As social media websites become the focal point of countless internet advertising firms, so too have small business owners come to depend on social networks for their ongoing marketing campaigns. While Facebook is the primary social website for many companies these days, the fact is that there is no shortage of social media sites to pick from when trying to improve a company’s conversion rates and traffic. Although social media companies often ignore many sites when campaigning, the options available to businesses advertising on social networks are rather robust.

Over the next few days, I’ll be looking at the half dozen or so websites that most social media advertisers call home. Many small business owners tend to ignore the vast array of networks they could be marketing through and instead rely on Facebook as their sole avenue of social campaigning. Experienced SEO agencies realize that each site has its own unique properties that allow businesses to capitalize on their company’s strengths. By choosing to focus one’s efforts on a social network that offers features that are worth using, a small business owner can bring in far more clientele than otherwise.

In today’s blog post, I’ll be putting the spotlight on those social networks that bring customers directly to a company’s doorstop. While they may not be as active as the bigger networks around today, geographically-focused social media sharing sites are an excellent asset to any small to medium-sized business.

Foursquare: The Little Meta Game that Could (and Does)
The most well-known of these social networks is, of course, Foursquare. Over the course of the last several years, Foursquare has become the most prevalent social media sharing site for “check-in” activity. Structured as a friendly competition between other users, the site is accessible through free apps available on every smartphone digital market out there. Getting involved with the network is as easy as having your business get listed online.

Many companies benefit from Foursquare through having an active listing full of comments and constant check-ins from users. For best results, you will want to have ongoing contests and promotions accessible only to network users. For example, a coffeehouse owner can offer a free drink for every five check-ins or a discount for regular visitors. The more active a Foursquare business account is, the better the chance that users will share their activity on Facebook or other networks. This allows businesses to appear in social media user feeds and gain additional exposure with little to no effort.

Pinwheel: The Up-and-Comer
Pinwheel is an interesting network. Similar in function to Foursquare, it allows its users to share their travel activity to friends and family in a few quick steps. The big difference between it and Foursquare lies with how users are able to add non-business locations to a map and pin images across it. As of right now, Pinwheel is in beta phase and as such users will have to sign up for a mailing list in order to get into it.

Business owners may be asking why they should bother with Pinwheel. Well, for one thing, getting into the network’s beta means getting in on the ground floor. A business established on Pinwheel now will have a considerable advantage over those companies that try to jump on the bandwagon once the site goes live. Pinwheel promises to offer many of the popular features that Foursquare provides to its users, so businesses that use the network will have plenty of tools to work with.

Facebook’s Check-In Feature: Well-Integrated, but Less Reliable
Companies already involved with Facebook may have seen its users check in at various locations from time to time. It’s true that site users can post their activity and mention a business as well as tag others, but the function isn’t as active on Facebook as it is on social media networks dedicated to that function (a la Foursquare). On the plus side, Facebook actively tracks the metrics for a business’ check-in rates and analytics are available for that information at any time.

Small business owners who focus most of their efforts on Facebook should definitely look into encouraging their followers to check in when visiting their company’s locations. Check-in activity can help keep a company’s name in user feeds consistently throughout both workdays and holidays.

Thus concludes the first installment in my three-part series on selecting the right social media site for business campaigns. For additional information, I advise readers to check out our resources on social media company services or to contact me at jwersits@webimax.com.