Almost every week I hear about some new—at least to me—social media platform that I should be using to promote my business. Practically everyone has heard about Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+, at least in passing. Your time is valuable and unless you have the time and money to hire an employee to take care of your social media for you, you will need a social media marketing agency. Of course, even that will involve some time and money on your part.
You should know some basic information about the most commonly used social media platforms used by business before you attempt to use them for marketing. Each platform has a different focus and if you start with that knowledge in mind, you will have much greater success.
Facebook is the most popular social media platform. It can be used successfully in business as is evidenced by big brands likeCoca-Cola, which has almost 85 million likes. On the other hand, if you look at the other top 25 pages in Facebook, Coca-Cola is the only business brand besides Facebook which isn’t in the entertainment industry. When you think of Facebook, you should think of people and relationships. This is the place to interact with your customers, to listen in on what they like or don’t like.
With Twitter you are limited to 140 characters to get your message across. Most Twitter users don’t like sales messages so only sprinkle them into your tweets very infrequently. Twitter is about perceptions, feelings, moments in time. It’s a great place to find out how you are doing. You need to strike a good balance between casual and professional in this space.
Everyone who knows Pinterest knows Pinterest is about pictures. Pinterest allows you to have both personal and business accounts. They currently both have the same features. Differences include the verification of your website to show pinners that you are a trustworthy source. There is also a Pin It button you can add to your website to make it easy for people to pin from it. In addition, there are web analytics to see what pinners like best.
Although off to a slow start compared to Facebook, Google+ continues to gain followers, particularly outside of the U.S. If Facebook is about people, Twitter about perceptions and Pinterest about pictures, Google+ is about passions. More than any other social media platform, Google+ can help you connect with others in communities of common likes, beliefs, causes, etc. Google+ is integrated with other Google applications giving you even more power and connectivity. One of the coolest features of Google+ is Google Hangouts. You can use this feature to conduct meetings or seminars with up to 10 people or record them to YouTube where they are available to unlimited numbers of viewers.
Launched in 2003, LinkedIn was slow to take off. By 2010, however, it had 90 million members and over 1,000 employees worldwide. As it turns 10 this year (2013), LinkedIn has over 225 million members with two new members every second! In my opinion, LinkedIn is best used to make connections with other businesses or potential employees/employers. The founders were thinking of calling their product Colleaguester but thought it sounded odd. The odd name, however, is a good description of the purpose of LinkedIn. Staying with “p” words, I’d say LinkedIn was about partnerships.
So which social media platform is the best one for you? The answer, of course, is “it depends….” Who do you wish to interact with, why do you want to interact, how and where do you want to interact. Is your focus people (Facebook), perceptions (Twitter), pictures (Pinterest), passions (Google+) or partnerships (LinkedIn)? You may choose to focus on only one of the platforms or maybe all five of the ones discussed here. There are dozens more you can explore that may fit your business niche even better. Do you homework and then get social!