We all have heard that social networking is the wave of the future when it comes to small business. However, there are so many social networks that it is literally possible to spend all day on them and forget all about the objectives of your company. This means that the smart business owner has to prioritize their social media activities. What networks are right for you? How involved should you be on them? Here are a few things to think about when setting your social networking priorities.

  1. There is strength in numbers.

    Because it takes people to be social—and the more people, the better in most cases—you should consider the size of different social media sites before investing too much time and typing into them. At the time of this writing, Facebook has more than 110 million users while LinkedIn has 30 million and Twitter has 5 million. Size isn’t everything, but it is nonetheless an important factor.

  2. Demographics are important.

    MySpace has more than twice the number of users than Facebook, but it didn’t even merit a mention in the previous paragraph. Why? Because it’s no longer a credible social network for small businesses. LinkedIn on the other hand, may be small, but it is home to the social profiles of Bill Gates and other Fortune 500 CEO’s. Facebook comes in second when it comes to credibility, with a respectable mixture of business and pleasure.

  3. Invest where it will pay off.

    Some social networks are not likely to last long, especially not in the current economic climate. You can guess that Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook will be here next week, because they have a business model that works and a large following. However, some social media sites are too new to meet the challenges of our economy, while others have insufficient income for their growth rate. There is a lot of potential in newer social networks, but the established ones offer stability that can’t be beat. Similarly, the older, more established social networks have higher page ranks on the most used search engines. They can give you a more substantial web presence than their lower ranked peers.

  4. Be a team player.

    Once you have selected the right network or networks, you need to participate in them in a fair manner, responding to other people’s posts and posting interesting information. Sticking to commercial material alone will weed your network to almost nobody and severely annoy whoever is left. Maintain your social networking accounts on a regular (like, daily) basis and keep an interesting mix of posts. This will help you build a large sphere of influence and also give people who are new to your company a great first impression.

  5. Set a daily time for social media.

    This is the best way to make sure you manage your social networks and not the other way around. Set a finite time period every day to be dedicated to updating and maintaining your social networks. Other than that, leave them alone and go about your business. You may need to experiment to come up with a system that works, but in the long run you will find the balance that you deserve.