Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn and the colourfully-named Cucumber Town…

These are just some of the 100 sites listed on Wikipedia if you search for “social media”. And as a disclaimer on top of the table points out – this list is not exhaustive.

It’s no wonder that businesses sometimes struggle to sort the essential sites from those that are likely to be less than useful in connecting with clients.

Even the names offer few clues about where to start; for the uninitiated Twitter sounds like a meeting place for ardent ornithologists, rather than a community of 200 million users worldwide and counting.

It’s usually useful to start with the “big three” – Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

These have far and away the most users in the UK and they’re the brands that most people are aware of; even if you’re not especially au-fait with Twitter, you’ll have seen the ubiquitous blue bird perched on the pages of broadsheet newspapers or in the top right corner of many websites.

The sheer number of people signed up to these sites – around half the UK’s population now has a Facebook account – means that there are plenty of opportunities to build your business profile.

What of the rest? Well, there are plenty that you’ll be able to rule out immediately, perhaps because they have next to no presence outside of South Korea. Others have seen their popularity plummet (few firms are likely to flock to the once mighty MySpace).

You’ll also find that many of the sites were set up for a very specific audience. To take an example, Epernicus.com is unlikely to be a draw to anyone outside the field of research science.

Having said that, it always pays to do your research and identify sites which may be about to explode in popularity or could be useful to you even if they’re less familiar. It might just be that they’re aimed at exactly the sort of people your business caters for.

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