How to Decide Which Social Networks are Most Important to YOU

Most people are doing too much online, but accomplishing too little. Unless you have clear goals and prioritize where you spend your time that is bound to happen. What you need to know is going to take more than one post, so this is the first in a new series. This post lays out how to figure out where you need to be active first.

Why Are You Using Social Media?

You can not prioritize where you should be active and what you should be doing until you know what you intend to accomplish. Here are the key reasons to be on the most important social networks in the order I believe makes them important:

  1. LinkedIn is first because who you know and who knows about you is the most essential task regardless of what your goals are. With rare exception, all of those who are successful and making a good living are succeeding because they are getting referrals and recommendations.
  2. Twitter is second because you can quickly spread your message to influencers and connect with people who are so busy that gatekeepers answer their phones and email. While they may have “their people” answering their Twitter, too, at least you can get a response IF they use it. (Not everyone does, but influencers and social media savvy bloggers do.) Everything you need from how to get started videos to advanced professional strategies can be found in my Twitter Best Practices.
  3. Google + is third because for many people getting more search engine traffic is important and Google has a monopoly on both paid and organic traffic. Their goal is to be all things to all people so you need to be active there. They just rolled out Google Plus Communities and Photos.
  4. Pinterest can drive viral traffic and is extremely popular in some niches. Because they offer group boards you can grow a network and collaborate with people who are already influential there. They now have private, secret Pinterest boards.
  5. YouTube is at least 5th and for many who love making videos it would rank as high as third on this list. Google owns YouTube and videos can drive a lot of traffic. They are also frequently embedded by bloggers in new content which can add to your reach. If you learn how to use viral marketing you can focus on YouTube viral marketing.
  6. Instagram is next because photo sharing has surpassed music for where people spend their time. Read Getting Started on Instagram for tips.
  7. Facebook may be more important for some, but it has major drawbacks. It is best for connecting with people you already know unless you use a fan page. Many have invested time and money growing their Facebook fan base only to find out they can no longer reach those Facebook fans without paying more than it is worth to them.
  8. StumbleUpon can still send massive amounts of traffic, but isn’t as useful as it once was. They continue to send regular traffic to posts like this Best Quotes of All Time on DIRJournal which has 1.8 Million stumbles.
  9. Reddit is not for the faint of heart, but if you can handle it and your content hits the first page there it can stay on the first page at Google for a really long time. Before you try it you really need to know the score or you risk getting banned. Start with my Reddit Tips: How to Use Reddit. 
  10. Quora seems to have picked up where StumbleUpon once shown as the place for the most intelligent people to exchange insights and ideas.

There are over  550 social networks and others may be important in your niche, but those mentioned above are the most used and effective for most individuals and businesses.

Focus on optimizing one network at a time. Pick the one that is most important to you and build some influence there before moving on to the next one.

You will want to choose a username that you can use on each social network. Using the same name is essential because you can not expect people to remember which username you use on which site.

You can check availability for free using the Knowem check social media username search. Choose one that is available on at least the most important networks listed above and register them all at the same time.

I encourage you to use Knowem to claim your usernames
BEFORE you get started or you may lose them!
Your time is worth too much to do this manually
unless you just can’t afford to use them.

As soon as you get any influence at all or your competitors see you are active online, someone is likely to claim YOUR preferred username. There is a section about the importance of Knowem in Google Places vs Google Local Plus.

Most social networks operate on a first claim basis.
If you don’t have your username claimed before someone else does, too bad for you.
They might try to sell it for a high price or they might compete with your business
or just use it to muddy your reputation and confuse your potential connections.

If you are a business and can afford it I strongly advise hiring a social media consultant or at least getting a mentor. You may want to pick up a copy of Tamar Weinberg’s Social Media book The New Community Rules. It provides the best overview of social media and will help you decide what tools you will need.

This is the first in a series of posts I’ll do that explains how to make sure you aren’t just spinning your wheels and wasting your time and money.  Why not subscribe now to make sure you don’t miss anything.

As always, if you have questions I will get you answers.
If I don’t know I will know who does. Just leave a comment.
If you want me to write about something specific next, just ask.

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