Friday 20 June, 2014
In the world of social media, the big names are Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, but there’s much more to the social landscape. Aside from the new kids on the block like Pinterest that are taking the online world by storm, there are hundreds of small social media sites popping up that are tailored to particular groups of people. With all the tools available now, it’s easy to start your own social media site, and this is a good thing for any business to consider.
Why Start Your Own Social Network?
Staring your own social media site has a lot of advantages. It can drive traffic to your site and increase exposure for your brand. It’s a great way to generate leads that may turn into customers. You can use your social media site as a way to establish your authority in your niche. It’s also a wonderful way to get to know your customers better. It offers a way to communicate with them directly and get their feedback.
Where to Start
It may seem intimidating to imagine your site going head to head with massive networks like Facebook and Twitter, but the good news is that you don’t have to. The key to creating a successful social media site is to narrow your focus. Facebook works because it appeals to everybody. Yours will appeal to a small, select group that doesn’t already have its place to hang out online.
Start by considering your customers. What do they love to talk about and share? Take an interest that connects them to each other and your business and use that as the theme for your social media site. For example, if you’re an insurance company that offers coverage for expats overseas, start a social media site for expats. You can make it more specific by focusing on a region or on a smaller group, like expats with kids.
Building Your Social Media Site
Building the site is actually the easy part. There are all kinds of online platforms you can use to create your site, including Ning, Kickapps, Spruz, Mixxt, BuddyPress, PeoplePods, and the list goes on. Another option is to use a software program. Software programs for building social media sites include Around Me, Insoshi, Kwiqq, Social Engine, and Ninety Ten.
Populating Your Social Media Site
Once it’s built, you’ve got two challenges – one, to get them to sign up; two, to get them to stay and use the sight. The latter is actually the much more challenging of the two. To get people to your site, tell everybody about it on your other social media sites, your website, your blog, and offline. You can partner with businesses that share your target market to get the word out even more.
It’s relatively easy to get people to sign up, but then they disappear. You’ve got to give them a reason for sticking around. After all, they’re already using the big sites like Facebook. Why should they stay and interact with yours, especially when all of their friends aren’t there?
You’ve got to get creative and allow them to do something on your site that they can’t do on other sites. Brainstorm ways your customers can interact with it. Some good interactive features include things like a rating system for comments, their own user URL, the ability to customize pages, and buttons for easy sharing with other social media sites.
The Downside of Running Your Own Social Network
Creating your own social network can do great things for your business but there is a downside. It takes lots of time and maintenance if you want to do it right. Moderating, maintenance and making improvements are daily tasks. Don’t start your own social media site unless you’re willing to babysit it.