Six Essential Social Media Tools for Business

Deltina Hay is the principal of Social Media Power, and founder of the new social media Website service, Plumb Social and recommends the following Six Essential Social Media Tools for Business:

1. Your Own Blog

RSS feeds are the backbone of the Social Web. You want your own RSS feed to publish to the Social Web so you can benefit from the exposure in the many RSS feed directories. A blog is the easiest way to have your own RSS feed.

Just starting a blog is not enough, however. You need to optimize your blog and your blog posts and keep your content fresh and engaging. You also want to integrate your RSS feed into your other social media tools.

You can start a free or nearly free blog at WordPress.com, Blogger, or Typepad, or you can install one on your site from WordPress.org.

2. A Facebook Presence

A Facebook “presence” consists of a Facebook profile and a Facebook page.

A Facebook profile is for an individual and should only be created for a key representative of the business, not for the business itself.

Take the time to optimize your Facebook profile by completing it thoroughly with content that contains key terms that are relevant to you and your business. You should also integrate your blog and other social tools by importing them into your Facebook feed.

A Facebook page is for your business. You can create a page for a service business, a product business, a local business, or as an artist/musician/writer.

Your Facebook page should represent your business effectively. This may be the only chance you get to pull in potential customers. Here are a few Facebook applications you can add to your page to accomplish this:

  • Social RSS imports RSS feeds or blog entries
  • MyFlickr imports images from your Flickr account
  • YouTube Box helps you add video clips to your Facebook page
  • ShopTab is a great application for selling products, but it will cost you a small monthly fee
  • Static FBML lets you place HTML code onto your page
  • Causes is a great way to accept donations for your nonprofit business

3. A LinkedIn Account

While Facebook is a social networking site, LinkedIn is more of a professional networking site. This is why it is an essential tool for business – especially if you do B2B.

Again, your LinkedIn profile may be the first impression someone gets of your business, so take the time to optimize it. Fill in every section of your profile using edited content and key terms.

Add applications that enhance your profile – especially the BlogLink application that imports your blog entries. You also want to join LinkedIn groups that are relevant to your business.

4. A Twitter Account
Twitter is a micro-blogging tool, which means you can post short entries of only 140 characters. But it is also a social networking tool, since users interact and have conversations around their posts in “real-time.” Twitter is a great way to spread the word about events, products, and services, but you want to use it in addition to your blog, not instead of it.

Keep your “tweets” fresh and plentiful. Tools like TweetDeck or HootSuite help with this. These tools let you post-date your tweets so you can enter many tweets in one session.  HootSuite also offers an option to import your blog posts as tweets.

Utilize Twitter lists to help manage all of the people you are following.

5. A Flickr Account

Flickr is a media community where users upload and share photos and other images. This is a highly underrated tool, as you can get very good exposure and enhanced search engine placement if you use it wisely.

When adding images to Flickr, rename the uploaded file to include a few key terms that are relevant to the image and to your business. Also include those same key terms as tags and within the image’s description.

Integrate your Flickr account with your other social tools and add them as galleries to your Website or blog.

6. A YouTube Account

There is no mistaking the power of viral video. If your business lends itself to making videos of any sort, get those videos on YouTube. But even if it doesn’t, you can still benefit from the popularity of YouTube by creating playlists and commenting on other videos.

Whether you have your own video clips or create playlists, import them into your other social sites or use them to embed a video gallery onto your Website or blog.

Use the same posting strategy as for images: Use key terms in file names, tags, and descriptions of video clips you add to these communities.

Here is a presentation that can help you create a realistic beginning social media strategy for your business:

Where to go from here:

Once these essential tools are in place and are being maintained by adding and optimizing fresh content, you may want to add some tools that are lesser-known but just as powerful.

These tools can  include viral widgets and applications, social media newsrooms, social calendars, social pages, document sharing sites, virtual worlds, and, one of my favorites: social bookmarking and crowd-sourcing.

Below is a teaser from my book, A Survival Guide to Social Media and Web 2.0 Optimization. It includes the entire chapter on social bookmarking and crowd-sourcing. The teaser also includes the respective section from the resource CD that includes fillable forms to help with your strategy. This chapter will give you a good idea of how powerful these tools can be for any business.

No matter which tools you implement, remember that the Social Web is about interacting. Join and start conversations whenever you can.

Here’s to success in the Social Web!

Deltina Hay is the principal of Social Media Power, and founder of the new social media Website service, Plumb Social. Ms. Hay’s graduate education in computer science, applied mathematics, and psychology led her naturally to social media consulting. Her latest book, A Survival Guide to Social Media and Web 2.0 Optimization, can be found anywhere books are sold.

Share with us what social media tools you are currently using for your business that you recommend other ShopTab business owners should consider in the comments area below: