Lee Odden

Reader Poll: Influence Marketing with Social Networks

reader poll

Update for 2012: Here’s a list of the top 12 social networks for business:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • Google+
  • Slideshare
  • Pinterest
  • FourSquare
  • StumbleUpon
  • Flickr
  • MySpace
  • Tumblr

Whether the top social network is Facebook or something new, TopRank can help your business with social network development and social media marketing.

Networking has been a core tactic for building and marketing businesses long before the internet came of age, and certainly even more so with the explosion of services such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Ning. Web technology and the mass appeal of making connections online makes social networking an attractive channel for businesses that want to extend their word of mouth reach, credibility and influence, or using influencers to market through social.

While there’s plenty of buzz about social networks (socnets), most companies aren’t quite “wired” for enganging social communities just yet. Amidst all the shiny new objects of Web 2.0 web applications, it’s important to understand which networks are influential and relevant. Hence, our Reader Poll:

What social network is most influential to you for business?

  • LinkedIn (39%, 122 Votes)
  • Twitter (32%, 101 Votes)
  • Facebook (18%, 56 Votes)
  • Other vertically specific socnet (share details in comments) (4%, 13 Votes)
  • MySpace (3%, 9 Votes)
  • Custom Ning network (1%, 4 Votes)
  • Xing (1%, 3 Votes)
  • Plaxo (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Ecademy.com (1%, 2 Votes)
  • FriendFeed (0%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 313

Loading ... Loading ...

For these options, I am including Twitter and FriendFeed as social networks, even though most would characterize them as having social features, but not necessarily pure socnets in the sense that LinkedIn and Facebook are.

Many people use multiple social networks. For example, the three I use most often are: LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. YouTube and Flickr offer social networking features, but I suspect the majority of users are personal, not business.  For this poll, just pick one and share others in the comments including an anchor text link to your profile if you like.

Please also share other business social networks, especially any that are niche or vertically specific.

PoorSo SoOKGoodAwesome (3 votes, average: 4.33 out of 5)

Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Facebook shiould buy linkedin for the business component

  2. Believe it or not, PLURK is becoming influential to my business. More responses and interactions with the online community than Twitter.

    Click on my name to add me to your PLURK friends BTW 😉

  3. umm. why does digg and stumbleupon are not included??

  4. Voted for Twitter – http://twitter.com/danalookadoo
    It’s important for businesses to be more transparent and reach out to their audience, to show a personal side. I believe it has the most influence for companies entering social networking as a means to form relationships.

    LinkedIn – http://www.linkedin.com/in/lookadoo
    From a pure business profile standpoint, this would be top. It’s Answers section is a resource for best practices. The conversation is always professional and PG. However, it’s not setup for ongoing dialogue.

    FaceBook – http://www.facebook.com/people/Dana_Lookadoo/1093809431
    Great for getting to know people and finding friends from the past. Some companies have done well to create apps, polls, gain attention and following. Most professional groups I’ve joined, however, don’t update it often, making it stale.

    FriendFeed – http://friendfeed.com/danalookadoo
    This is a great way to expand the conversation and is a great resource for seeing what is important to peers in the industry. Businesses could effectively use FF Rooms as a way to have group discussion.

  5. Even though I really have only been using Twitter actively for just over a month, it has had big benefits for my business, so I would definitely choose it. I checked my blog stats the other day and Twitter was by far the biggest referral site, with Facebook a close second.

    I have made a lot of good business connections via Twitter, which have in turn led to an introduction to a journalist I needed to pitch, interesting Webinars and blogs I didn’t know about, a way to invite local bloggers to an event, etc.

    I think the fact that it is really a conversation makes a big difference, because you start to feel like you know these people, which makes for a much better relationship.

    I wrote a blog post on how Twitter has been useful to me if you’d like to check it out: http://newworldpr.blogspot.com/2008/07/twitter-is-actually-useful-very.html

  6. We developed a community for Human Resource Vendors to connect with each other, potential customers, and share information and resources about their company. Here is a link to my profile on our HR Community.

