Larry BraunerEven people who don’t go online and don’t understand social networking have heard of MySpace or Facebook, names that might conjure up fears of predators or identity theft.

However, that’s not my point.

My point is that MySpace and Facebook are so much talked about that they have pretty much become household names, and serious business networkers have or ought to have a presence at MySpace, Facebook and Linked In — and at other major social networking sites.

Many of the important online networking sites are listed for your convenience:

There are also industry specific sites. For example if your business is real estate related, consider joining ActiveRain Real Estate Network and Wanna Network, if you don’t already belong.

To find business networking sites specific to any industry, try plugging the industry name and the words “networking sites” into your favorite search engine.

But wait, the story doesn’t end here.

Smaller and newer business networking sites also deserve to be included in your online portfolio. After all, less can be more.

When Diane Hochman Zigs, I Zag

My Private ClassroomDiane Hochman, the founder and director of My Private Classroom for Marketers, often instructs, “Don’t Follow the Flock”. When others are zigging, you zag.

Diane is a Web 2.0 social media rock star. Many people follow her every move. They go where she goes. They do what she does. They zig when she zigs, and they zag when she zags.

People like Diane Hochman and Mike Dillard have their own flocks. Since I don’t want to follow the flock, nor live in somebody’s shadow, when Diane and Mike zig, I zag.

When they’re hanging at Facebook and Twitter, I’m chillin’ at one of the newer smaller sites such as Sta.rtUp.biz, a site that caters to small business entrepreneurs, or Natural Networkers, a social networking site for proponents of attraction marketing.

I might also be list building at Direct Matches or schmoozing at Yuwie, since they are not.

I think you get the general idea. It fits in with my online social networking strategy and my personal branding strategy. It’s common sense. I have plenty of room to maneuver.

You too might be best off charting a different course than your competition or industry leaders.

Choosing Business Networking Sites

There are many possible criteria for choosing business sites. However, at the end of the day it’s largely a matter of trial and error.

Nevertheless, let me share a few of my considerations with you. Perhaps I’ll share more in a future blog post.

Some social networking sites are funded by membership fees, some by advertising, and some by a combination of the two. I mainly prefer advertising supported sites. I’m not typically reaching out to a very elite crowd.

I do admit, I was a paid Executive Member at Direct Matches for three years. I highly valued the package of services they provided, and I appreciated Bill Weber’s personal touch. You can join Direct Matches for free.

I don’t pay to use any social networking sites at the present time. All the networking sites I use are either ad supported or offer free memberships that I find suitable.

Some networking sites make it easier to connect than others. I like to reach out to a large audience and prefer sites that make it easy for me to do that.

I like to be able to browse and add friends or contacts by demographic characteristics or by geographic location. When sites offer that option, it’s great. When they don’t, I look to a site’s groups or clubs to find people in my target market.

I recommend that you explore Ning social networking sites. While they do not support demographic browsing, but they are nevetheless very useful for business networking.

Short Lived Networking Feature

Some new social networking sites let me send mail to all my contacts or to all members of groups to which I belong. I love this capability and use it effectively without abusing or spamming.

I like to let lots of people know about my new blog posts. If I didn’t have a blog, I’d send links to useful information and thereby build my relationship with fellow members.

Unfortunately, as a networking site grows, spammers inevitably move in and ruin it for everybody. It’s impossible to keep a step ahead of them, so all sites eventually limit or eliminate this wonderful feature.

Don’t Let Spammers Ruin Your Day

I don’t like spammers and wish they’d stick with safelists or classified ads, but I don’t let them ruin my day, nor do I let them dissuade me from using any particular social networking site.

If I can cope with tailgaters and drivers who cut me off on the highway, I can surely cope with spammers.

Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to my RSS feed or by e-mail. Also, visit my About, Services, Media Buzz and Connect pages to learn about me and my social media and web marketing services.

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15 Responses to “Small vs. Large Social Networking Sites”

  1. Andrea Goodsaid on July 27th, 2008 7:59 pm

    I’m with you Larry, do what the rest aren’t and you’ll never fail to stand out :)

    NaturalNetworkers (combined with my inner circle site) IS my different course and it delights me to no end that my particular different course is also a platform for others to find whatever their path is — so cool.

    I appreciate the attention … the link is certainly appreciated as is your presence on the community.

    It’ll be interesting to see whether spammers can get any traction there given the nature of the community intentions — guess that’s a bridge to cross if shows up :)

    Doesn’t really worry me — I have a ban button and I ain’t afraid to use it (grin).

    Am really enjoying your blog!

    Andrea

  2. Mary K Weinhagen on July 27th, 2008 9:04 pm

    Social/Business Networking has really been so enhanced by the abundance of community sites.

    I’m certainly experiencing different benefits with small vs. large networking sites… and certainly see a place for BOTH to provide value.

    My approach is to take advantage of the greater numbers of people on the larger sites and invite any and all over to the smaller site where the relationships unfold and deepen. This is a great first step in sorting people who might be attracted to me and/or my business from those not interested.

