Online Marketing Blog

Should You Jump Into Social Networks to Promote Your Business?

There’s a lot of buzz in the online PR world about social networking, whether that be traditional social networks like Myspace and Facebook or social networking through microblogging services such as Twitter.

Should you jump into social networking to promote your business? And if so, with so many options available, how do you choose which social networks to participate in?

Benefits of Social Networking

I’m not much of a supporter of diving into every new or large social networking environment or fad to promote a business. However, social networks do have some benefits that make them worth considering as an addition to your online PR efforts:

1. Social networks and microblogging services can serve multiple roles with a single tool. For example, you can network with colleagues, while also promoting offers or information to clients and potential clients of your company.

2. Social networking is cost-effective. Most networks are free to join.

3. Social networks and microblogging services can help you get news or a message out very quickly to a targeted audience.

Problems with Social Networking

Despite its benefits, there are also some drawbacks to social networking for promoting a business.

1. Social networking can be a productivity killer. Many businesses simply try to do too much – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Myspace, etc. The multiple updates aren’t always reaching different audiences, and it’s a waste of time that could be spent elsewhere if you’re simply targeting the same groups with the same messages, but in different locations.

2. It’s easy to get too personal, or too off-topic, when social networking, Twittering, etc. You may divulge more information than you wanted to (or than you should), and once you’ve said it, you can’t take it back. The instant gratification factor also makes it easier to communicate without thinking things through; contributing to negative “Web wars” at times.

3. The bulk of the population still hasn’t embraced these technologies, meaning your target audiences may not yet be well-represented there.

Choosing Social Networking Services for Your Needs

There are good things about social networking for PR. There are negative things as well. So how can you strike a happy balance? How do you choose the best social media communication tools for your business, without over-extending your resources to reach only a small portion of your audience?

1. Target, target, target! It doesn’t matter what the largest social network is if your specific audience isn’t represented there. Niche social networking tools may be a far better option than simply going with networks that always seem to be getting the buzz. For example, no network yet beats Myspace for promoting to musicians. If you’re trying to reach an adult audience as opposed to teens, you may be better off using a service like If you want to network with other professionals in your industry, LinkedIn might serve your needs more effectively. There are also smaller social networks targeted to very specific niches (webmasters, photographers, etc.). There’s no reason to try to “do it all.”

2. Understand the numbers. Don’t join a social network simply because they say they have X number of members. Those numbers mean absolutely nothing. What you should care about is not the total membership, but instead the “active” membership (and those specifically within your target audience – it goes back to targeting).

3. Get to know a network’s policies on promotion, as it applies to your plans. The last thing you want is to be labeled a spammer. Understand that these tools are more about networking, building relationships, and communicating than blatant promotion, as in marketing and sales.

No matter how deep you decide to delve into social networking and / or microblogging, always make sure you’re making the best use of your time, and reaching your intended targets.

  1. Schmoozii Says:
    July 6th, 2008 at 8:28 am

    Stick to sites targeted at professionals such as Linkedin, Schmoozii, Xing, and Konnects. These networks focus on professionals and the members there expect to be contacted about business related products.

    If you aren’t targeting professionals, then I wouldn’t recommend using social networking sites to promote your product. Most of the users are there for socializing and it may be counter productive spending time to approach people that are looking for friends.

  2. mrpurple Says:
    July 6th, 2008 at 10:38 am

    I completely agree with the section Problems with Social Networking!

    1. Spot on with this point, it’s a very easy trap to fall into due to the addictiveness of these sites.

    2. I’ve experienced this point myself on twitter. You begin with twittering about SEO and interacting with other SEO’s then all of a sudden you start posting the football score or that your kettle has just boiled!

    Good post!

  3. Simon Says:
    July 6th, 2008 at 9:11 pm

    There are now thousands of social networks that cater to a whole variety of subjects. These smaller, focused sites allow users to connect with like-minded people and give advertisers targeted demographics. Niche social networks are also good for marketers who have a product or service they want to promote that relates to a particular interest.

