Facebook is obviously the best way to stay in touch personally with what’s going on in the lives of your friends and family. It’s the place where you can see how your buddies from high school & college are getting on with their lives. And while you’re logged in, you can also send new photos to your grandma to see. Oh, and naturally, there’s a lot of professional life happening on Facebook too. It’s huge and it covers all the bases.
As a business, if you’re trying to reach the largest, most widespread audience possible, then Facebook is the place to invest much of your time and energy. You can set up a “Page” where your clients, customers, friends, and fans can “Like” your business or organization and keep up with what you have going on.
Many folks get the “Page” and “Friend” thing mixed up on Facebook—and they’re very separate and very different from each other. Simply put, when you add a “Friend,” it’s a mutual thing—it enables you to follow that friend and that friend to follow you; you can interact on each others’ walls, etc. But when you do a “Page,” aka, a profile for your business on Facebook, anyone can see that page (a good thing for most businesses, right)—but you can only interact with these followers on your page—you cannot reach out to them via their personal walls, etc.
Facebook is an important part of many business’s social media toolkits, but it’s not for everyone. Many organizations can get by with just Twitter interactions or other social options, and don’t care for the style of interaction and increasing big-brother feeling of Facebook. Regardless, it’s a good idea to at least set up a basic profile page on Facebook where you can direct your visitors there to your website or other preferential social media networks.
Becoming more and more popular by the day, Twitter is the perfect place to stay on top of what’s happening right now—whether it’s what’s happing in the world, what’s happening on your favorite blogs, or what’s happing near home or with your friends. It reaches huge audiences, both personal and professional alike, and at the same time it’s really open and transparent. No need to “friend” everyone or be too picky.
Twitter is simple because it just works. Want to keep up with posts? Just log in and “follow” a few people, business, or other entities—they’re all treated exactly the same unlike with some other networks. You’ll see a chronological list of new tweets—the primary interface & functionality of twitter—from the group of people you follow in real time as they add.
Want to share on Twitter? No problem. It’s just as easy for you personally or on the behalf of your business or organization. Just sign up and start Tweeting. Follow a few and you’ll get a grasp of exactly how it works and what people tend to tweet about. Twitter is an awesome way to interact with your base of clients and customers—and just the same—it’s a great way for them to be able to find and connect with you. A nice way to create a special bond with your followers.
Bottom line on Twitter—it’s easy & probably the most versatile of the social media options right now. Thanks to the simplicity if its functionality, business and personal mesh seamlessly and it doesn’t feel awkward at all.
LinkedIn is professional…strictly professional. Probably the best way to look at LinkedIn is as a place to connect with people mutually and view their resumes and professional profiles. Casual users don’t do much with LinkedIn—if they even have profiles there at all. Most professionals do have accounts there at least, but that doesn’t mean they really use it often or to its fullest advantage.
So should you use LinkedIn for your business or organization? Sure—you can create what LinkedIn calls a “Company Page,” which is essentially a profile page for your business. Most LinkedIn users have personal, individual professional profile pages though. You or your employees might find this method of interaction compatible or maybe not.
One thing that does seem to work well for LinkedIn users is group discussion. You can create and join groups centered around a specific profession or topic and interact with other members in online conversation accordingly. This is popular for many freelancers and other niche business groups. LinkedIn is a great place to connect with pros and share your professional accomplishments at the same time, but it’s not really the best place to promote your website like many aim to do with social media.
Pinterest is raging in popularity growth right now. Until very recently, it was “invite-only,” which probably added some allure to the service initially amongst its passionate early adopters. But now, anyone can join and start pinning today.
The basic premise of Pinterest is that it is kind of like an online pin board (thus the name) where you can add snippets, usually represented by an associated photo, from pretty much anywhere across the web. These snippets are your pins and are viewable by those that see your profile. By default, everyone can see these pins—and other members of the service can re-pin your pins and they can follow you and your profile.
Many users of Pinterest probably never get around to adding any of their own pins—but rather, they just consume and view the pins of others. It’s quite catchy, and you can find categories for pretty much anything which suits many professional organizations and businesses very well. While Pinterest has a reputation of being a social network for the crafts, arts, and food genres, it’s certainly growing in depth and not limited to these whatsoever.
Businesses are adopting this service very quickly lately. The methods of how exactly they end up using it aren’t quite as established, but it would be wise to at least try it out and see how you might put Pinterest to creative use promoting your business or website. It’s only growing in popularity everyday!
It’s hard to describe Google + other than the fact that it is kind of a mashup of the other popular Social sites. It’s been around officially for about a year now, and it is continuing to increase in market share for sure. Most Google + users will probably already have profiles though with Twitter and/or Facebook (and seem to be more likely to actively use those two services too).
If your target audience is tech-oriented, then it might make good sense to use Google + on an active basis. There are other plusses—you can use the service to manage your social interactions effectively between personal and professional relationships—you’re in full control of who sees what—just add people and profiles to different categories (called Circles) and decide which Circle gets to see which posts & photos.
If you already use Google services heavily, you know that Google is strongly integrating Google + with these services, so for example, when you go to share photos online via Google’s Picasa service, you now do so via the Google + social platform. This makes a lot of sense and just kind of works for most Google users. Others might find it more complicated.
A couple of other things that Google + might be worth your time for include the fact that it is a good way to get noticed and hopefully better SEO ranks from Google when you allow your website’s pages to be +1’d (“liked”) via Google +. Many bloggers are also using a special Meta tag that associates a particular blog post with its Author’s Google + public profile. When you see profile pictures associated lately with Google search results, this is how this is accomplished. So there are definitely advantages to Google + for everyone out there. Most are unlikely to use it as a primary social network right away, but it is worth your effort to at least learn the ropes and see how it might work for you. Definitely has some very cool features.
There are hundreds—probably thousands actually—of other social media sites and networks out there that you can use. Sharing videos online and want to be able to interact via a community for these online videos? Then YouTube or Vimeo are the answer. There is a niche social media site for practically any place that there is a niche audience for that site. Unless you have good reason in mind on how and why you might use one of these niche networks, it’s probably not worth your time and effort—stick to the majors instead.
And be willing and ready to adapt to change. There will be new social sites that skyrocket in popularity. There are other social media sites that have gone by the wayside. MySpace was the first major social media site to practically disappear, but it won’t be the last.
Bottom line? Social Media is a great way to connect with others online. It’s good for business and it’s a great way to promote your website. Many folks find success by picking the one primary social media site that fits their needs and style the best, using that site as a primary place of social online interaction, and only then adding other social site profiles to compliment and point back to the one that is actively used. This is a good strategy to cover all the bases.
What social media sites work best for you?
Thanks to all