But beyond networking in discussion groups or with friends, you can do so much more in public social networks, let alone what can be accomplished if you were to create a social network that embraced your employees, customers, suppliers and prospects.
Here are 10 basic strategies to create awareness of your business using public social networks:
Your approach to public social networks should employ a broad marketing strategy. When you join your first social network, let's say Facebook, save your profile contents to a document file so that you have the content ready to cut and paste in to any other social network you join. That will save you a ton of time.
In your social network profile talk about your business and your brand. This can be done subtly or very openly. There are lots of business people doing this today whether on Facebook, MySpace or such business-oriented social networks like Xing, SalesSpider, LinkedIn and their like.
Place mini applications on your social network page, such as widgets. If you want to understand what a widget is, there is a great article on the subject published in a blog written by Jeremiah Owyang, a Social Computing Analyst at Forrester Research.
Create a video that you can post to You Tube about your business. It's easy to do with the web cam you may have with your computer or one that you buy. They are really very inexpensive these days.
You can also create slide shows using inexpensive web presentation tools such as Flypaper.
You can create photo presentation shows with video, words and music using tools like Smilebox.
Create a group focused on issues related to your business and brand, and invite people to join it. Start with your friends and encourage them to let others know about the group.
Post Notes or create a separate blog and put the link on your social network profile page. On my Facebook profile, I have a link to this blogspot in the Info section. Keeping up a blog can be time consuming so choose to write about issues that you know will resonate with customers and prospects. If you find 3rd party content and want to incorporate it into your blog always ask permission first before posting.
Link your company website to your public social network profile. And mention your social network presence on your company website. The more cross marketing you do the better.
Get on as many social networks as you can. One is great but 5 or more is even better.
Our next blog on social networks will explore inside-the-firewall social networking strategies for small business.