    I also use LinkedIn, but have not found it as useful as a few others in our company. One of our sales staff has found it to be very useful. He and another colleague have recently started using Twitter and that has proven useful, and effective, as well.

  7. LinkedIn is great so is Facebook… but I’d be lost w/o my tweeple! .02

  8. Socnet can be a bit overwhelming (in a good way), but it is absolutely an important part of the foundation in my internet business building.

    Great post. I voted Twitter:-)

    Jimmy Adames

  9. I guess LinkedIn is going to get the mayority of votes because it is highly focussed on business and less on socializing like Facebook.
    Real socializing, go twitter and Delicious…

  10. I voted Twitter because not only can I promote my company’s site through daily posts (search IT Business Edge on Twitter) but I learn a lot of the latest info from those I follow. I want to love LinkedIn but I’m just not as in to it as I think I should be. Facebook is great, but mainly for personal. I’ve tried some business initiatives, but have not been successful yet.

  11. Lee.. however.. if you are in the entertainment field, i.e. nightclubs, clothing lines, adult entertainment, modeling, etc… MySpace IS the best place to get new biz..

    let me know if you need more info.. i have tons of examples on that one.. but i don’t think that’s what you are asking..

  12. Avatar RichardatDELL says

    Hi Lee,

    Voted for Facebook, as it is in my mind really the “social network” of most value. However, Linked In would be a second choice. FriendFeed and Twitter, while both having important social elements,especially Twitter in terms of connections and conversations, I find them useful for listening,learning and checking out things.

    I will be interested in your final findings for sure.

  13. Twitter is by far the biggest influence. I learn so much from my twitter connections and I reach my audience quickly.

  14. Jan Alvin, I suppose if Twitter can be on this list, Digg and StumbleUpon could as well. Next time!

  15. @danalookadoo great rundown on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and FriendFeed!

    It seems some sort of convergence between them would be ideal, but I wonder what impact too many features would have on functionality? Can’t be everything to everyone.

  16. Hey @webprgirl (Lyb) that was a good story/post about Twitter being useful for you!

    Jimmy, David, Rose and Mindy – I wonder if the way you learned of this poll influenced your answer? Just curious.

  17. Hi Richard, thanks for your vote and your insight, much appreciated!

    To all, feel free to retweet and pass the link around so we can get a good sample: http://tinyurl.com/socnets

  18. Hi Lee.

    I don’t think so. Twitter is just the most obvious social networking tool right now. Of course, that’s my opinion.

    I actually use it more to find out what’s going on at this very moment and it has connected me to some real nice folks who I have continued to communicate with on other social networking platforms.

    Jimmy Adames

  19. I was hoping to get a little more history on the social networking mania.

    In any case, thanks for an informative and interesting read.

  20. Thanks Jimmy. I think it would be interesting to hear/read how people use different social networks together. Is it in a linear way, such as connecting on Twitter, then Facebook and then LinkedIn? Or is it interconnected depending on the purpose, such as using LinkedIn for more formal networking and Twitter for a mix of biz and personal networking/socializing.

  21. Absolutely Lee.

    As an Internet Marketer trying to blend the new wave of social networks into my business can be a bit overwhelming.

    I have always been a person who loved to socialize so using it to grow my Internet business has been a good thing, but it can also sidetrack me.

    My ultimate goal is to integrate both Internet and Social Marketing but being careful not to hurt my relationships online.

    More importantly, I have to test which networks I can leverage for the long term success of my business.

    Jimmy Adames

  22. Surprised you didn’t include Naymz.

  23. Great post and I like using an interactive poll as there are tons of posts about social networks nowadays but nice to see something interactive besides the comments section!

    What’s crazy to me is not the social networks that we are most accustomed to but the large number of new social networks popping up. With the release of the iPhone 2.0 software there have been an additional 5-10 based on the location features on the iPhone.

    I currently have accounts set up on: Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and LinkedIn. I will be signing up for FriendFeed to test with as that seems to be gaining traction. I have 2 MySpace accounts (one is for my restaurant) but don’t really use it that much anymore. However I still have a couple friends who don’t have other social network accounts. My other accounts I enjoy using and am constantly trying to put more time into using them as I think they are a great personal and professional tool.

    Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/justinlevy
    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/people/Justin_Levy/9028927
    LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/justinlevy
    Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/spd368


  24. I’m trying to trim Social Networks, there are just too many to really keep track of well. If LinkedIn and Facebook merged in some way it would be absolutely fantastic. Twitter is just Facebook’s status field.

  25. Avatar Lyn Mettler says

    I totally used to think that’s all Twitter was myself. But if you download something like TwitterFox for Firefox or Twhirl, which provides a continuous stream of “tweets” from everyone you follow on your browser, it truly becomes a conversation. Which the Facebook status really can’t.

  26. My LinkedIn network and their recommendations have helped me with choosing vendors and access to professionals.

    Although when used correctly, I think Twitter has a lot of potential as well, especially for researching.

  27. I own a local entertainment web site and because of my target demographic, MySpace has been the best social network to drive traffic to my web site. Because my “friends” are local bands and people who live in the area, using bulletins, making comments and posting blogs have been effective communication tools in creating quality traffic.

    However, I eventually want to start my own search marketing business and Twitter has been the most convenient in keeping me in the loop of what’s happening in the search/social/blogging world. I don’t follow a million people; I mostly follow those I want to learn from and who I know will provide reference to good information–quickly. I have a LinkedIn profile and could probably use it more for business networking.

    I use Facebook for goofing around with my friends.

  28. This is a great thread and it’s what I was hoping for with the poll – stimulate some great observations, insights and commentary in the comments.

    It seems that different social networks serve different purposes for people, so the one dimensional nature of this poll only scratches the surface.

    Still, if a business is considering entering the social networking arena, there is a short list of sites to get started with.

    If you had to pick just one or two social networks for a business to “get their feet wet”, which would they be?

  29. If a business is considering entering the social networking arena for the first time I would have to recommend LinkedIn although I chose Twitter in your poll.

    LinkedIn has very important components that can help professionals communicate at a higher level, such as the recommendation tool.

    I chose Twitter in your poll, because it fits the goals of my Internet business building much better and I answered based on my needs.

  30. The E.Factor is the most useful Business networking site out there.

    While it is only 5 months old, it is a virtual economy where users have access to tools, resources, advice, funding, and networking both online and offline.

  31. All the social networks are great. Bring them on, more required, needed, wanted. The people have been using social networks ever since the net became a viable meeting place. One of my favourites is StumbleUpon, which isn’t mentioned in the voting list. I wonder, why is this?

  32. Avatar Bernie Borges says

    I echo many of the comments made here. I like the versatility of Facebook. I like the ability to find old friends and colleagues in LinkedIn and I really like the near real time nature of Twitter.

    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=566203510
    LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/bernieborgeseo
    Twitter: http://twitter.com/berniebay

  33. I voted for LinkedIn, although I agree with Jan that SU should be included. I have actually made a couple of business connections through SU…it’s all in how you present yourself and your interests, and how you interact with your circle of friends.

    I also like Sphinn, Small Business Brief, and Gooruze (online marketing). All great places to network with industry pros.

    LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/
    StumbleUpon: http://kjripp.stumbleupon.com
    Twitter: http://twitter.com/KariRippetoe
    Gooruze: http://www.gooruze.com/members/kjripp/

  34. http://twitter.com/marketinggirl
    marketinggurl on digg
    and marketinggurl on technorati

  35. I voted for Facebook, but I wish I could’ve voted for the top three. My response would’ve been Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. Each serves a different purpose but they are inter-related.

  36. My target group is Facebook users, but I do see traffic coming from LinkedIn.

  37. Very interesting poll so far. I would have thought Facebook, Twitter, then Linkedin. Very very interesting!

  38. Avatar Schmittyapolis says

    Though I spend most of my time on Facebook and Twitter, I have a hard time as classifying them as legit “business” network sites. Sorry, anything that I can receive virtual teddy bears in just doesn’t cut it… and Twitter is just for fun.

    I would have to vote for Linkedin. Another network in beta that is not mentioned here is behance.net. It is specifically geared towards those in the graphic design/advertising field.

