It may be that you are simply using the wrong platform.
Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are the biggest players in the Social Media arena, but they are far from the only ones. There are many specialized, boutique platforms out there; the trick is to find the one where your ideal clients congregate and show up there.
7 Social Media Sites for Entrepreneurs
Here are 7 Social Media sites for Entrepreneurs to get you started. All of them offer a free basic membership so you can try them out before you spend a dime:
Biznik: At Biznik, their motto is “Business Networking that Doesn’t Suck.” Business people connect using their real names — not their business names — and offer advice and encouragement to each other. You can use Biznik to find referral partners, colleagues, and clients. Biznik members connect online, and meet in person.
EFactor: EFactor is a network that automatically matches entrepreneurs with other members. To get started, you complete a profile and brief questionnaire to help EFactor match you with other members; the site finds matches based on your needs and what you have to offer. EFactor has links to Events, Networking, Resources for businesses, and even Funding opportunities. Their free membership matches you with other members and provides a substantial amount of resources. A VIP membership is also offered that enables advanced search options and reporting. The VIP membership starts at $12 per month. EFactor has over 1 million members in 185 countries across 90 industries.
MantaConnect: Manta is devoted solely to small businesses. It is the largest online community with this focus. With Manta you are able to connect with other business owners, promote your business, and further develop your customer base. Once you register, you can build an online profile and link to your business website. People use Manta to find companies to buy from and connect and partner with companies. Millions of people use Manta to build and maintain relationships with companies and individuals. It is also a great place to obtain and give referrals.
Savor the Success: For women entrepreneurs only; as a boutique social network, they have “designed a unique and focused networking model to help women reach big-time business goals.” They offer online AND offline networking opportunities, including networking events in NYC and San Francisco, and mastermind groups around the country.
StartupNation: StartupNation is a free networking site. It offers step-by step guides, expert advice, podcasts, articles, contests, blogs, and more. Highly successful entrepreneurs created this site and offer valuable guidance and support. The site includes a member-to-member networking feature to help you build solid relationships with entrepreneurs that want to succeed, just like you.
SunZu: SunZu is a a space to meet, share, learn, trade and grow with other business owners. Simply put, a social network that puts doing business first.
Xing: XING is a platform where professionals from all kinds of different industries can meet up, find jobs, colleagues, new assignments, cooperation partners, experts, and generate business ideas. Members can meet and exchange views in over 45,000 specialist groups, while also getting together at networking events.
These sites are particularly useful if you are marketing to other businesses or business people. If your target market is consumers, these sites will help you network with other businesses that can support you with products, services, and advice to grow your business, but you’ll likely have to find other networks to reach consumers directly.
How to Make the Most of Each Social Media Site
When faced with a list like this, it can be tempting to go sign up for all of them in one day. Don’t. It will only overwhelm you and you’ll never give enough attention to any one of them to make the most of your time investment.
Instead, follow this advice:
- Choose ONE site to test drive today. Don’t sign up for the first one you click on, but take a look at all of them before choosing the ONE that is likely the best fit for you and your business.
- Sign up for a free account on that ONE site.
- Create a profile that is compelling and includes detailed information about you and the products and services you offer.
- Write a blog post, article, or start a discussion thread (depending on the site) to begin a conversation.
- Comment on 1-2 existing posts, articles, and/or discussions.
- Spend 10-15 minutes a day on your new Social Networking site. Post, comment, invite friends.
- After 3 months, take stock of your experience. Have you made connections that have benefited your business? Has your participation led to any sales? Is this something that you want to continue?
- Continue with this network or try a new one. Always remember to give each new network enough of your attention so that you can evaluate it honestly.
Don’t get caught up in thinking that if one social media profile is good for my business, than more is better. This kind of thinking will just result in overwhelm that prevents you from being truely present in ANY social media space.
Remember that your goal with social media is to find the place(s) that your target audience hangs out and then be present there.
Do you have a favorite boutique social media platform that I didn’t mention? Please share it in the comments.