  4. Gina Says:
    July 7th, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    I definitely agree with you on finding your target audience. It’s so easy to get caught up in EVERY social network out there. I did that not too long ago and ended up wasting a lot of my time. I took a step back, figured out where my target audience hangs out, picked the best 4 or 5 sites where they frequent, and stay active/focused on those instead of EVERY single site out there. It’s really helped get the word out about Salesconx to the right people.

    Also, you’re correct about some target audiences not really being “online” yet. There is no “big” Myspace-type site for salespeople (and there may never be), so it’s been difficult for me to find them for the Salesconx marketplace.

    It’s going to take some time and LOTS of effort to find new sellers for the site (as expected) but I’m confident (and excited) about the outcome for us and other small businesses utilizing social networks to promote.

    Marketing Manager

  5. Blogingismylife Says:
    July 8th, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    Ilike our tips , Thx for social networks tips

  6. Professional SEO Consultant Says:
    July 8th, 2008 at 7:44 pm

    You make some great points in this post. I think that too many businesses try to jump on the social media bandwagon and often miss the mark because they are not approaching it the right way.

    I also believe that there are two different goals one can have in mind when launching a social media campaign, boosting SEO by obtaining links or creating buzz/brand awareness. And depending on which one you are after you need to take different approach. Of course the true masters of social media marketing (and there are not alot of them) can achieve both at the same time. But I also think that you need to have the right type of business to do so with social media.

  7. Joe Says:
    July 10th, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    How does one promote one’s business (or web site) on twitter? Maybe I’m still in the box ’cause I don’t see it.

  8. Jennifer Mattern Says:
    July 10th, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    “If you aren’t targeting professionals, then I wouldn’t recommend using social networking sites to promote your product. Most of the users are there for socializing and it may be counter productive spending time to approach people that are looking for friends.”

    I actually disagree on this one. Social networks are highly effective for marketing certain types of products. For example, one of the first types of social media marketing was for musicians – it was effective early on and still is. I work with that group, as well as authors, and find that even for book promotion social networks can be great. At the same time you have things marketed towards the social network users (like Myspace graphics), and those marketing campaigns have been hugely successful in the past.

    It’s all about knowing your target, knowing where they are, and know how to motivate them or connect with them on as large a scale as possible.

  9. Earn money from net Says:
    July 13th, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    Social bookmarking sites especially onlywire is extraordinary in getting traffic in less than 24 hours.

  10. SOHO Prospecting Says:
    July 14th, 2008 at 6:38 am

    The best thing about Social Networks is that you can not only promote a product / service to a specific target market, but also evaluate what tey think about it. You can get tips about what your target wants and improve your business.

  11. Career Information Says:
    July 20th, 2008 at 5:46 am

    I think Schmoozii said it best…. The value from linkedin vs myspace is considerable…in that myspace is so obtuse that targeting anybody worth targeting is either incredibly hard or expensive…

  12. New Orleans SEO Says:
    July 24th, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    I find that social networks is way too time consuming and the results are usually poor. There are so many other ways to promote your business. Especially promoting an online business…

  13. Daniel Tetreault Says:
    July 29th, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    I definitely agree with your comments. I DO believe there is value in social networking with these various ‘social’ sites; however, I definitely agree that they are time consuming. These sites can be very ‘distracting’ on your main purpose or bottom line if not done properly.

    Daniel Tetreault.

  14. Ryan Liao Says:
    August 1st, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    Most of the time, traffic from social networks are no deeply targeted. With so many new social networks sites coming up, choosing your “list” of network sites to concentrate on could be a headache.

  15. Linda P. Morton Says:
    August 14th, 2008 at 3:55 am

    I just recently really started social networking when I finally found one that reaches my niche.

    I’m making some good contacts, but it does take loads of time. I am keeping track of my time spent on social networking and the people who visit my site from the contacts.

    I believe with any marketing, we have to know what we’re spending and what we’re getting back, so we can determine the return on investment for our time or money.

  16. Canadian Blogger Says:
    August 15th, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    I somewhat agree with you on this. Although it is best to identify the social networks that work best for your business, you can still use other networks for backlinks since a lot of them will offer you the opportunity to link your blog and rss feed to it.