  39. Twitter provides me personally the “biggest bang” for the buck. For business, facebook and linkedin are secondary right now.

    This is the order of importance according to one of the top social media experts

    ( Lee, I referenced your site, hope it’s ok! 🙂 )

  40. Twitter has helped me build my network with new contacts better than facebook. Facebook I think will help you connect with people you haven’t seen in a while. This is good because it allows you to pitch ypur skills to people you already know.
    The longer your own facebook the better it becomes for your business. Especially if you link up with so called gate keepers. A little research on facebook will help yu determine who these people are.

    Twitters allows you connect with new people all of the time. The only time I talk with someone I already know on twitter is if I referred them using my link. Most of the time they’re people I want to consitently talk with in short powerful burst.

    Here’s a idea. What if twitter allowed you to speak into a mic and it typed out everything you said. Then you say update and your post updates hands free. I think twitter would easily jump to number one.

  41. Avatar Lyn Mettler says

    Try Jott.com. It lets you call in your “tweet” by phone and it updates it for you, no typing — all for free. Pretty cool!

  42. I like Twitter but am actually not real happy with the social networks for inline businesses. There is a lack of big league social networks for online businesses. I have not tried Plurk but will look into it.

    Does anyone have any idea if there is a socail network out there for online marketing businesses?

  43. Shelby, there are online marketing groups within Facebook and LinkedIn. You might also check out the directory of networks powered by ning.com

  44. Avatar Jason Counts says

    Hi Lee,
    I thought I’d mention my social networking site for Internet Marketers & Entrepreneurs, since you said at the beginning of this post:
    “Please also share other business social networks, especially any that are niche or vertically specific.”

    It’s a social network that I’ve been working on for quite some time, and I’m just about ready to open it up for registration within the next few weeks…
    FireStorm Marketer – Internet Marketing Social Network

    I use a number of different social networks like Twitter, Facebook, etc but haven’t used them extensively since I spend so much time coding my own site. Hopefully when I’m finished with my site I can focus more of my time on participating on other various networks including my own.

    Anywho, I’m rambling on due to lack of sleep(haha). Any feedback you might have would be appreciated, either negative or positive. Thanks and great blog by the way.

    Jason Counts

  45. I think the rankings make sense. I don’t agree with the first commenter re: Plurk being used for business. I’m a big fan of Plurk and have yet to see businesses engage this platform in a formal way. That said, Plurk was launched mere months ago, it may have potential yet.

  46. Avatar Matt Pitcher says

    I like Twitter for posting alerts – also another way to keep the blog content fresh through integration. I see big value in Facebook, but not as business friendly as I’d like. If there was a Facebook (for ease of use, user interface, apps) -LinkedIn (pro-business) hybrid, that would probably be my ideal channel.

  47. I actually just starting using perspot.com recently. However, I have found that there are a lot of really neat features on it. It is almost as though they took the best parts of almost every social network and put a little twist on it to make it their own and combined them all into one network.
    It is also an amazing place for advertising. I looked them up more online and I actually found out that they are based right here in AZ. They are one of the biggest marketing agencies (branched from Spot 200). Not to mention they were dubbed to be the fastest growing website online by Alexa.com in May ’08.
    Before I found the site, I had never heard of it before and after asking pretty much everybody I know about it; nobody really had ever heard of it… well, up until now.
    I highly recommend checking it out

  48. Avatar Christopher Prince Boucher says

    These are some great sites. I use them all quite frequently, however I’m surprised not to see E.Factor, http://www.efactor.com; a social network for entrepreneurs.

    Has anyone used this? If you have what is your opinion?



  1. […] Odden’s got a great thread going on his Internet Marketing Blog on how business is done via Social Networks, and which are the most influential. He’s set up a […]

  2. Not on Facebook? LinkedIn? Twitter? Why You Should Be — Bizresearch - Search Engine Marketing Blog says:

    […] close colleague of mine, Lee Odden of TopRank surveyed people to ask them which social networking tool is most effective for their business. I voted for Facebook, most recently as it’s brought about some new lead sources from […]