This topic will certainly pop up again.
For now though, just a few comments.
There is no doubt that social media are a popular topic, and many gurus are writing about the merits of the various systems available. At the time of writing, a brief summary of their uses is as follows:
Facebook – great for engaging with your target market and particularly for finding out what makes them tick. Facebook’s Keyword system allows you to see a fascinating range of subjects that might interest your target group. With Facebook you have to remember that it’s a fairly captive and static group that will be looking at any adverts you place, so you need to refresh them often.
When setting out to use Facebook, think carefully if you want a personal page that your friends and customers will all see; or a Group – small but targetted and you can send out active messages to everyone in the group; or a business page – more like a website for your business, no limit to how many people can become a fan.
Twitter demands regular attention if you are to maintain a presence. There is a fine balance here between regular messages to keep your followers engaged, and so many in a day that they become irritated and switch you off. Think carefully about how much time you will have to keep this going. Twitter does have another use, which is as a source of information on what people are talking about, what their concerns are, and even possibly who some of your competitors are and what they are up to. A tweet of a question such as “who knows a good way to xxxx” is likely to pull in a few useful answers.
LinkedIn is developing rapidly. Whilst it has an obvious role in displaying your cv and current activities to other users, it is becoming a place to advertise, and certainly is being used more and more as a source of employment leads – to hire people and to canvas for business opportunities.
MySpace is currently looking like the essential place for anyone in the popular music business to have a presence but has less of a role for other businesses.
Even if you don’t want to have an active presence on these systems, it is a good idea to set up an account with your business name, if only to stop anyone else doing so. If you want to go into social media actively, think carefully about how you will dovetail with your website and/or blog. And don’t underestimate the time it will take you to manage your social media presence, particularly if you manage to develop an active and engaged community.