The idea of using social networking to drive marketing efforts is increasingly being appropriated by corporate giants like Starbucks.
Yet it has always seemed to me to be inherently more appropriate for SMBs. After all, it's just a high-tech extension of the kind of word-of-mouth advertising (or viral, in today's terms) that has traditionally served SMBs so well. SMBs also tend to be less concerned about spin control than their larger counterparts, and there's really no place for spin in social networking.
As I've written before, SMBs are showing more interest in creating a presence on Facebook and other interactive marketing efforts. But it can be tough to keep up on all of the various social media outlets, with new ones springing up all the time. So it was nice to see a handy list of eight such outlets on SearchEngineWatch, complete with pros and cons for each.
Among the article's tips: Because Digg's algorithm now increasingly favors larger and better-known Web sites, SMBs may do better on Propeller. Though YouTube won't prompt folks to link to your site, it can generate significant traffic through search engine results and also attract the interest of key influencers.
More general advice: SMBs need to evaluate how much time and money they can spare to work with social media themselves or with outside marketing specialists. Determine your marketing goals (direct sales, brand building, etc.) at the outset. Consider the complexity of your product/service; the more complex the offering, the harder it is to convey on social media.
The article also reviews some of the advantages of social media: generating links, which improves search engine results; generating direct sales; forging relationships with folks that can influence buyers; and building a company's authority within an industry.