The variety of social media services today runs the gamut, but a few stand out as the more popular options. Here's a quick description of each site.
Twitter: A microblogging service that lets users send and read other users' updates, or "tweets," that are no more than 140 characters long.
Facebook: A networking site where users make profiles, build pages for organizations or companies, start discussion forums and send event invitations.
LinkedIn: A business-oriented networking site with users who customize profiles with employment histories, connect with business contacts, and find and post job openings.
MySpace: A networking site that lets users post information, photographs and music, send messages and stay in touch with friends and colleagues.
Tips for Playing the Social Media Game
Sheri Hawkins, owner of public relations firm 2 Balance, offers these tips for using social media for business purposes.
Be honest. Don't let someone else use your identity, and use social media to build trust in your company.
Produce your own content. Don't simply link to other information. Give people something fresh and unique.
Make it personal. Use humor and be conversational to avoid sounding stiff.
Don't oversell. Promote yourself, but don't force it upon people.
Update your accounts regularly. Update your Twitter status at least once a day, update your Facebook page at least once a month and consistently monitor your accounts to respond to feedback.