The Best Social Media Sites for Business

What follows is an overview of the best social media sites for marketing your business:

Jigsaw
— This is essentially an online business-card swapping Web site for salespeople. You upload the contact information for business people you know, and in return you earn points that allow you to download contact information for new sales prospects. With 700,000 users, you’re bound to land some promising new leads. (Spoke offers a similar service.)


LinkedIn
— With more than 38 million members, this is the world’s largest networking site for business professionals. Interact online with business colleagues, clients and former classmates. Get personal introductions to the people and businesses you want to do business with (a more effective alternative to cold-calling). Get answers to your business and marketing questions from professionals in the know. Get recommendations for preferred service providers (and become a recommended resource yourself).

Yelp — An online peer-review site that attracts an average of 10 million users every month. Create a professional profile for your business, then wait for customers and clients to post reviews of your products or service. With every positive review, your profile rises in the rankings and attracts all-new clients and customers. (Google Maps, CitySearch and Tribe offer similar services.)

Blogger — Credited with helping to popularize the blog format, this service makes it easy for any business professional to create a blog of their own. Once a blogger, you can attract attention by offering tips and insights, commenting on industry happenings, and more. Plus, blogs allow you to gather honest feedback directly from clients and customers. (Type Pad, Word Press, and Live Journal all offer similar services.)

Twitter — This micro-blogging service allows business professionals to post very short (no more than 140 characters) company updates and industry insights for the quick-reading pleasure of clients and customers, as well as prospective clients and customers.

Facebook and MySpace — Both of these web sites sutarted out as places for people to socialize online after-hours, but now they’re also used by businesses (to communicate with customers, generate word-of-mouth buzz and attract all-new customers and clients). Both are by far the most popular of all the social-media tools. (Bebo, Orkut, ClassMates and Friendster all offer similar services.)

Not sure where to start? Keep reading and we’ll explain the easiest ways to kick-off a social media marketing campaign, plus how to integrate it with your existing marketing efforts.