  17. services à domicile Says:
    August 25th, 2008 at 9:34 am

    Promoting a web site in several social networks can take a lot of time.
    The ROI isn’t easy to evaluate…

  18. directory Says:
    August 26th, 2008 at 11:20 am

    Social media sites bring a quick burst of traffic, but how much of it is converting to actual sales? Most people and mainly going because of the information.

  19. SEO Toronto Says:
    September 5th, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    Social networks are a great free advertising resource that builds a solid foundation that brings a steady flow of traffic over time. I personally prefer steady traffic to high peaks of it. So it’s definitely a must for me!

  20. Intellionics Seo Services Says:
    September 19th, 2008 at 7:59 am

    Social Networks like twitter and facebook are really useful when it comes to promoting your brand. Even Digg is really useful when it comes to creating a name for your brand on the net.

    I think it is always a safe bet considering the number of users involved, there has to be a group of people interested in what you say.

  21. iChatIM Says:
    September 23rd, 2008 at 3:08 am

    yes, we can consider the social network site to promote our business. But we depend on them if they want to sign up or accept your invitation.

  22. social issues Says:
    October 1st, 2008 at 7:14 am

    networking on social media sites is a lot more work than it looks like folks – be prepaired for a long campaign and building traffic the slow way

  23. Cassandra Says:
    October 17th, 2008 at 5:44 am

    I used social networking specially stumble upon and gather, the advantage of it was, not only it’s free but also you can generate visitor on this social networking site and there is a chance that people will be interested of your services or product you are offering.

  24. search engine optimisation Says:
    October 19th, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    Interseting post. As you are a marketign expert, Can I ask you that what is the best internet marketing option? I would be grateful, if you guide me.

  25. Eco Friendly Products Says:
    October 24th, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    I completely agree with the article. Businesses should not go over their heads with social media. You have to understand that it’s about the same as traditional marketing. You are not going to advertise where you won’t be reached. It would be a waste of money. It’s same with social media. Pick your targeted network and work through them.

  26. Jim - registryfix review guy - Heald Says:
    November 1st, 2008 at 6:24 am

    I agree too with the problems of Social Networking. I have found that the time necissary to get good results in actual customers from them overwhealms the benefits. I think they can be fine for getting links, but I am still of the belief that organic Seo and link building is of higher value.

    I would be interested in actuall seeing some numbers from those who have used social networking as a primary marketing method.

    Good post

    – Jim

  27. Eugene Says:
    November 5th, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    In the first time I heard of it I was eager to use them, but later those sites like facebook, myspace seem to go into different way, and I don’t think they are usable

  28. Mr. Money Online Says:
    November 5th, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    Social networks became tools of the trade for internet marketers. I totally agree with targeting aspect. If you don’t know who gets your message then it whats the point. And if the message doesn’t work/convert it just becomes another piece of spam.
    I personaly find forums to be more rewarding for me, I can learn and interact at the same time. There is however a limited potential of geting your message across.
    One other good thing is business social networks. People in those networks may not become your customers but if you play things right you may find some tremendous opportunities and potential JV partners.

  29. Marc Beharry Says:
    November 6th, 2008 at 2:06 am

    I personally think it will be a necessity soon, so you might as well just jump in now, lol… while keeping the best practices in mind of course

  30. Roma Says:
    November 9th, 2008 at 7:22 pm

    I agree with Jim; social networks seem time consuming and from what I’ve read, it takes a lot of effort to get them working. I guess it depends on your business and how much time you have on your hands. I’m thinking the cons outweigh the pros for most.

  31. Zulu Internet Marketing Says:
    November 10th, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    The section detailing the problems with Social Networking is good, but I feel that if individuals or even companies wish to explore the potential to advertise through social networks, then the first thing they must do is understand whether their target audience is represented within the community or not. Surely if they continue down that road and spend a great deal of time Twittering etc then it is their problem.

    Good post though – and I agree with Jim, in general, I see more value in link building and organic seo, whilst Social Networking is only effective at times.