    Thanks for the post…
    I appreciate you!

    –Mary K

    ¸..· ´¨¨)) -:¦:-
    ¸.·´ .·´¨¨))
    ((¸¸.·´ ..·´ -:¦:-
    -:¦:- ((¸¸.·´* Light

    EXPECT MIRACLES!

    A Natural Networker!!! ;-)

  3. Linda Morton on July 28th, 2008 9:47 am

    Larry,

    Thanks for mentioning some of your favorite sites, I’ll check them out.

    I also have a question for you. I’ve been spending most of my time working on SEO. Even with an SEO company working for me, I’m not getting ranked.

    Over the weekend I did some serious competition research.

    It appears that my competition is mostly authority sites on business and marketing or that Wikipedia’s business and marketing articles.

    I think I need to change my strategy and promote my site more through social networking.

    Do you think social networking can substitute for search engine rankings? Does it bring you enough traffic by itself to support your business?

  4. Sandee Robbins on July 28th, 2008 11:33 am

    Thanks for your “words of wisdom”. I can understand where you are coming from.

    Please note that I linked to you today My Thoughts Today.

  5. Larry Brauner on July 28th, 2008 2:24 pm

    @Sandee Thanks Sandee!

    @Linda Thanks for you question Linda.

    Do I think that online social networking can substitute for search engine optimization?

    Not substitute, but…

    You can generate lots of visits and new subscribers unsing social networking sites.

    It’s the best way I’ve found so far to add subscribers.

    Your content, search engine ranking, and subscribers are all assets.

    When you have good content and good standing with the search engines, you receive targeted visitors 365/7.

    When you have good subscribers, you receive repeat visits from them, and an opportunity to develop a relationship with them.

    I looked at your site, and I believe I can help you… with your site, social networking and social media. Let’s talk.

    Larry

  6. Jena Isle on July 28th, 2008 6:05 pm

    This is a very informative post.

    What about the MyLot site, what do you think about it?

    It is social networking but pays users at the same time.

    Thanks for sharing.

  7. Larry Brauner on July 28th, 2008 8:57 pm

    Thank you for your question Jena.

    I don’t personally use MyLot.

    As far as social networking sites that pay, please read my December 9 post, Online Social Networking Entering New Phase.

    I belong to networking sites that pay, but I’m there for the networking part and not the paying part.

    Larry

  8. Atniz on July 29th, 2008 11:18 pm

    Most of the time, social networking is used to get more traffic and a way to make money. This is what is happening in today’s trend. For both reason, higher traffic social networking sites like Myspace and Facebook will be the first target compared to the smaller group.

  9. Larry Brauner on July 29th, 2008 11:30 pm

    I began my article with the assertion that one should be on MySpace and Facebook.

    All other things being equal, I agree, more traffic is better than less.

    However when you factor in quality, targeting, competition, site features and terms of service, the choice is not so clear cut.

    Smaller social networking sites have their special place in the networking mix.

  10. Linda on July 30th, 2008 10:13 am

    Hi Larry,

    I am fighting the urge to be on Facebook and Myspace cause I am not a fan. However, if I must, I may. I work to get my traffic differently. Kinda like your zig and zag post. I think it is the way to go at the moment.

  11. Larry Brauner on July 30th, 2008 10:22 am

    Hi Linda,

    You can set up a profile on MySpace and Facebook without committing to network there.

    Each online social networking profile is another tile in your panoramic web presence mosaic.

  12. Susie on July 30th, 2008 2:54 pm

    What a great resource, it is so time consuming trying to figure out where, what and who you should be putting the efforts into for social networking, I try several sites, and see if they work, if I see no traffic, I don’t participate as much.

    Thanks for a good source.

  13. Larry Brauner on July 30th, 2008 3:54 pm

    Susie,

    You can see traffic on any site. You have to invite large numbers of people to connect with you. You invite them to visit your profile.

    Every time you post an interesting article, you invite them to come, read, comment and subscribe. Some will. Some won’t.

    Make it easy for people to subscribe. Give them multple options including e-mail.

  14. ILYA on July 31st, 2008 2:29 am

    Hi Larry,

    Your content is getting better and better.

    I have a suggestion for a post: I think people would find it valuable if you could share - “the best ways to win-someone-over to become your friend on social media sites”. What the reasons and motivations are that people would choose you as a friend, how the first wave of a social media site brings with it a “need to amass friends” but once that phase ends, one becomes more selective about whom one accepts, and how the fact that the site is “young may play in your favour”…etc…

    Again - Super content…always a joy to read….

  15. Larry Brauner on August 3rd, 2008 10:24 am

    Ilya,

    I’ve though about your question, and my answer may surprise you.

    The key is to set up your profile so that it is attractive to the people who you are looking to attract. Be yourself in your profile, but at the same time consider the want and needs of your target market.

    Then, the people who accept your offer to connect are the right ones, and the people who refuse are the wrong ones.

    In other words, your profile properly constructed acts as a sorting mechanism.

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