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How many social networks do you need?

The launch of Google+ a few weeks ago had many individuals and businesses wondering whether they really needed to sign up to another social network.

So how many social networks do you really need to be signed up to and actively using?

social-media-icons

There are lots of interesting and exciting social networks that can add a lot to your brand. However, you shouldn’t be signing up for everything and trying to keep up with lots of different social networks all at once. If you updated Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, LinkedIn, Orkut, Instagram, Digg and Delicious daily, as well as all the other smaller, lesser known social networks, you’d be wasting a great deal of time and money.

The key is to seek out the social networks that are popular – so a lot of your target audience might be using it – or the ones that can really help you. For instance, if a large part of your business is about pictures and images of your products, then it would be worth getting a Flickr account to store all of your images online, but if your business is more focused on providing a service, then it might not be as valuable. Here at Codastar we can help you understand the online space a little better and talk through your needs, because we know there are so many social networks out there to get your head around!

However, it’s also important to sign up for social networks too, just in case you decide to use them one day. Many big brands have had problems with ‘brandjacking’ in the past, so for instance a big brand will turn to Twitter and see that some users have already signed up for their name and are either just using it as a harmless personal tool, or they’re pretending to be that business!

In his article ‘The cure for social media brandjacking’, Frederick Felman from Ecommerce Times suggests:

“First, sign up for the leading social media sites, even if you aren’t sure they really apply to you. In addition to the well-known general interest sites, there are others that may apply to your specific area of business, especially if you have a high public profile in media, entertainment or travel.

“Second, search for every brand name you want to protect, including your company name, the names of your products, characters, spokespersons (or spokes critters, as the case may be) and any other intellectual property you may have out there.”

Felman raises a good point that it’s not just about the most popular sites, it’s also about those that apply to a specific area of business. For instance, a new social network which curates content called Pinterest is becoming increasingly popular with the home-made craft community, so if you run a car dealership, it won’t matter to you, but if you run a home-made cushion company, it really will!

Although it’s important to keep on top of online news so you know which social networks are new and appropriate to you and sign up for anything that might be interesting, it sometimes isn’t worthwhile to act too quickly. For instance, Google+ is open to individuals at the moment, but businesses aren’t officially allowed to sign up, much like Facebook in the early days.

google-plus-screenshot

In fact the Search Engine Land blog wrote yesterday that some big brands and companies, like Mashable, Ford and Sesame Street have all had their profiles removed because they tried to sign up too early! So although it’s not the right time for a business to sign up to Google+ yet, you can still start integrating some of its features into your current offering, so you need to add the Google +1 button to your website.

If you want to sign up for more than one social network but really don’t feel like you can dedicate enough time to writing updates, then there are ways you can “sync” up more than one. So for instance you can change settings so that when you write a blog post an update goes to your Facebook page, or when you Tweet the same update is sent to Facebook as well. It’s a little early to use Google+ in this way, but most other networks allow this kind of syncing and it really does save time.

The key is to keep an eye on social network news and look for things that could be appropriate for your business. Here at Codastar we can help you understand what’s important to your company and online strategy and, if we’re able to, set up a dedicated profile for you on whichever platform you choose. It may seem a little daunting at first, with so many different networks and services, but instead they should be embraced because they could open up a wealth of opportunity and new business for you and your company.

Images via Google+ and IvanWalsh.com’s Flickr.

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