What Social Media should I use for my business? This is a question that is asked often and to which there is no right and wrong answer. My response, when asked this question, is always ‘Now this is entirely up to you.’ This is because each business is different and each target audience is different. There are pros and cons for every social media platform available. The main thing to remember is that you choose the most appropriate social media platform for your business and your target audience.
Let’s take a look at three of the more popular social media networks.
Widely used, Facebook has become a well-known social media website. The aim of which is to create an online network of ‘friends’. Users register with Facebook.com to create a personal profile. They then add other users as ‘friends’ where they can send in-site messages to each other and post status updates that highlight their ‘news’ at any one time. Another feature is that users can upload and share photos and videos, which makes Facebook have a visual appeal.
From a business perspective, Facebook has Company Pages which can be ‘liked’ by fans. This has enabled businesses to promote themselves, their products and services to their target audience. Photos and videos can be added to status updates and the aim (from a business marketing perspective) is to engage with your target audience and to create content that encourages your target audience to share with their friends in order to grow the number of fans that ‘like’ your company page. Creating fun, friendly and informal content is the main aim behind having a business page on Facebook – you want your brand to connect with people when they aren’t necessarily on a ‘business / work’ frame of mind.
Twitter is a cross between a social network and a microblogging platform. Users create an account with Twitter.com, they ‘follow’ other users that are of interest to them with the aim to gain their own ‘followers’ (users that are interested in them). The idea behind it is to share text messages with other users with the aim of building a network of like-minded users that have similar interests to you. By developing a network of users with similar interests, content is more readily shared to ‘followers’ of your followers and so you can reach a wider audience with your messages.
You need to be able to get your message across succinctly as the text messages (called ‘tweets’) have a maximum of only 140 characters. Ideal for business use, as the snippet-like information being shared is short, sharp and to the point. These snippets are ideal for sharing news headlines, launching new product lines and announcing sales, as well sharing general everyday business news. The text messages can also include photo and video content and you can also contact your followers directly with direct messaging.
LinkedIn is mainly a professional networking service that aims to build business connections between users. Users create an account (both free and paid for accounts are available) at LinkedIn.com by creating a profile that includes details about their professional lives and careers to date. They are then able to ‘connect’ with other users that they know (co-workers, ex-colleagues, employers, etc.) in order to develop social connections in their areas of expertise. To ‘connect’ with users that you don’t personally know you need to be ‘introduced’ via one of your connections – a very similar concept to traditional business networking.
The benefit of LinkedIn as a business networking platform is its use of ‘Groups’. Users can join (and create) networking groups in which they have an interest, where they can discuss ideas with other group members. By being members of these ‘groups’ users are able to look for, as well as advertise business (and job) opportunities. The main advantage of this is that users are able to have valuable online conversations with interested parties. Being very heavily focused towards business, this is an ideal platform if you are looking to widen your network of business connections.
Facebook tends to be on the more personal side of online networking. By building up a network of ‘friends’, the aim to is to create a wide network of ‘fans’ for your business page. The content tends to be more friendly and approachable, less heavily business focused. With LinkedIn, you tend to ‘connect’ in a more professional manner as the atmosphere is more business-like and formal. The aim is to network with like-minded business people in order to share connections and ideas. Whereas Twitter sits somewhere in the middle. Due to its nature of short text messaging, it appeals to a business audience but because of the fast nature of tweets, it also appeals to people from a social angle, as content can be shared quickly and easily.
These are just three of the most popular social media networks out there, in my next post, we’ll take a look at Google+, Pinterest and Instagram.