Larry BraunerMy top social media sites aren’t particularly the social sites that receive the greatest number of visitors. They’re social media sites I find the most pleasurable to use and that fit in some way into my search and social strategy.

My top 10 social media sites nicely complement all of my blogging and search engine optimization efforts. Your list of top social media sites will likely differ from mine, since it’s highly improbable that you and I will share identical search and social strategies.

For the record, here are the Top 15 Most Popular Social Networking Websites, the Top 15 Most Popular Web 2.0 Websites, and the Top 15 Most Popular Social Bookmarking Websites according to eBizMBA, from which you can pick and choose.

My Top Social Media Sites

Social Media SitesThe following are my top 10 social media sites at present, and while Facebook is my favorite social media site by far, the rest of the social media sites are listed only very approximately in order of my personal preference.

  1. Facebook - I spend more time on Facebook than on all other social media sites combined. I use my Facebook profile for networking and my Facebook page, as well as those of my place of business and my clients, for marketing and for community building. I also participate in quite a few of the new Facebook groups.
  2. Ning - I use Ning for marketing and for community building. My favorite Ning social networking websites are the Small Business Network and My Linking Power Forum. I plan to launch more Ning sites in the future.
  3. LinkedIn - I use LinkedIn strictly for business networking and have more than 4,000 direct connections. You may add me to your network using the email address in my LinkedIn profile.
  4. Twitter - I manage a number of Twitter business accounts using my Tweet Adder software. My main account is @larrybrauner. I share lots of links on Twitter and monitor each account for mentions and replies.
  5. StumbleUpon - Of all the social media sites listed, StumbleUpon is the one that generates the most web traffic. I’ve already shared more than 700 web pages through my StumbleUpon account. Share as many good web pages as you can and categorize them well.
  6. Business Exchange - I use my account at Business Exchange to share business content and to rub elbows with the information elite. Occasionally, I receive large bursts of traffic from this bookmarking site.
  7. Amplify - I share content as often as I can on Amplify, partly for the Amplify community and partly for the dofollow links this micro-blogging site provides.
  8. Posterous - Ditto for my micro-blog on Posterous.
  9. Delicious - Content on Delicious is often picked up and linked-to by other sites. Use tags correctly, with hyphens or underscores between the words in your keyword phrases for best results. I believe that it also helps content to get indexed quickly by the search engines.
  10. Digg - I use Digg for pretty much the same benefits as Delicious.

Now it’s your turn. Which social media sites do you like and why? :-)

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Larry BraunerYesterday, May 4, 2010, was a very sad day for social media and Web 2.0. We all suffered a tremendous loss.  Yesterday was the day that Ning died.

No, Ning, the company, did not die; Ning, the company, is still very much alive, and many Ning social networking sites are alive as well, looking forward to upcoming Ning changes this July.

However, yesterday, Ning, the concept, was laid to rest.

A preliminary autopsy all but ruled out foul play. It suggested instead that perhaps too much user abuse and too little user engagement aggravated the Ning concept and hastened its sad demise.

Ning Social Networking SitesThe Ning concept was beautiful and elegant, a network of social networks.

Not only were contributions of social network end users Web 2.0 content, the individual social networks themselves were Web 2.0 content within the Ning meta social network.

The Ning concept leaves behind thousands of Ning social network creators seeking new homes. Many homes are ready to take them in but cannot accommodate them to the extent that Ning and the late Ning concept had accommodated them in the past.

Nevertheless, bereaved Ning social network creators who loved the Ning concept maintain hope for the future.

Ning concept, 2007-2010, rest in peace. :-(

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The Global Map of the Social Web, newly published by Trendstream, illustrates country-by-country the already enormous Web 2.0 footprint.

Not surprisingly, the rapid increase in social media usage has generated a corresponding increase in blogs, videos, photos and other social media content.

For you and me as social media consumers, our choices seem endless. New content is created at a daunting rate. Conversely, as content producers, we find it more and more difficult to penetrate the growing social media clutter.

This competition among sites and content will further intensify over time. We therefore need to find ways to compensate and stay consistently in front of our intended audiences. Here are eight ideas that can help:

