Social Networking Beyond the Big 3

Facebook. Twitter. LinkedIn. If you’re involved in online marketing at all, you know that the web has become a social place. It’s all about sharing and these sites have made it quite easy to do so. While it can be beneficial for many companies to utilize these sites and have an active presence, these sites are not the “be all end all” of social media.

In many industries, there are niche social networking websites that may prove to be even more beneficial than a Facebook fan page or a Twitter profile. It’s important to seek out these industry specific networking sites. Finding them shouldn’t be too tricky. First, conduct a basic search for Your Industry + Networking and Your Industry + Networking + Your City. Next, search for the names of some influential people or companies in your industry. Their social profiles may appear in the result, or you can spend a little more time digging. People often mention what associations and networks that they are attached to in a blog or website bio or “about us” section. It’s also a good idea to simply ask around within your group of colleagues and connections.

You may find that some industry specific networking sites and associations have membership fees. If this is the case, it’s important to do some research before handing over your credit card information. You should find out how long it’s been around, what kind of members it attracts, and what purpose it serves. If you notice that all of your main competitors are members, it’s probably not a bad idea to join.

The number of niche social networks available to you depends on what industry you are in. For some industries there may be lots. It’s important to avoid going too crazy and joining them all, unless of course you actually have the time to be active on them all. Most likely, this isn’t the case. Just like offline networking, it’s important to be effective with your time. It’s easy to waste your time and get no return, so be careful and monitor the outcome of your efforts. If the sites are any good, they should result in at least a few leads or sales over time if you have the right strategy in place.

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