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In today’s digital world, nearly everyone is connected in some way to the World Wide Web in order to satisfy their entertainment, education, research and consumer needs. The popularity of the Internet has prompted businesses of all sizes to have an online presence in the form of a Website.

If your business does not have a Website as of yet, your business probably isn’t performing to its fullest of capabilities. Having a Website can provide a number of benefits to your business that you may not have been aware of before.

Here are the top 10 benefits of having a Website:

1. Cost-Effective

Online advertisement is cost-effective compared to print advertisement and enables you to make on-the-fly changes, given that you are using a CMS.

2. Wider Demographic Reach

Unlike having a local brick and mortar establishment, a business Website transmits your business profile around the world, permitting for enhanced exposure and sales, due to a wider demographic reach.

3. Business Credibility

If you have a professional looking and user-friendly Website, consumers will likely have a greater chance of considering your business credible over companies who either do not have a Web presence, or have a poor Website presence.

4. Around-The-Clock Availability

Having a Website provides your consumers with around-the-clock availability in terms of access to products, information etc. This type of 24 hours a day, seven days a week service definitely generates more profits than that of a traditional storefront.

5. Consumer Convenience

In branching off from the above noted benefit, being available to meet the needs of consumers at any time day or night provides added convenience, giving them access to products and information whenever they need.

6. Increased Sales

When owning a business exposure is key to attracting customers. An effective Website with great content increases the probability for increased sales.

7. Fosters Customer Rapport

An online presence helps in terms of building and fostering a rapport among your customers. Providing special offers to loyal customers on your Website lets them know you appreciate their business.

8. Competitive Opportunity

Chances are your competitors have a Website and they’re using it to their fullest advantage. In order to keep up or surpass the competition, having a Website is a must.

9. Build Customer Base

Consumer communication via your Website can help you build your customer base. Populating a list of consumer contacts is gold to any company.

10. Targeted Marketing

A strategically planned Website can effectively attract the targeted audience you seek. Now that you have known why having a website is important to your business, contact an expert web design company to get a business-friendly website.

101 Social Media Tools for Social Media Marketing and More

It doesn’t make sense to jump in and use all new social media tools that come along just because everyone else is or because you think they’re “cool.” No one can really afford to be that unproductive with their time (or if they can, that alone speaks volumes). At Social Implications, we’re big advocates of cutting through the noise by narrowing down the social media tools you use to the ones best suited for your target market or audience.

That said, you can’t choose the best social media tools for your business (or even personal networking) unless you know what’s out there. With that in mind we’ve put together a list of 101 social media tools you should know about. We’ve broken them down for you by category below. Note though that we’re not including some of the biggest staples in social media — Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. Rather we’ll focus on tools to help you get more out of the sites you’re already using or social media tools that you might not have heard of yet. Links in each section are in no particular order. Enjoy!

Social Networking

There are countless social networks on the Web today, letting you do everything from network with old classmates to joining communities with like minded folks who share similar hobbies or business interests. But what happens when existing social networks don’t really serve your needs? You can start your own! Whether you’re interested in building a niche social network or one around your brand, here are some tools to help you do that.

  1. Ning — As of July 20th, plans range from $2.95 – 49.95 per month.
  2. GoingOn Community Platform — Emphasis on educational use
  3. BuddyPress — Create a social network on the WordPress platform
  4. Elgg.org — An open source social networking platform
  5. Boonex Dolphin — Feature-rich and free; Prime option also available
  6. SocialGo — Setup a free social network or purchase premium access to monetize your site.
  7. Snapville – Social networking solution focused on employee and customer engagement
  8. Cisco’s Eos Platform — Social networking and content management platform for the entertainment industry

Blogging

Blogging is one of the older aspects of social media, around even before the “social media” label really took hold. Blogs allow you to keep your customers up-to-date on company news. They allow you to have conversations with your audience. They serve as platform elements for professionals looking to build exposure and gain a solid reader base. They’re used in PR. They’re used in marketing. They’re used as private journals. They’re used to host content sites. They’re even used as business models all on their own. So let’s take a look at some blogging platforms you can use to set up your own new blog. The list below includes both hosted and self-hosted (you need your own hosting account) platforms.

  1. WordPress.com – Free hosted solution
  2. WordPress.org – Free self-hosted blog platform
  3. WordPress MU – Create a multi-user blog network using WordPress.
  4. b2evolution
  5. Blogger
  6. Typepad
  7. Vox
  8. Moveable Type – Commercial
  9. Moveable Type – Open source
  10. LiveJournal — For more personal blogging in most cases
  11. Serendipity

Blog Comment Management Tools

Sometimes the comment management tools built into your blog platform just aren’t enough. Here are a couple of extra options you might want to look into either to help you manage comments or encourage more of them.

