At first the only social networks were free to join major networks like MySpace and Facebook. Their networks are open to absolutely everyone from anywhere and they have grown like wildfire across the web. Even network marketers joined these networks and still do in order to market their opportunities or products through these sites. It is definitely smart because it is a great free way to get that extra exposure even though the audiences of these networks are not necessarily targeted. In recent months social networking has become even more so a big topic, and especially among network marketers.
However, the value of marketing on Myspace and Facebook is quickly dropping. This is due to the massive release of new and niche focused social networks. The fact is that this year alone I have seen an increasing number of professional social networks geared towards network marketers launching and becoming increasingly popular. To name a few: TalkMoola, Zenzuu, Friendswin, Yuwie, and Wowzza. A couple older ones are DirectMatches, AdLandPro, and even Ryze. Honestly I wouldn't even be the least bit surprised to see a few more start-up this year - that is how much it is catching on! It is also obvious why they do become so popular among network marketers, because there is no better advertising than targeted advertising. Exposing your business opportunity, system, or product to other network marketers is simply the most effective thing to do. Once a network marketer joins you they already have had their foot in the door and are somewhat knowledgeable about the industry and can greatly help your business. However if a random person from MySpace sees and joins your business they are not nearly as valuable to you because they most likely have no idea what they are doing or what network marketing is even about.
So when network marketers are invited with the ability to join a social network full of network marketers it is almost a no-brainer. Just to clarify why I said "almost"... It is because not all network marketers have caught on to the power of social networking yet or how to properly use social networking to explode their businesses. But the ability to further expose themselves and their business to other like-minded people is extremely valuable and profitable for most. The old way of network marketing is out, and I see the future holding tight to social marketing through professional social networks. Even so, many of these new business social networks are offering incentives for those who join. These range from revenue sharing, direct affiliate commissions, and various MLM pay plans. Through this supporting these new business social networks they will experience the increased awareness and exposure that they deserve.
All professional social networks, however, are not created equal. Here are a few things you need to look out for when deciding which ones you will utilize in exposing yourself and your opportunities.
1) Somewhat Targeted or Extremely Targeted?
When looking over your social networks find out if the people involved in the social network are the type of people who would be interested in what you have to offer, or are like-minded to you. This means that if you are a network marketer looking to provide an opportunity to other network marketers then the people involved in the social network should be strictly network marketers. Does the social network you are considering include members looking for a date or love? If the social network includes this or niches totally unrelated to you then this weakens the potential of that network for you. However, if the social network is only network marketers or business opportunity seekers then it is an incredible source for you.
2) Are mass communications possible to your friends list?
Increasing your friends or contact list on social networks is the one major thing you must do in order to maximize your exposure and reach. This means accepting friend invitations from those within the social network and also seeking out other like-minded to add to your network of friends. The larger your list of friends the more active you will appear to be and the more people will take heart to what you have to say. It also means more people who you can send messages to through the social network. Some social networks limit the amount of people you are able to send a message to at once. Let's say you have 200 friends but you are limited to sending to only 30 people per message and you can only send one bulk message per day. Well this is a very negative restriction and even more so if you have a much larger network of friends. On the other hand, some social networks will let you add unlimited friends and you can send them a bulletin or message to all your friends at once anytime with ease. This is what you should be looking for because whether you have 100 friends, 1,000 or even 10,000 you can send them all a message just as easily as if you were sending it to one. This means potentially huge exposure for you. If you want you can even consider it like an instant contact list of targeted prospects! However, I do warn about sending too much unwanted messages to your friends, you should try to connect with them and send them as much quality information as you can instead and then lightly introduce what you have to offer. If you consistently send what they would consider as spam messages they will just block you or remove you from their friends' network, so using the social network properly is important.
3) Are the members free, paid, or both?
The quality of the membership is another factor. If the membership is mostly free then they are less likely to be purchase ready. However, if the membership is all paid and everyone is used to paying to be a part of the social network then these are the highest quality members you can get in touch with because they will have the money to invest in working with you. Mixed is fine though as this factor is not as important as the first two.
4) What are the other site incentives?
Overall this is the least important factor to be discussed. Other incentives could be the pay plan such as revenue sharing, affiliate commissions, or some type of matrix structure. It could also be other services provided with your cost of the membership such as training, tools, or other bonuses. Keep in mind, even if they do not offer great incentives but the rest of the above factors are positive I would still be excited to join.
Right now there is not a huge selection of targeted professional social networks but I am positive that the future will hold true for more and more becoming available. Personally I like to take advantage and join any social network because that is extra exposure for me, and any extra exposure is always a good thing. However when choosing to be most active in select networks you may want to consider the above factors. I have created many strong relationships, learned a lot, taught a lot, and profited a lot from those relationships within social networks. You should take at least some advantage of every professional social network available, even if it is just setting up a profile to gain some extra exposure. If they are a niche social network that have like-minded individuals similar to yourself then you should definitely be more open to actively using that network. The benefits can be enormous.