Wednesday, January 11, 2012

7 Social Media Sites For Building Your Online Presence

Establishing your online presence is essential to influencing what others are saying about you on the internet. Previously we discussed the basic elements of an online profile. Now we’re going to move into the types of profiles to consider: interactive and non-interactive. Interactive profiles are built on Web 2.0 technology and are often referred to as “social media.” These are platforms for you to interact with your target audience, virtual meeting places for people to get to know each other.

Some popular social media sites to consider are:
  1. Facebook: A platform for sharing information of a personal nature on your Facebook Profile or business nature on your Facebook Page. Pages are great for sharing tips, articles, videos, promotions, and other valuable information. It’s also a great place to ask questions, post polls, and get feedback from customers that you can incorporate into strengthening your company. It is the most widely used social media platform in the world. 
  2. LinkedIn: A platform targeted to professionals for sharing portfolios and resumes virtually. It has a unique area on the profile for your contacts to leave recommendations of your work for others to read. You can also join or start LinkedIn discussion groups where you can share your expertise. 
  3. Twitter: Twitter is a networking platform that allows you to share your expertise, interact with others, and search what others are saying about you, your company, as well as your competitors in 140 characters or less.  
  4. Youtube: An online video sharing and viewing site. Users create their own Youtube “channel” to upload and share videos, while viewers can comment and share the videos with their networks. 
  5. Blogs: A blog is an interactive website that usually is updated regularly in reverse chronological order. Others can comment on blog posts and share them with friends. It also can have non-interactive pages to house common information such as your “Contact Us” or “About” pages.  Blogs are useful for demonstrating your knowledge base and expertise.  Some popular free blogging platforms are: Wordpress, Blogger, and Typepad
  6. Google+: This is a powerful profile page that increases your visibility in search rankings and acts as a central location that links to all your online profiles, websites, alternate spellings of your name, contact information and much more. You should link to your Google+ profile on all your other profiles and include it in your email signature. Sooner than later, when someone does an online search of your name they will find your Google profile at the top of the search results.
  7. Forums: Forums are virtual discussion platforms that are targeted to specialized groups. They are a great place to share your tips and set yourself apart as an expert in your field. Search Google or ask other professionals in your field where they go to connect with others virtually. 
You should set up accounts on most of the popular social media sites even if you don’t plan to use them, as this prevents others from taking your desired username. Your profiles will require ongoing maintenance that can be very time consuming. I recommend choosing the top one or two that will have the most impact for you or your business, and learn to use them well. To ensure success, try accessing the help pages on each respective site, reading articles, doing webinars, watching videos, or asking another professional for tips. In my next post we’ll discuss non-interactive profiles.

Miranda Vande Kuyt is a self-employed project and communications consultant. She is also the facilitator of the "Look Before You Leap: Self-Employment Survival Strategies" online course through