  32. Website Design Midlands Says:
    November 14th, 2008 at 9:48 am

    I completely agree with you, and these social network have been created keeping in mind all the advantages it has,, but unfortunately it has been wrongly used in many circumstances…

  33. Marko from Genius Solutions Says:
    December 13th, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    I personally do not like to promote through social networks. I do not know why but that always provokes aversion for me. I could try with those professional social networks.

    Thanks for helpful post.


  34. Faux Flowers Says:
    December 16th, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    Social networks are the best place to establish contacts and easier way to have conversations with people. But misuse have always existed, which is not good !

  35. Reyn Aria Says:
    December 17th, 2008 at 6:22 am

    Another problem with social networking sites is that there is no filter for quality. These user-generated contents are often annoyed or even abusive for many people.

  36. Ian Brodie | Sales Blogger Says:
    December 19th, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    Targeting is so difficult with social networks. It seems that all the high traffic networks are primarily for technology or entertainment news.

    We get a reasonable amount of targeted business traffic from bizsugar – but sites like stumbleupon and Digg tend to result in really high bouncebanks.

    For me, good old SEO and organic searches still win out as they’re far more targeted than social network traffic.


  37. White Widow Says:
    January 2nd, 2009 at 4:39 am

    I agree totally. Ive been contemplating how to approach social networking. There are seceral different social networking sites. And there is only one me. The worse thing I can do as an internet marketer is streach myself too thin. That being said it makes more sense to consolidate my efforts to one or two networks in particular. That way I can really get an oppertunity to connect with the community.

  38. Ariyes Says:
    January 4th, 2009 at 9:26 am


    Social networking is the best place to gather more friends and also some social network sites pay for anything we do!
    But most probably i dont choose social networking for my bussiness!

    thank you!

  39. Santa Cruz Day Care Says:
    January 5th, 2009 at 7:14 am

    I like your posting about social networks.I could clearly tell social networks having an important role in providing traffic to particular site.I have a strong belief on social networking.

  40. ted Says:
    January 5th, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    I have had some success with social networking sites. facebook and Myspace were not great for my line of business but hubpages and squidoo were. They generated some quality targetted hits and helped SEo with their backlinks.

    One piece of advic e- Hubpages wants quality and unique content – don’t just post up something you have on the net already..they will find out lol.

  41. Montan Says:
    January 8th, 2009 at 6:23 am

    You can really build a list from people in a social network..They tend to become very involved and I have seen some things that indicate that social networking improves a web sites traffic..

  42. Curt Says:
    January 12th, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    Marketing through social network has always been an effective way of gaining traffic but the above mentioned facts should always be taken into consideration.

  43. rahasia search engine Says:
    January 13th, 2009 at 8:21 am

    how about squidoo? and with help using seoquake can help increase our website to get higher PR but this article also interesting as a reference to use social network to promote website

  44. Ricky C Says:
    February 9th, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    I don recommend social network to promote your business instead try to use Social media. I have been trying to promote my business in some social media sites and i got a few question asking how is this actually works. Trust me social media is the best place to advertise, use social networks only to meet with new friend and don ever take an advantage over it

  45. kimmy san Says:
    February 15th, 2009 at 6:46 am

    I believe social networks are cheaper ways to promote your business. If you’re most likely the type of person to go and line and check friendster and myspace, you can always post bulletins and make catchy titles to attract your possible customers. Although I do believe that there is no assurance you’ll reach your target market but hey, its one option. Plus there’s no cost in maintaining them. are really good websites. You can post your articles in there to promote your site and you will know someone is reading it because they usually post comments especially when you join a group. This is one way to do quality promotion online.

    However, if you want fuzz-free promotion, friendster, myspace and other common social networking might help. Besides, from here your ad gets through by the word of mouth..

  46. Shaw Says:
    February 21st, 2009 at 5:36 am

    Once you’ve determined your business is ready to dive into social media, you’ll need a jump-start into the digital age and social networking with the wide variety of tools and software available.

