As a small business owner, you’ve probably asked yourself this question. With so many social networks out there, and more joining the list every day, it can be downright intimidating to choose the right one(s) and get started. This post will focus on the big 5 – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and the relative newcomer and everyone’s favorite right now, Pinterest.
Without a doubt the largest social network on the web, with something like a gazillion users, a major motion picture detailing its rise, and now a $100 Billion IPO, everyone in the world has heard of Facebook. So, as a business owner, you think more eyeballs = better ROI…right? Well, maybe not. Typically, Facebook is utilized by individuals connecting with friends and colleagues. This mindset of person-to-person, casual interaction, limits the effectiveness of most B2B efforts on Facebook. B2C companies on the other hand have more success with this, as it’s not uncommon for Facebook users to Like their favorite consumer brands…it’s basically a status symbol. Millions of people Like Coca-Cola, BMW or their favorite handbag brand, not their HR Company or their web development company.
Twitter has grown exponentially since its inception. Users share ideas, links and images 140 characters at a time. While the majority of tweets are utter nonsense or completely useless, B2B and B2C companies have found success here. Connecting with thought leaders within an industry, interacting with competitors or customers, and giving clients the ability to gain instant feedback have all helped Twitter become a necessary part of a content marketing strategy. The time it takes to run and monitor a twitter account can be pretty nominal with the right tools, so it’s a good bet for any business. Remember, twitter shouldn’t be used as a 1 way megaphone…nobody will care. Share useful articles, talk about others, and participate in conversations.
Without a doubt, LinkedIn is strictly a B2B social network. Professionals use LinkedIn to connect on a business level with colleagues, clients, and people they have worked with. Because users are in a business mindset when they are on the network, B2B efforts can be effective and useful. The important point to remember here is that you’re not selling while you’re on this network. Answer questions, solve problems, become the expert in a group of people and your efforts should be rewarded.
Note: Google+ shut down on April 2, 2019. Here's a checklist to remove Google+ from your marketing.
Google+ is Google’s social network. Depending on which articles you read, it is either dying or thriving. It’s hard to say what the network will become, but it is important you keep an eye on it. Google is using data it gathers from the network and plugging it into its search algorithm to help craft search engine results pages. The more you share on Google+, the better the odds of ranking for particular terms…or at least that’s what it looks like so far. All signs point to the fact we'll see more and more integration in the future, so it is probably wise to set up your account now.
Taking the Internet by storm, Pinterest exploded onto the social networking scene due to its visual nature and simplicity. The user base has grown extremely quickly, so one again may fall into the “more eyeballs = more leads” mentality. Before you go jumping into Pinterest though, make sure you have a clear strategy and understanding of what is typically successful here. Highly visual elements dominate, so your content may need overhauled to fit. There have been stories of B2B and B2C success here, but the majority of those all revolve around certain industries. Arts and crafts, recipes, fashion, and home décor are among the top items here, so tread lightly if you’re outside of those industries.