Southern Maine Social Media FirmThere is no doubt that social media marketing has taken the lead in marketing online strategies. Social media sites have exploded and continue to grow in number and popularity. If you own an online business, it can be very difficult to know where to begin in this extensive marketing arena.

There are dozens and dozens of social sites and more popping up all the time. I have compiled a list of the ten best social sites with which to get you started. I have chosen these sites by my own professional opinion and by actual popularity.

1. Facebook – Facebook has an estimated 850 million users! This is the most popular social site and my favorite as well. Facebook is very versatile in what you can do with your page. Be sure to open a business account and also read the rules for businesses. Fill out your profile completely. Add images and videos to your page to make it more interesting and interactive. Visit your page every day and post helpful information, links and resources. Answer all comments promptly.

2. Twitter – Twitter has 200 million estimated active users. I like Twitter because it is quick, easy and effective for marketing your business. You simply add tidbits of information, new product info, sales and/or specials, links, motivational quotes, etc. and tweet! Keep your tweets professional and beneficial to your followers. Don’t tweet things like what you’re having for dinner or what movie you just watched. Get involved with other tweeters and participate!

3. LinkedIn – LinkedIn now has over 150 million estimated users. The thing I like about LinkedIn is how you can participate in groups that interest you or will benefit your business. Join groups and be sure to participate in the discussions by offering real and helpful information and advice. Follow their guidelines on how to completely and effectively fill out your profile.

4. Google+ – Google+ is one of the newer social sites, but it already has an estimated 65 million users! I must admit, I have not done much with Google+ as of yet, but I do like the format and versatility of the site. Be sure to add the +1 Google feature to your website so people can click it to show they like your site. This will help you in the ratings. Again, be sure to complete your profile and spend time daily or at least weekly on your Google+ page.

5. Pinterest – With over 10 million active users, Pinterest is growing in popularity very quickly. Pinterest has come up with something a little different. You are given a pinboard to add visual items such as photos, graphs, videos, etc. Pinning helpful visual information is a great way to attract people to your pinboard. You can add comments as well. People respond more to visual items than just words so get over to Pinterest and start pinning!

6. Ecademy – Ecademy has over 17 million users. Ecademy is a membership site for business owners to connect, help and grow with one another. There are paid and frée memberships. Take the time to build relationships with other business owners. You can start your ówn clubs, write blog posts, and participate in discussions. This site is more involved than some social sites and will take more time to learn to use effectively.

7. YouTube – YouTube has an estimated 300 million users. YouTube is a video sharing site. Making an effective marketing video to share on YouTube can have a dramatic effect on your site traffic. Show your expertise with instructional and informational videos. You can also present slide shows to market your products and/or services. Set up an account and start uploading those business growing videos.

8. StumbleUpon – Despite a “stumble” in growth, StumbleUpon is now growing in popularity and has an estimated 20 million users. StumbleUpon is a social site that allows the users to share interesting and helpful websites. You will need to be an active user to reap the benefits from this site.

9. Ryze – With less than a million members, Ryze is not the most popular of the social networking sites but it can be effective. Ryze is similar to LinkedIn in that it is a place for professionals to grow, connect and help one another succeed. Join networks that target your business and network with other business owners.

10. Blogs – Blogs are very popular social sites and there are lots of them. Search for blogs that target your niche and become active with guest posts, comments, etc. Participating on blogs can help you make connections and get traffic you might not have gotten. Also, if you do not have your blog yet, be sure to get started. I would recommend WordPress, but there are other blog services available.

If you are a business owner, you really cannot avoid social media in this marketing age. So rather than ignore it, you need to study it, learn it and participate in it. Once you do, you will find it to be a very enjoyable and beneficial experience!