  47. Rahul Jadhav Says:
    February 21st, 2009 at 11:33 am

    Social Networking sites are a great source of traffic. But for that we must build a good network on these sites. I get lots of traffic daily from Twitter

  48. Joseph Timothy Says:
    February 27th, 2009 at 7:42 am

    Ya! it is nice topic to discuss. People are using social networking sited for their online marketing for their products and companies. I don’t think it is right, it should be spam.

  49. LOCC - Tha Most Gangsta Says:
    March 1st, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    Once you’ve determined your business is ready to dive into social media, you’ll need a jump-start into the digital age and social networking with the wide.

  50. Research Papers Says:
    March 14th, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    I totally agree with the writer. but i think for entertainment sites like ringtone download, celebrity wallpapers etc. social media marketing is the best idea. but for other sites you should consider the factors mentioned in this post.

  51. Celeb News Says:
    March 21st, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    Social Networking can only get you so far in my opinion – unless you go viral that is. I personally love using Youtube for extra views. One of my videos has over 100,000 views. Anyway, Youtube and Google is where it’s at in my opinion.

  52. Link Builder Says:
    April 24th, 2009 at 10:38 pm

    I definitely agree with your comments. I DO believe there is value in social networking with these various ’social’ sites; however, I definitely agree that they are time consuming. These sites can be very ‘distracting’ on your main purpose or bottom line if not done properly.

  53. Mark Ress Says:
    May 5th, 2009 at 11:04 am

    Despite some public cynicism about social media marketing, companies have been quick to embrace the potential of this new medium. As with anything, there is a learning curve but an increasing number of companies are seeing plenty of opportunities in the social media marketing universe.

  54. Toronto SEO Says:
    May 13th, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    I use twitter and I have to say i find it pretty powerful if you use the right tools and the power of is just remarkable

  55. Clayton Shumway Says:
    July 1st, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    It’s true that there are so many different ways to promote your business…who will be the first to make a program to manage them all? For example, a dashboard to manage my facebook, myspace, twitter, digg, blogs…
    Is this what Google Wave is all about?

  56. Says:
    July 14th, 2009 at 3:52 am

    To answer Joe above… I have a WordPress plugin that automatically posts the title of my blog post along with a link to it on Twitter. It is called wp-to-twitter. I find it generates a large amount of traffic and over time as you get hundreds of followers it increases into massive amounts.

  57. Robert Maxim Websites Says:
    July 16th, 2009 at 4:25 am

    Be careful you don’t equate “traffic” with “customers”. You can spend a huge amount of your valuable time generating traffic that provides no material benefit. Like any marketing effort know who your target audience is and where they can be reached.

  58. Quality Website Design Says:
    July 17th, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    This is very great post.Now a days social network is very good site for website promotion.It increase traffic very speedy.

  59. Textbox Says:
    July 26th, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    Most companies understand that social networks are an untapped potential of new customers. It becomes a matter of how to market to these people without them feeling like they are being marketed to.

  60. kira kira Says:
    August 25th, 2009 at 4:47 am

    With the Internet being a money-spinner, people explore the different ways to expand online business. There is a versatile website providing valuable suggestions on how to increase business opportunities through social networking.

  61. Eric Rudolf Says:
    August 26th, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    The revenue-generating possibilities of Social Networking were, as you hint at in your article, completely overblown–and now, executives and marketing people are finally coming back down to earth. Social Networking was never meant to be a profit center, but rather a community building tool, and a way to dissemenate information to customers and potential customers. Nice work.

  62. Jamie Welsh Says:
    October 23rd, 2009 at 4:12 am

    Why not? Social network is also the same with the actual promoting of a business, except it’s done online. Since the majority of the world population is also online, it gives a wider audience for your business to get promoted. Plus, it’s time saving and most especially cost efficient.

  63. Ali Says:
    November 17th, 2009 at 12:25 am

    In addition twitter is not so bad a tool – when you know how to effectively use it.

  64. kmgtrex Says:
    November 19th, 2009 at 2:13 am

    Twitter is a fantastic tool if used properly and not as a spam blaster. As stated by others, the power of these social networks needs to be tempered by a careful eye on the time spent, or the ROI goes right out the window.