  1. Build a Large Web Presence - Search engines and plain old geometry will work on your behalf. The better you do in the search engines and the more social media territory you can effectively cover, the more exposure you will receive, both in reach and frequency.
  2. Leverage Multiple Traffic Sources - Using many traffic sources will help you create a large web presence, and you’ll benefit in other ways too. Read Looking for Traffic in All the Wrong Places.
  3. Develop Relationships - Engage with those who engage with you. Not only will they keep coming back, but so will the people who enjoy the conversation but remain silent. Focus on helping by letting people vent or by providing helpful information. Be social!
  4. Offer Many Ways for Friends to Subscribe or Follow - People will naturally connect through more than one info stream. E.g., I’ve set up a blogcast, an RSS feed, a Twitter account, a Facebook page and profile, a NetworkedBlogs page, my own Ning site, a LinkedIn profile, a Business Exchange profile, a BlogCatalog group, and half a dozen other ways to keep in touch. Each one has throughput of one to ten percent, but collectively they all add up. That’s how social media list building needs to work. An RSS feed alone is insufficient.
  5. Be Reliable and Consistent - Do what you say you’re going to do, and publish new content as consistently as possible. Being somewhat predictable will help people get to know you and will build trust.
  6. Promote Others - Say good things about your readers, link to their content, and link to the content of others in your industry. Be a team player. Goodwill is an invaluable asset.
  7. Focus - Don’t spread yourself too thin by trying to be everything to everybody or by trying to be active on many social networking sites. Concentrate on communicating your brand and message to your intended audience.  Get the most you can from the time and effort you invest.
  8. Collaborate - Strategic alliances and synergies are a big part of my plan for 2010, and perhaps they ought to be part of your plan too.

How do you penetrate social media clutter?

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Since Twitter Lists Beta Observations and Tips one month ago, Twitter completed the roll out of Twitter Lists to all its users.

Twitter members have been occupied with building and following lists, while the pundits have been occupied with observing and dissecting them (the lists of course, not the members). :-P

Twitter ListsThe reaction in the blogosphere has been somewhat mixed. 9 Reasons Why You Should Be In Love with Twitter Lists (RotorBlog) was very upbeat. Twitter Lists Are Not About Discovery (Regular Geek) was more skeptical.

A new social media site, Listorious, has surfaced to helps us discover Twitter lists for categories which are important to us. How splendid this is! I’ll explain why.

Realizing the Potential of Web 2.0

Twitter comes along and lets anybody who’s connected to the Net (even a bot) create a user account and add text messages (tweets) to the Twitter message stream. Simultaneously, Twitter lets users subscribe to messages in the Twitter stream.

Twitter is a good example of Web 2.0, i.e. people creating and sharing web content.

Twitter becomes popular. Millions of messages from millions of people start flowing downstream. The social media community asks, “How will all these messages be organized?”

Twitter responds, permitting users to create and share lists of Twitter users. These Twitter lists are another form of Web 2.0 content. The community wonders, “How will all these lists be organized?”

Listorious appears, and using the Twitter API,  provides a platform for users to create and share Twitter meta lists (lists of Twitter lists). These meta lists are yet more Web 2.0 content.

Suddenly, we’re realizing the potential of Web 2.0, the social web, on a large scale. We’re creating, sharing and organizing our own web of information.

How I Use Twitter Lists

I use Twitter Lists both to organize people I find on Twitter and to discover new people.

I have 20 Twitter lists of my own, some private, to which I assign people, and I explore Twitter and Listorious to find new lists of Twitter people.

For example, I like lists of public relations people and companies, because in many ways, my skills are a strong match for PR firms. I let Twitter lists help me locate and connect with organizations and people working in the PR and communications industry.

When I find a list I like, I follow it. I certainly don’t want to lose track of it. I assign many people in the list to my own lists too.

I also follow most of the people. I hope that they’ll check out my blog and decide to follow me back. Perhaps they’ll even subscribe while they’re here.

In Conclusion

The way Twitter Lists have greatly extended the functionality of Twitter is cool. So is the way that Twitter Lists fit nicely into Web 2.0 social media paradigm. Critics can say what they wish about Twitter lists but cannot diminish their usefulness to me (and to my readers).

Okay. We’ve reached the point in the post where you usually comment. ;-)

What do you like or dislike about Twitter Lists? How would you improve them if you were Twitter?  What are some of your favorite Twitter lists?

Follow @larrybrauner on Twitter. :-)

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Larry BraunerThroughout history social networking has been practiced at religious institutions, business associations, conventions, membership clubs and yes, pubs.

The ancient Babylonian Talmud describes the Great Synagogue of Alexandria which was destroyed during the reign of the Roman Emperor Trajan roughly 1900 years ago. This synagogue was one of the most magnificent edifices ever built.

When a poor person entered, he would recognize masters of his trade, and he would turn to them. That is how he would support himself and his family.

The Babylonian Talmud itself appears to be an early example of social media. It was compiled with source material, interpretations and arguments from notable scholars living in different places and in different periods of time.

I wouldn’t be surprised to discover plenty of additional examples from other religions and cultures.

Coming back to the present, all of us are familiar with social networking at parties, the work place or business mixers. Aren’t we?

How about public bulletin boards? They’re a common form of social media. People tack up or tape notices on them.

Letters to the editor turn pages of newspapers and magazines into social media.

What is new is Web 2.0, social networking sites and other social media sites. The advent of online social networking and online social media has revolutionized social networking, social marketing and publishing.

