“Social media is no more than an extension of what we do naturally.”
MC Hammer, formerly-famous rapper
and creator of DanceJam, a social network for music/dance
with more than 100,000 visitors
Google is your friend. Using Google you can find your community, if you do a little thinking about the keywords that community members are likely to use.
For example, if your product category is small business accounting software, Google that term. Currently, that search, without quotes, yields more than 12 million results. OK, that’s a bit hard to put your arms around. If you try the term as a phrase, by surrounding it with quotes, you get under 800,000 results. That may seem a bit more manageable, but it still may not give the results you can use to locate places where your community is talking.
Incidentally, you’ll notice when you type a search string into Google, a little window drops down from the entry area with suggestions for similar searches and Google instantly shows you results based on what it thinks you’re looking for. You also may notice that after you do a search, little ads — call AdWords — appear on the right side of the search results. Refer to the next figure to see what we mean.
Figure 6 — Google Query with AdWords Sidebar — Example
You may find interesting search suggestions when Google offers them. If not, be sure to take a look at the AdWords on the right side. These organizations might be worth investigating, as they may share your cause, and could be good partners, or at least visiting their sites may give you ideas for how to find your community online.
Be aware that each time you click on an AdWord, somebody pays Google some money, from cents to dozens of dollars. If that bothers you, you can copy the Web address from the AdWord into your browser’s address bar and visit the site for free.
Back to our example. What you really want to do is to find people talking about small business accounting software on social media sites. So one thing you can do is to restrict your search to social media sites. This tip works with any type of site. Simply append a qualifier similar to the following to tell Google to only search a certain site:
Substitute any site after the colon and Google will only search the information it has indexed from that site.
Adding site:facebook.com to the Google query we’re working on produces 3,800 results. OK, now we’re getting somewhere. Here’s what we got when we ran that search:
Figure 7 — Restricting a Google Search to Facebook Only
From these results we can see that people are indeed talking about small business accounting software on Facebook. Following the various links yields a group entitled “DIY Tax Accounting Software group,” with more than a hundred members. If you’re make small business accounting software, you’ve just found a potential place to engage with your community.
You can repeat this exercise with other social media sites. Doing it with LinkedIn yields 206 people you’d probably like to know. Doing it with Twitter yields dozens of posts. Doing it with YouTube produces more than 575 links to videos.
You get the picture. Google is your friend, and using the site qualifier — and other advanced features available either by clicking Advanced Search up at the top of the page or clicking More on the left-hand column — you can tailor a search to find where your community is talking.
Find Your Community is the 18th in a series of excerpts from our book, Be a Person: the Social Media Operating Manual for Enterprises. The book (itself part of a series for different audiences), is available in paper form at http://bit.ly/OrderBeAPerson save $5 using Coupon Code 62YTRFCV
See the previous posts What is Social Media?, Social Sites Defined, Why Social Media? How is Social Media Relevant to Business? First Steps Toward a Social Media Strategy, and Decide What Your Business Will Do About Social Computing, pt. 1
 Google search for small business accounting software, with no quotes: bit.ly/poUVZM
 Google search for small business accounting software, with quotes: bit.ly/ocs9Sf