  65. Self Improvement Tips Guy Says:
    November 29th, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    I am finding that LinkedIn is a great source of networking conatacts and traffic. Gary Vaynerchuk goes into this topic at great length in his new book ‘Crush It’. Really changed my view of the power of social networking.

  66. Dave Davis Says:
    November 29th, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    Self Improvement Tips Guy, I couldn’t agree more. It’s a fantastic site/tool and an essential part of the mix.

    Have not read crush it yet but it’s on my Amazon wishlist, so fingers crossed this Xmas ;)

  67. Fairepartoo Says:
    December 1st, 2009 at 10:30 pm

    You’re definetely right about many points! Social Networks are clearly useful to generate a buzz, to develop potential prospects and to increase quickly and economically our customer’s network!

  68. Neil Says:
    December 22nd, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    The two BIG boys (Facebook & Twitter) are fine and dandy for general social networking, but like others have implied, a more targeted Ning network or Forum is more appealing to me and that’s where most of “strong” relationships come from and where I discuss their Social Media techniques and strategies

  69. Blogger Says:
    January 24th, 2010 at 4:21 am

    Yes social networking is good especially if one is connected with many members interested with what you have to say or offer. And with this you can easily convert these people into traffic to your site.

    Also lets not forget about social bookmarking because this is a power traffic gaining strategy.

  70. barbie oyunlari Says:
    February 3rd, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    I completely agree with the section Problems with Social Networking!

    1. Spot on with this point, it’s a very easy trap to fall into due to the addictiveness of these sites.

    2. I’ve experienced this point myself on twitter. You begin with twittering about SEO and interacting with other SEO’s then all of a sudden you start posting the football score or that your kettle has just boiled!

    Good post!

  71. Cambridge Who's Who Says:
    February 5th, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    This is a great article Social networking is a great way to increase traffic to your business. The author is correct. There are a lot of benefits to using social networking, however if you do it incorrectly there are also some problems. If you own a business you should definitely take a look at a networking site.

  72. Social Network Software Says:
    February 9th, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    “There are now thousands of social networks that cater to a whole variety of subjects. These smaller, focused sites allow users to connect with like-minded people and give advertisers targeted demographics.”

    Very well said, there is also the benefit or reduced market research costs for business that create their own custom social networking sites. By allowing your target market to gather and interact directly with your business you can test marketing ideas while creating a closer relationship with your audience.

  73. seo updates Says:
    March 25th, 2010 at 10:03 am

    In this article there are sufficient information about social networks and you also provide pros & cons.
    thanks for share

  74. Kevin Tan Says:
    July 16th, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    Jennifer I totally agree with the drawbacks of social media. I always try to stress to people it’s not just “networking” but “network marketing.” It’s a powerful tool but you have to be extremely focused.

  75. KPO Says:
    July 19th, 2010 at 7:03 am

    Handling your business cards for the purpose of promoting business and improving social networking is the thing of the past. With internet taking place for all types of businesses, people nowadays rely on social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and LinkedIn to promote their business and brands. The interesting fact is that these sites are an excellent tool for promoting your products and reaching out to wide audience as these are free to use, are available throughout the world and also lets you tell the world about your business quickly, easily, and effectively.


  76. Angelique Says:
    January 11th, 2011 at 7:01 am

    Social Networks has changed how customers connect with companies and how companies deliver results based on the users’ needs and how users interact with each other. Even so, there are still some companies who continue to advertise their business using the old system. Maybe becuase, social media has no specific advantages. Social media generally catches the attention of most people; utilization and connection totally relies in the user who decided to do so. If your efforts are that not enticing or does not have the appealing charm it will not be successful and that what makes it more challenging.

  77. Kudos Says:
    October 24th, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    I realize this is an old post – but it’s amazing to me to go back even as far as 2008 and see how much things have changed since then. It’s not a question of “Should” anymore, it’s a question of “WHEN?”. The fact is, your target market IS on social networks somewhere. An appropriate strategy and approach is all that’s missing – and the determination to do it.