Social media being a fairly recent phenomenon, some marketers still have yet to dip their toes in the social media river. This post is intended to help newcomers get started in the social media world. There are many social sites out there; however, the following 5 should be a part of any social media marketing plan. The following is a synopsis of the author’s 5 favorite social media sites; an in-depth blog relating to each of these sites will follow.

Twitter: Follow Me!

Twitteris at the forefront of the current social media craze. If you do not already have a twitter account, you need to get one right now and you can do that here (Ok you can finish reading this post first).

Twitter is a very unique platform in that it is sort of like a combination of blogging and instant messaging. The purpose of twitter is to answer one simple question. What are you doing right now? Here is the way it works. You find other people to follow on twitter and you can see their tweets (status updates) in real time, and other people can follow you and see your tweets (status updates), also in real time. Tweets are simply short phrases that answer the simple question: “what are you doing right now?”

The best idea is to follow people with similar interests. So, when you read other people’s tweets it will be information that is relevant to your interests, and vice versa. It is a good idea to tweet information that other people will find either informative or entertaining, rather than just saying what you’re actually doing all the time.

I.e. if you are elephant hunting and you just took down a huge elephant with your elephant gun. “I just took down a HUGE elephant with my new elephant gun!” (Tweet!)

would make a great tweet! OK so what if you are not elephant hunting all the time? Well that is ok but the point is keep your tweets either informative or entertaining so people will want to read them. If you start tweeting stuff like “I just ate a bowl of cereal and it was delicious!” (tweet) People will eventually stop reading your tweets. Also it’s a good idea to not tweet only your own links. Occasionally you should tweet your own stuff, but you want to also tweet articles etc from other sources that people will find informative or entertaining, so people will see you as a worthy resource rather than a spammer and then they will gladly read when you post one of your own links. It’s ok to self promote on twitter but don’t over do it. That being said once you have your twitter account set up, feel free to follow me on twitter!

StumbleUpon: Discover Your Web

Stumble UponStumbleUpon is a great way to generate sudden qualified traffic to a website or blog or anything else that you might publish to the web. In addition to being a great social platform it is also a great way to discover new content and ideas from the web. StumbleUpon’s purpose as stated on their home page is to allow you to

“[discover] web sites based on your interests. Whether it’s a web page, photo or video, our personalized recommendation engine learns what you like, and brings you more.”

I’ll elaborate on this a bit. Basically you set up a profile and during this process you tell StumbleUpon what your areas of interest are. Once you have finished this process you install the StumbleUpon toolbar. There is a little button on your browser bar now that says stumble. You simply click this button and it delivers a website, video or some other web content from one of your areas of interest. Now you will also have a little thumbs up and thumbs down icon on your StumbleUpon toolbar and you simply click thumbs up when you like the content that is delivered or thumbs down when you dislike the content you see. This helps StumbleUpon learn to deliver better quality content that you’re more likely to enjoy. OK, you’re probably thinking “this sounds like a search engine or something, how is this going to help my social marketing efforts?” Let me explain.

StumbleUpon allows you to search for, and connect with, other users with similar interests. So, you can share websites with them, you can subscribe to other users and other users can subscribe to you. You can visit other stumblers, visit their blogs, and stumble their favorites. The best part is you can also add and review sites that have not yet been put into the StumbleUpon database. This can sometimes generate some very good sudden qualified traffic for a new blog or website as other users stumble the new entry. Once you have set up your StumbleUpon profile and installed your stumble toolbar you can connect with me here Gerald Weber’s StumbleUpon

LinkedIn: Connect With Others

If you don’t already have a LinkedIn account you can get one here LinkedIn has really blossomed over the past several years into a really nice social platform. Like other social platforms, LinkedIn allows you to search for and connect with other users. It’s almost like facebook for professionals. A nice feature of LinkedIn is that it allows you to set up a very detailed professional profile. There is a place for your website, your blog and your RSS feed. Another cool thing about this platform is that it allows you to write recommendations for your connections and your connections can write recommendations for you. This serves similarly to testimonials, which we discussed in our previous post 5 tips for increasing your companies revenues via the web Testimonials are a great way to establish credibility and build trust. Once you establish your linkedIn account you can connect with me here

Technorati: Search Engine for Blogs

You can register with Technorati and claim your blog(s) here With over 112.8 million blogs and now competing with Google and Yahoo, you can see why this would be a good place for you to have your blog. Once you have registered with Technorati the first thing you will want to do is claim your blog. You simply put a little piece of code into your blog and ping Technorati confirming that you are indeed the owner. All article posts in Technorati has a link to the author. This link leads to your profile on Technorati. Your profile will display all of your blogs, their tags and the top tags you blog about. Put together a meaningful profile to show other Technorati members/users that you are a problogger.

Plaxo: Address Book Gone Wild

Plaxo started many years back as a simple tool used to update your address book, however over the past few years they have blossomed into a pretty awesome social platform that is based on your email address book. Once you sign up and create your account, you can create a very elaborate profile that allows you to share all of your relevant links, websites, blogs, twitter status, facebook, Youtube etc. Basically anywhere you are on the net you can have on your plaxo pulse. Since this is based on an address book update tool, basically everyone in your address book will have access to this pofile and all of your relevant links. You can sign up for plaxo here

After reading this post I hope some of you find yourselves tweeting or stumbling new websites, or otherwise enjoying one of these 5 social platforms, either personally, for your business, or both!

If you have anything to add about any of these 5 platforms, please let us know by posting a comment.