  1. Disqus
  2. Subscribe to Comments – WordPress plugin

Microblogging Services and Tools

Chances are good that you’ve already heard of Twitter (and are using it). But there are other microblogging options out there, and plenty of tools to help you more efficiently manage your Twitter account to weed out some of that social media noise. Here are some of those tools and services.

  1. Jaiku — Microblogging service
  2. TweetDeck
  3. HootSuite
  4. TweetStats
  5. Seesmic
  6. Twitterrific
  7. Group Tweet
  8. Friend or Follow — Find out if the people you follow also follow you back.
  9. TwitPic
  10. Tweet Backup

URL Shorteners

Speaking of microblogging services and their limited character counts, let’s take a look at some URL shorteners currently available. These can condense your long URLs (that might not fit in a Tweet or other post) into a much shorter form. Some even allow link stats tracking.

  1. Bit.ly
  2. TinyURL
  3. Is.gd
  4. doiop.com
  5. SnipURL.com

Forum Software

Like what we traditionally think of as social networks, forums allow us to build communities around a niche, company, product, or anything else we’d like. If you think a forum would be better suited to your audience than a social network setup, then consider one of these forum software options.

  1. vBulletin
  2. PHPBB
  3. Simple Machines Forum (SMF)
  4. Vanilla Forums
  5. MyBB
  6. Invision Power Board
  7. bbPress

Social Bookmarking / Sharing

Social media is about more than conversations. It’s also about empowering members of your community to share what you have to offer, or “vote” if you will. There are several sharing, aggregation, and social bookmarking tools available to let them do that. Here are a few you might want to use or somehow incorporate into your website or blog.

  1. Digg
  2. Reddit
  3. StumbleUpon
  4. Sphinn
  5. Slashdot
  6. Newsvine
  7. AddThis
  8. ShareThis

Document, Video, and Photo Sharing Services

Social media encompasses all types of media. Users want to be able to share information, videos, photos, and other images in addition to their thoughts. If you’re one of those users, you might get some use out of the following social media tools.

  1. YouTube
  2. Flickr
  3. Vimeo
  4. Scribd
  5. Picasa Web Albums
  6. MetaCafe
  7. Daily Motion
  8. PhotoBucket

Online Collaboration

Sometimes being able to share documents online isn’t enough. You need online collaboration tools like the ones listed below where your work group can collectively edit and save documents while you collaborate on projects.

  1. Zoho
  2. Google Docs
  3. WriteBoard
  4. ReviewBasics (Disclosure: ReviewBasics is a former client of SI’s Jennifer Mattern.)

Podcasting

Podcasting is a sometimes overlooked area of social media. But if your audience could be effectively reached through a podcast or other type of audio show, you might be able to put these podcasting tools to use.

  1. PodBean
  2. BlogTalkRadio
  3. Audacity – Free recording software
  4. Podomatic

Wikis

Love it or hate it, we’ve probably all heard of Wikipedia. But why not create your very own wiki on your company site or related to a niche you love? Pull people together with some of the following wiki software options.

  1. MediaWiki
  2. Confluence
  3. TWiki
  4. BrainKeeper

Online / Social Learning

Social media goes far beyond personal and even business use. It can also be used in education. If you’re with an educational institution or organization, or you’d like to add online courses and other learning materials to your site, these social and online learning tools could come in handy.

  1. Moodle
  2. Blackboard
  3. Articulate e-Learning Software
  4. Joomla Learning Management System (LMS)

Social Media Search

There is a lot of noise in social media that you have to sort through on a regular basis if you want to stay productive. These social media search tools can help.

  1. Technorati
  2. Google Blog Search
  3. Google Alerts
  4. Yahoo! Alerts
  5. Bing’s Social Search
  6. SocialMention.com
  7. Google Social Search
  8. SocialSearch.com SearchWiki

Social Media Monitoring and Metrics

There’s rarely a way to completely and accurately measure social media. Most tools have their faults and most metrics can be manipulated. That doesn’t mean you should ignore the information you can access though. Social media monitoring and metrics-related tools like the ones below can give you a solid snapshot of trends resulting from your social media work.

  1. Feedburner – Track RSS subscriber stats.
  2. PostRank
  3. Omniture Site Catalyst
  4. Performancing Blog Metrics
  5. Google Analytics
  6. Compete
  7. Alexa

By no means do these represent all social media tools currently available. Do you have favorites not in this list? Share them in a comment below!

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