Editor's update 02/09/2020:
Networking is one of the oldest and most effective ways establish a business or expand an existing one. Thanks to the internet and social media, networking is no longer restricted to face to face interactions.
What is networking in business and how does it work?
Business networking is all about finding and building a mutually beneficial relationship with other business owners to open up more opportunities. It could be to grow your client or customer base, find new investors or source new suppliers.
Networking works by nurturing new relationships with other business people who work in similar industries and share your values to find ways that you can add mutual value to each business.
“Research out today shows more than three quarters (78%) of small businesses in Australia intend to spend more time on social media in the next 12 months.” (Cain, A., April 2013, Sydney Morning Herald)
Social networking is no doubt the forward driver to pushing your product and brand out into the market due to the efficiency and low costs of making it.
However, you have to be well-versed with the names of social networking sites and how it can be used to fit your marketing campaign.
What are the top social networking sites for small businesses?
Here’s a list of well-established social networking sites and a few you might not have heard of:
This site has one of the largest, if not largest, community and number of users. You would want to go where the massive traffic is and capture attention.
Facebook is a great place to start because almost all other social networking sites are connected to Facebook. Have you ever noticed websites give you an option ‘Connect with Facebook’ or ‘Sign in with Facebook’?
You can now begin to imagine that Facebook is like a mothership of all social networking sites.
With 1 billion users, the largest age group for Facebook is 18 to 29 years old with similar men to women ratio. Interestingly, the largest income group is ,000 to ,000 suggesting a more affluent audience.
Short and sweet micro-blogging. Allows up to 140 characters per tweet (posts). Twitter is great because it is a fast and efficient way to connect with many people at once with the option of retweeting (sharing).
Users are able to receive news and change really fast. There are even on-road stores that use twitter to inform their customers where will they be and when.
It has a huge user base of 288 million people and a similar ratio of men and women.
Tumblr is a blogging site that focuses more on pictures and minimal captions. Unlike WordPress, Tumblr provides a more interactive option by giving the ability for users to repost blog entries and articles they like on their own dashboard.
This site is great to have more funnel-like visions on the groups you want to market to because of another option that allows users to choose general topics that they’re interested in.
With 170 million users under their belt, Sydney comes in fourth in the proportions of viewers Tumblr. More women than men tend to be on Tumblr with a 0.6: 0.4 ratio. Almost half of their viewers are 25 years old and below.
A photo-sharing site that is very user friendly. Pinterest allows users to pin (post) and repin (share) pictures that they like and find interesting.
This site is great for businesses that have a tangible product and you’ll get an edge if you can make it look pretty too because of its large women community.
Pinterest has 12 million users since 2012. Women are 5 times more likely to use Pinterest compared to men. The main age group stretches far from 18 to 50 years old.
The layout of StumbleUpon is similar to Pinterest where pictures and videos are shown all in one endless page. In addition, it has a very interesting way of providing information and service by using ‘Stumble’.
‘Stumble’ brings users to random websites that they have interest in; similar to the action of stumbling across websites.
This website is massive in Ireland and the user groups are middle-aged with 25 million users.
An online community of young and driven entrepreneurial university students that has just recently launched in February 2009. FledgeWing is fascinating because it aims a very niche market of university students that are interested in entrepreneurship.
You can do a lot on this site like pitch an idea, meet people with similar interests easily and help out others.
This website is affiliated with 328 universities that are mostly based in the United States. The age group is generally 18 to 25-year-olds but anyone is able to join.
Is an article-based website that has a convenient sharing system. Squidoo has many different topics of interest and one of them is ‘business and work’ which has a subtopic of ‘small businesses’.
About 500,000 visits each day with 16 million users. Squidoo has a stronger women gender group compared to men and the largest age group is 35 to 44 years old.
Countries like the Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia make up a lot of the viewers while Australia isn’t too far behind with Sydney being very high up the viewer ranks.
This site is aimed at small businesses and professionals. Talkbiznow website acts like a forum bringing people of similar interest in business together to discuss and help each other.
Taking a step further, Talkbiznow provides many unique services like blogs, voice conferencing and webinars (web seminars).
Founded in 2008, this site is definitely worth a look.
A community of mothers that support one another through difficulties in life and more importantly entrepreneurship. They are very active in their social networking eg. YouTube and Pinterest.
Not only that you can market your product through a niche market and highly relationship-based customers but also learn from them how they have used social media to much effectiveness.
Demographics of mostly mothers ranging from age 20 to 50. American-based website. Just imagine watching The Housewives of Atlanta but much bigger and less drama.
Having similar idea of Reddit and Digg, Quora was founded by two former Facebook employees. By this, they were able to pull many strings and launch their site successfully.
This site started off in a niche market of entrepreneurship and small businesses. Then, it expanded into many other categories. Having a business as their core, it is definitely a site not to pass on.
Quora has a stable 500,000 monthly unique views with more men than women from ages 25 to 44. The group topics entrepreneurship, lean start-ups, and start-up advice and strategy has 286 000, 195 000, 146 000 followers respectively.
I cannot express any more importance on social networking sites for growing your business and connecting yourself.
The road to entrepreneurship is a rocky one but should not be a lonely one. Get on social networking sites now and get yourself connected!
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