One of the most important lessons I teach to my students in the social media course I teach is that it's vitally important to build your social base. We have so many platforms on which to market that if we try to be everywhere all the time, we'll effectively not be anywhere. This is especially true if you are budget or resource constrained and trying to make social media work for you.
How do you choose a social base? Look around at all of the social networks and figure out which one you are most comfortable working in. For some people, the way Facebook works is ideal for them. They love how Facebook's community management features work. For some people, the way Twitter works is ideal for them. For some, it's LinkedIn, for others it's Google+.
The one criterion I would strongly recommend is that you pick a network that offers federated identity. These are the networks that have login capabilities on other sites - Sign in with Twitter, Sign in with Facebook, Sign in with Google, etc.
Set up an outpost on each, but then pick the one you like the most and devote most of your resources to building it up. Participate on others as needed or required, but give your energy to one to help it grow.
Why? Because the federated identity platforms allow you to move your network from place to place. Here's an example. I hadn't used Stumbleupon in ages, and last year I decided I'd go back and see what was still happening. It turns out that my account had been so inactive that it had been purged from their system, so I had to start fresh.
When I logged into Stumbleupon and created my profile, I was asked if I wanted to find friends from another network. I connected with Twitter and within minutes, I had built a Stumbleupon network of nearly 1,200 people. Now I could make use of that network without having to arduously build it up too.
As these networks get ever larger and more popular, your ability to be successful with them will be partly dependent on the solid base you have that you can direct and manage well. Build your base, build your momentum.
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