Here we are at last, loyal readers: the final installment in my three-part coverage of the best social networks for social media marketing. Some of you may have been following my blog posts for the past couple days, but more than a few of you may be jumping in only now. In my previous discussions, I went over the importance of location-focused social websites as well as those with the best potential for growth. Now it’s time that we take a look at the overall best social networks for business owners in 2012.

While my top picks for social media campaigns aren’t particularly surprising, it’s important that we take the time to look at the two candidates closely. Most social media optimization methods are quite effective when employed on these sites, what I consider to be, the best social networks around today. At the same time, a small business owner should always play to his or her company’s strengths. Remember that not all SEO techniques are applicable to every business and that building a strong follower base should precede all other goals. With those thoughts in mind, let’s take a look at our lucky winners.

Facebook: The King of the Castle
Of course, we all knew Facebook would be in my final picks. The site’s continuing popularity and massive market share make it an excellent choice for pretty much every business around today. Although its 845 million-strong user base is a goldmine for potential customers and business-focused social media activity, getting ahold of those followers can be a bit of a challenge. Unless your company has enough brand recognition or renown to grab users’ attention at a glance, you may find yourself fighting an uphill battle for any noticeable follower base.

As a result, it’s necessary that many companies take a more personal approach to their Facebook campaigning. Yes, those 800 million users may eventually subscribe to your business’ news feed, but not without the proper motivation or the right level of engagement. For small and medium-sized businesses, this means constant interaction with current followers as well as ongoing advertisements or contests to draw in new ones.

Recent surveys have shown that the average Facebook user has around 250 friends and interacts with countless companies, organizations and interest groups. In order to remain relevant, business owners need to remain engaged with users. A few techniques for Facebook interaction include:

  • Post links to trending and relevant news story. Actively involve your staff with the comments that may result from said link.
  • Contests for iPads and other desired consumer goods are an excellent way to gain followers. At the same time, you’ll want to reward interested users with excellent content and engagement otherwise they’re likely to un-follow you once the contest ends.
  • Become involved with other businesses or interest groups. Getting other high profile accounts to share your content helps gather those users who may have overlooked you.

Twitter: Content Delivery at 140 Characters a Second
If there is one thing Twitter is, it’s prolific. A social network that has always had positive growth trends and a user base addicted to trending topics, Twitter is on the pulse of social media sharing. Although the site lacks the visual panache of a Facebook or Google+ interface, the sheer potential a company has to generate traffic for itself cannot be overstated. With great content and the right hashtags, any business can establish a respectable following.

While there’s no perfect approach to operating on Twitter that guarantees absolute success, there are several practices that can help build up an account’s following. Social media campaigners may want to try the following:

  • Use websites such as bitly to shrink down links so they can be included in tweets.
  • Pay attention to trending keywords when creating tweets. If a popular term is relevant to a link or your business, attach that to your message.
  • Retweet popular profiles and people in your industry. Should they reply to you, it will show up in their newsfeed and that will lead more users directly to you.

For additional recommendations on business operations for any of the social networks I’ve covered in the last few days, please feel free to contact me directly. I can be reached at jwersits@webimax.com