There can be little doubt that social media is one of the most important recent innovations for both the business world and its’ customers. The speed at which it has been adopted means that businesses simply cannot afford to ignore social media platforms.

That being said, there is a problem that threatens to damage all the good work businesses have put into becoming active members in the social media community. While there is no doubt that Twitter and Facebook are the major players, their very dominance can lead to a false sense of security as well as a business’s social media strategy becoming stale and static.

The truth of the matter is that there are a number of other key players that most businesses need to be aware of so that they can ensure they are covering all the bases and not getting a nasty surprise that can have a negative effect on their brand’s reputation.

Linkedin

Probably the other major player after Twitter and Facebook, Linkedin is arguably the most “professional” of social media platforms and is a superb resource for networking. However, even if a business feels that their core audience lies beyond its typical user, it should still maintain a presence, especially if the business provides B2B services.

Xing

Once you move beyond the top three, it can be tempting to think that the rest are “also-rans”; but this is a dangerous point of view. Take Xing, for example. This is a first rate networking social media site that has millions of users in 16 languages. It’s reach is global and any business ignores it at it’s peril. Joining Xing has a number of definite advantages such as it’s excellent collection of specialist groups. These are a great way to create a presence within a particular sector as well as keeping an eye of what is being said about a brand.

Ning

A pivotal social media site for anyone wanting to monitor brand reputation. Much used by marketers and activists, Ning is becoming a major opinion former and has the power to have a significant impact on product reputation. Businesses cannot afford to ignore the site and given that it is easy to search, there is no excuse to be caught out by any opinions that may impact brand reputation. Conversely, it is a great forum on which to post notifications of new products and services and to take part in an open debate to improve customer satisfaction.

Viaedo

Claiming 35 million professionals, the site is host to numerous networking opportunities. It also offers an excellent platform for consumers or businesses to contact industry experts in a particular sector. For any business wanting to place itself as a market leader, this is a really useful tool and can lead to greater visibility. Free to sign up, it should be part of most businesses’ social media strategy.

Groupsite

Groupsite.com is currently one of the unsung heroes of social media, but don’t expect this to last. It has a number of excellent features, among which are discussion and blogging forums. These are ideal places to discuss brands as well as being well worth monitoring for brand mentions and reputation management. Although not free, there is the opportunity to try out for free and this is definitely worth doing, as it will give the user a good idea of the kinds of discussion that take place. Perhaps not essential, but certainly worth keeping an eye on for the future.

Social Media is a key resource for business and to ensure that companies get the most out of all it can offer, they should look past Twitter and Facebook. This will help ensure they have a balanced view of the whole spectrum of the social media world.

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