Online social networking and social media are global. They’re instantaneous. The “paper” and “postage” are essentially free. The “playing field” is level.

Now that’s real freedom of speech.

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Larry Brauner

On a My Private Classroom private member conference call last week Diane Hochman reported a major downturn in the effectiveness of social media sites.

Diane pointed to social networking sites such as Facebook, micro-blogging sites such as Twitter and video sharing sites such as YouTube, but she inferred that all online social media were losing their edge.

Diane expressed concern that while top Web 2.0 and Internet marketing players like Mike Dillard and Frank Kern had successfully carved out huge niches and were earning millions, lower echelon marketers are hard pressed to compete with them, with the technical automate-everything gurus, and with the ever increasing online clutter of spammers and hackers.

Diane even went as far as to recommend that we focus on offline marketing.

I agree to some extent with Diane’s assessment. Certainly with most of the “low hanging fruit” gone and with the global recession in full force, a social marketing approach based on

  • free information and training
  • funded proposals
  • back end upsell
  • strong prospecting posture
  • amassing and leveraging a large quantity of Facebook friends, Twitter followers, and YouTube videos

might not work as well as it did in the past and is probably not the best way to go. People are ultra-careful today about parting with money.

However, I do not believe than social media marketing is losing its edge.

Going forward social marketing will depend more upon investing long term in our relationships with the people we meet through online social networking and creative use of websites and a variety of social media.

We’ll adopt a go-giver posture, thinking about solving problems and giving more than we take, as much as we think about prospecting and the bottom line.

We’ll also rely on written content and SEO as much as we rely on social media and online social networking strategy.

And, just as Diane Hochman recommends, we’ll network and market offline too. We’ll get more personal with people.

We’ll be all around networkers and marketers… and fine compassionate human beings.

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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.

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Larry BraunerBusiness Week in their June 2, 2008 cover story, Beyond Blogs, confessed that three years earlier when they wrote, Blogs Will Change Your Business, they completely missed the larger Web 2.0 social media trend that was emerging.

Business Networking Sites

While blogs have indeed transformed business, politics and publishing, online social networking at social networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook, and Linked In have impacted an even greater cross-section of businesses and people.

Many businesses have created their own in-house social networking sites to encourage and support staff collaboration.

Social Media Sites

YouTube, a site where regular people post their videos, has challenged the dominance of television in the entertainment and news industries.

Wikipedia, an encyclopedia developed and maintained by users, and wikis in general, have revolutionized the way people work together and share information.

Twitter, a micro-blogging site, lets people and businesses communicate in 140-character chunks called “tweets”.

Read the full article to better understand social media’s impact on marketing, management and collaboration in business today.

Time’s 2006 Person of the Year

One footnote: Time Magazine in their December 2006 cover story, Time’s Person of the Year: You, communicates the full impact and significance of our collective online collaboration called Web 2.0.

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Larry BraunerI launched this blog to share my passion for online social networking and my experiences at social networking sites.

I never intended to assemble a catalog. There are already too many good ones out there.

Mashable List of Social Networking Sites

Consider the Mashable list of 350+ social networking sites arranged by category with a brief description of each site. It’s very well done.

Or consider the Go2Web20 complete Web 2.0 social media directory. What an undertaking!

I will from time to time point you to such lists and meta-sites to stimulate your interest and facilitate your research.

List of Social Networking Sites for Business Networking

For business networking sites, I recommend Most Popular Social Networking and Business Networking Sites. This is a short list of popular business networking venues.

You can also find helpful information and resources on the sidebar of this blog.

I will continue to focus on writing thought-provoking articles and sharing my ideas about social media marketing, social networking sites and personal development.

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Larry BraunerGoogle™ Larry Brauner and you’ll find several pages of entries that pertain to me. A dozen entries or so link to profile pages in various social networking sites.  Several of them link to pages in this blog.

In a recent post I listed ”web presence” as one of the Top Reasons Why I Blog. Blogging is a marvelous way to build a web presence.

What about online social networking?

We think of social networking sites as places to meet, network and communicate with people. This is true.

But consider this: Online social networking sites are hosts to personal profiles. These profiles showcase you to fellow networkers, and at the same time they build your Internet presence, Web 2.0 social media style.

You can join a practically unlimited number of social networking sites and post your profile. Many of them will let you link to your blog or other favorite website.

Social networking software of your own may also be an option to consider.  With social network software, you control and customize your own social networking site as you wish.

In any case, post a social networking profile that “brands” you. Do not post blatant advertisements.

I close with a note of caution: Don’t try networking actively on more than one or two social networking sites. You’ll spread yourself too thin and fail to develop the credibility and key relationships you’re looking for.

Please subscribe and join me on my Facebook page.

You may also leave me a comment. :-)

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