How many social networking sites are there? Does anyone really know? How in the world are we supposed to know which ones to join? Sure, we should probably join the major ones that pop into most everyone’s mind (Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Twitter just to name a few) but what about sites like Biz Sugar, Blog Engage and Triberr? Aren’t those important social networking sites too? How do you determine which sites fit best into your social media strategy?
The Number of Social Networking Sites out There
Out of curiosity, I searched to see if anyone claimed to know how many social networking sites there are today. As expected, I did not find a definitive answer. I decided that the best resource for this piece of information may be to go directly to KnowEm.com.
KnowEm has been tracking social networking sites since April of 2009. This company was founded to help individuals and companies secure their name across multiple Social Media networks and to help protect their brand. On KnowEm.com, you can check to see if your username is available on the most popular social networking sites for free. Then, you can register for the ones that you want to join.
As an alternative, you can sign up for one of four different plans ranging from $69.95 to $649. (The plans include sign-up, email confirmation and uploading your photo and bio for you. The least expensive plan includes 25 networks and the Enterprise plan includes 300 networks.) They also offer a brand protection program (for an additional $59.95) where they will secure your user name on new sites for you.
According to KnowEm, their database includes over 550 popular social networking sites. So, for the sake of this article, let’s assume that there are at least that many sites. So how do you get started and how can you not quickly become overwhelmed?
Tips on Getting Started with Social Media
1.) Choose Your User Name: Since your username is a big part of your brand, you’ll want to make sure that you’re selecting a unique username. Start by going to KnowEm.com and search to see if your username is available. (Keep in mind that Twitter only allows up to 15 characters for your username.)
2.) Register your username on the most popular networking sites that you’re familiar with and on those sites that are specific to your niche. (Even if you have no intention of being active on a site, reserving your name prevents someone else from reserving it.)
3.) Set up your globally recognized Avatar at Gravatar.com. (This is free and easy to do. Simply register the email address that you will use to comment, the URL of your website and upload your profile pic. Whenever you leave a comment, your pic will appear. That’s it.)
You’ll also want to create a keyword rich profile on all of the social media sites that you join. I think it’s a good idea to keep track of which sites you’ve joined and what profile you used. Since I’m a bit of a spreadsheet addict, I maintain this info in an Excel spreadsheet. That way, if I refine my profile, I can easily see which sites I need to tweak.
The Case for Creating multiple Social Media Profiles
Leora Wenger has an interesting post on her blog titled New to Social Media? Understand the Challenges. The guest author, Carlo Pandian, addresses the issues of deciding which sites to join and how to manage your time. (There’s a lively discussion going on in the comment section too).
In the comment I left for Leora, I suggested that it’s a good idea to reserve your username and create a profile on several social media sites – whether or not you have any intention of ever being active there. My reasons for recommending this include:
- Reserving your username protects your brand. (If you don’t reserve your username, someone else can.)
- A site may not fit your strategy now but either the site and/or your social media strategy could change in the future. (For example, you may decide to start a business or blog in a new niche and those potential customers/clients may be very active in networks you never thought you’d be active on. So, why not reserve your name now?)
- A site that you can join for free today may turn into a membership site in the future. (It’s not uncommon for these sites to grandfather early adopters.)
- Being a member of a social network can add to your social proof. (When I join a new site, I’ll often look to connect with people who regularly share my content.)
- Your site profile has the potential of being do-follow.
Over to You
Which social media sites do you actively participate on? Do you agree that it’s a good idea to reserve your username and create a profile on multiple social networking sites? What are your top 3 sources of referral traffic? (Last month, mine were Twitter, StumbleUpon and BizSugar with Twitter driving three times more visits than the #2 and #3 sources.) Lastly, LinkedIn is my favorite social networking site for building mutually beneficial relationships. While it doesn’t make my top three sources of referral traffic, I can attest that many of my clients first met me there.