This is a guest post written by Chris Brogan, who blogs about social media for business at chrisbrogan.com.
There are only so many hours in a day, and you've got to determine which social media tools drive business, which ones build community, and where you can learn the most in the process. Maybe you've built a blog or a home page or some other starting point for your online presence. How do you manage the rest of your online presence, and how do you keep track of everything? I have some ideas for you. Let's start by building the following:
Get a Google account and get Google Reader. Go to Technorati and Google Blogsearch. Find the search bar and put in:
-Your name in quotes.-Your company name (if that matters).-Your competition's name.-keywords to your industry.
Every time you do a search, look for the orange RSS subscription button on Technorati, and click it. Look for the RSS subscription link to the left on Google Blogsearch. Click it. Add all of these to your Google Reader (upper left area of the left sidebar).
You've just built a rudimentary listening post.
A Social Hub or Two
Go to FriendFeed. Build an account and add your blog, your Flickr photos, your Upcoming.org, and your whatever-you're-doing-on-the-Web into it. This is another way to share out what you're doing, but also another place where conversations are happening that you might not see if you're not there with another kind of listening post.You might also check out Lijit, a service that offers a different spin on a similar thing.
Some Social Network Outposts
At this point, my top 3 choices for social networks are:
-LinkedIn - for professional networking.-Facebook - for social circles.-Twitter - for everyday conversation and networking.
I belong to and use several other networks for different things, including Utterz (I'm on their advisory board), Flickr, several Ning sites, and a few other niche things. The three listed above are the ones I think have the most resonance. You might substitute MySpace for Facebook. You might like Jaiku more than Twitter. The details don't matter. I just listed what I feel are the best choices at present.
On those sites, amongst other things, be sure to point links back to your primary site or your blog. Thread the needle for people.
Note: several of these sites also have RSS subscriptions for comments and other updates. You can add those to your Google Reader, too, to keep track of it all.
What to Do With It All
This is partially difficult to answer, as it's up to you what your goals are for using social media. But some of the things you can do once you have this all in place are:
-Learn who's talking about you (or your company, or the other keywords you put into your reader), and engage them in conversation on their site.
-Make relationships with others before you need them on social networks.
-Find other professionals in your field, or in unrelated fields on social networks.
-Connect with old friends and business colleagues.
-Discover new people through reading and learning, and follow the media they make on the various networks, and/or in Friendfeed.
-Learn more about your competitors through the media they make, and discover where you can build more value.
Obviously, there are dozens more possibilities. If nothing, I hope to have provided a potential starter kit for managing some of the elements of online presence around your primary blog or website. You might have some different experiences along the way, and some parts might not work, so feel free to adjust. Your mileage may vary.
Would you add anything else to this premise?