Getting started with social networks

Since last October (when we asked rhetorically "Social Networking – what’s it all about?") we've fielded a lot of enquiries about Internet social networking and how exactly such services can help small businesses and their operators. We've found some great resources at UK site Marketing Donut for getting started using online social networking to help you as individuals, to drive sales, and to form stronger relationships with your customers.

LinkedIn is a free business-focused networking platform that seeks to replicate the ‘real-life’ process of word-of-mouth introductions between trusted contacts. It has a global reach, with 8.5 million members, and straddles a great many industries and sectors.

Get started with LinkedIn

Facebook is a free networking website which enables friends to keep in touch with each other by acting as a hub for a range of online social activities. ‘Friends’ - ie people who opt into each other’s networks — can post short ‘status updates’ about what they are doing or feeling, share photos and videos, recommend other websites, leave messages on message boards, have ‘real time’ online conversations, and much more besides.

Get started with Facebook

Twitter is a free online ‘micro-blogging’platform that enables you to send punchy messages (‘tweets’) to other Twitter users. Messages are limited to just 140 characters and can be read by anybody else on Twitter, even if they are initially directed at members of your personal network (your ‘followers’).

Get started with Twitter

So what are you waiting for? Jump in!