Question: I've set up marketing channels on all of the usual suspects (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc). Are there any boutique social networks that I should be leveraging for my business? What's your favorite?
Question by: Patrick
"If you want to be perceived as an expert in your field, then Quora.com is a good choice. It allows you to answer questions people have concerning your topic and industry. If people find your expertise valuable, they will go to your company's website and discover what services you offer."
"Honestly, the ones you'll want to target will be ultra-specific to your business. Most of the broad-spectrum, smaller social networks are just copies of the big players, and so won't be terribly useful. If you search for networks that are specific to your niche, however, you'll get a lot better results for your time."
"There are a lot of savvy professionals on LinkedIn, many of which ask questions to supplement and broaden their knowledge. Pick a few verticals where you're knowledgeable and become a go-to-resource. With each value-driven answer you will accumulate momentum, driving more and more people not only to your profile, but to your business."
Follow @Ryan Stephens
The Patch (AOL)
"The Patch is a micro blogging/news outlet owned by AOL. They are very tied into social media and are all about connecting with users in real time.You should definitely leverage one of these local news sites and turn it into your own boutique social media outlet as all of their content is distributed to their twitter and facebook fans. Leverage the network they already have built up if you are new."
"Play with the Reddit alien and get ready to roll around with the vicious trolls who will stop at nothing to talk down your business, but of all the trolls on Reddit, you'll probably find a good few that'll just love what you're doing and will be the most vocal evangelists."
"Hootsuite.com isn't a social network but it helps you manage the biggies -- Facebook and Twitter -- make sure you're getting the most out of the "usual suspects" first, then definitely branch out to a more niche community! In fact, you'll probably discover where the boutique social networks are through stronger use of Twitter & Facebook."
Find the Forums for Your Industry
"Every industry at niche has a forum — some of which look like they were designed a decade ago. Appearance doesn't matter, though: you need to dive in and connect with people who are truly relevant for your specialty. Broad social networks only get you broad access. You need specific connections to the people who will really be interested in buying from you."
"Every industry has a handful of blogs that act as hubs for movers and shakers. Seek out those blogs and offer to guest post or simply post in the comments area with your feedback. It's probable that these blogs will also lead you to other boutique social networks."
Focus on what works
"You should take a look at where your customers are spending time. For instance, you might find that based upon your customer's online activities you should have a presence on Flickr, Path or another site that best suites your marketing activities while at the same time presenting your business as top of mind to your customers."
Become a Local Catch
"Depending on your business you should try Location Based Services like Foursquare and Facebook Places to give an extra dimension to drawing in potential customers. These services allow you to offer incentives when customers `check-in' by visiting your business and every time they do they can alert their friends and contacts which gives your business more visibility."
"Yelp.com is a local business review and social networking site. The social web functionality on Yelp is unique and can help your business build a strong business reputation through positive feedback. The Yelp forum is also an excellent resource for increased online socialization with potential customers."
You Need to Use Them All
"If you focus on just one area then you are limiting your potential. Not everyone uses each channel. If you increase your breadth of tools you will increase your odds of success and growth. There are millions of people out there that don't use Facebook. There millions that use Twitter more and YouTube less. You want to grab all of them, so you have to be as many places as you possibly can. "
LinkedIn Groups to the Rescue!
"If you're looking to spice up your word-of-mouth marketing strategy, you should seriously consider establishing a LinkedIn group. I'm increasingly pleased with this platform, and presents a solid way of establishing professional credibility on an already credible base (LinkedIn itself)."
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to unemployment and underemployment and provides entrepreneurs with access to tools, mentorship, and resources that support each stage of their business’s development and growth.