Using social media is an integral part of doing business in the internet age. The multifaceted benefits of these networking sites include expanding your customer base and connecting with your industry. They can also increase the reach of your marketing message and provide valuable information.

While business networks are not as multidimensional as social media, they are rich sources of support and information for entrepreneurs. The advantages they offer vary, but they can be invaluable in guiding your steps.

As the number of social media websites and business networks is growing steadily, it can be daunting to know which ones are most worth your time and effort. Here is a list of the top websites.

Social Media Sites

1. LinkedIn

  • In the world of business-based social media, most people would consider LinkedIn one of the leaders of the pack, likely because of its enormous reach and multiple benefits. Businesses can research other companies before dealing with them, while employees and employers can find and post jobs while conducting research on one another. Joining some groups offers the advantages of networking and sharing information with others in your industry.

2. Twitter

  • Aside from social networking, Twitter allows users to blog on a micro scale through sending and reading short messages called tweets. Users can choose to follow the messages of whomever interests them, which means they are subscribing to their tweets.

3. Facebook

  • Users can join groups categorized by location, workplace or school. As Facebook is the most popular social media website, it provides businesses with a great way to connect with customers. You can use your page on this website as a platform to post useful content frequently to entice your fans to keep returning.

4. Google+ and Google+ Business

  • Currently the second-largest social networking site, Google+, sometimes called Google Plus, surpasses even Twitter in popularity. Users of these websites employ circles to categorize their connections and hangouts to have video-based chats with contacts or customers.

5. Pinterest

  • This is a pinboard-style site that allows users to share photos and manage photo collections. Business owners can post images of their products that link back to their website. Another way to use Pinterest is to place “Pin It” buttons next to the product images on your website to encourage Pinterest users to share them.

6. Foursqare

  • A location-based social networking site, Foursquare is a free app you can download on your smartphone. Customers can “check in” to your business when they arrive and garner you free promotion.

7. YouTube

  • Businesses can use this video-sharing website for product commercials, product testimonials and how-to guides. Create a YouTube channel to increase your reach within the community of users who frequent this website.

8. Reddit

  • A social media site where uses share internet content, Reddit allows users to post text or links. Members can then vote the posts “up” or “down,” which serves to rank them and determines how prominently they are displayed on the site. Be careful about blatantly promoting your product, however; if you don’t offer a value or story of interest to your readers, they may vote it down.

9. Instagram

  • This website permits users to post filtered photos and easily share them on Facebook and Twitter. Your business-related posts on social media sites may receive more attention if you accompany them with a photo.

10. Tumblr

  • A micro-blogging platform and social networking website, Tumblr permits the easy sharing of photos and videos as well as audio and text. Its versatility makes it a good place for business blogging.

11. Biznik

  • An online community devoted to business, this social networking website permits entrepreneurs to gather, support one another and share information.

Business Networking Sites

1. Cofoundr

  • This is a networking website for entrepreneurs who want to start new ventures. Members list the kinds of people they are interested in finding and post their idea for a venture in a forum or on a bulletin board.

2. SunZu

  • You can connect with and learn from others in this online community. SunZu also provides access to business opportunities and news that is of interest to the business world.

3. PartnerUp

  • This networking website allows members to look for business partners, opportunities and vendors, as well as promote their business and get information.

4. EFactor

  • A website that facilitates various kinds of entrepreneurial connections, EFactor may help you find partners and investors.

5. Perfect Business

  • A network of entrepreneurs, business experts and investors, Perfect Business can provide contacts, information and support in addition to business planning software.

6. Ryze

  • This networking website enables business owners to make contacts and get advice from people in their field. Members can join groups that relate to their interests and location.

7. Upspring

  • Members of Upspring create profiles from which they can engage with prospects and customers. The network also offers social marketing applications to help drive customers to their website and social media pages.

8. StartupNation

  • This networking website provides advice and support to people interested in starting or growing their business. It consists of forums and expert blogs along with articles and podcasts. Members can also join groups categorized by location, interest and profession.