Like it or not, getting the most out of your social networking experience is more complicated than just posting status updates randomly and seeing what sticks. Is Facebook the best place to be? Is Google+ more your style? What’s the best use for Twitter? Not sure how to get results on LinkedIn? When using social media to achieve specific business or personal objectives, it’s useful to recognize that each platform is unique, and uniquely suited for different levels of interaction and achieving different outcomes. In this blog post, I decided to focus on the four biggest social sites and share some thoughts you might consider when deciding which sites to use.
Facebook is the granddaddy of all social networks. Boasting the largest number of users from a wide demographic (845 million active users, 483 million users active on a daily basis), it’s hard to ignore a site with so many people in one place. Facebook is best used for interacting on a more personal level with your contacts. Business owners can capitalize on such a large user base to create brand awareness, share information about your business, build a following of your target audience and spread the word about new products and offerings, events or promotions. Facebook pages offer an excellent opportunity to interact directly with your target audience and build brand loyalty. However, building the right following will take time, effort and planning.
Often described as a micro-blogging network, Twitter allows its users to send short updates of a maximum of 140 characters; referred to as “tweets.” The site has over 300 million users that post over 300 million tweets per day. Twitter is best used for posting short, to-the-point updates about your company, monitoring conversations about your brand or industry, interacting with other users and followers, sharing information and photos, promoting your products and events and finding potential customers. Twitter also employs the use of “Hashtags,” which are similar to searchable keywords, and allows users to share information during events of interest or follow conversations on specific topics. Businesses are allowed to set up Twitter accounts, as the service does not distinguish between business and personal accounts.
Sometimes referred to as the Facebook for business, LinkedIn has over 150 million members and over 2 million companies that have Company Pages; making it the largest professional social network online. LinkedIn provides professionals the opportunity to create profiles and increase their professional contacts and connections. It is best used for branding yourself, displaying your professional accomplishments and expertise, making connections and building relationships. What really makes LinkedIn appealing to business owners is that its members are professionals with a business frame of mind. While Facebook is a place for interacting on a more personal level, LinkedIn users are there to conduct business. It is a good opportunity to meet other like-minded business owners and professionals for the purpose of sharing information, forming partnerships and more.
Google+ is a relatively new social network. It now has over100 million users and was created by the search giant Google. As Google implements more social results into its search, SEO experts are saying that Google+ is becoming increasingly relevant to your appearance in search results. That alone makes it a network worth looking at. The site’s top feature is the use of “Circles,” which allows you to organize your contacts into different groups (friends, acquaintances, business connections, etc.) and target your messages to each group separately. There is also integration with YouTube, Picasa and other Google services. Businesses can also set up a Google+ Page that allows them to connect with their followers … much like Facebook.
It’s also important to have a plan for your social media and to stay focused because the lines between “working” and “playing” are easily blurred on social media websites. When using social media to achieve a specific objective, using the right social media platform in a deliberative way will increase your chance of achieving the result you’re looking for.
What’s your favorite networking site, and how does it help you meet your business objectives?