Continued from Part 1 of “Which Social Sites Should I Use?“:
Once you have established a strong following across these main five sites, you can consider participating in a few niche social sites based upon your industry, services or geographical location. The social properties you employ define your overall social persona. Subsidiary aspects of social media can be realized in terms of company branding, building company legitimacy and trust, and online reputation management.
Breakdown of "The Big 5"
Traditionally, Facebook was typically best for personal relationships and getting reacquainted with friends and acquaintances. You can also use it for work colleagues with whom you have personal relationships.
With the advent of Facebook Pages, businesses can now separate their personal and business faces into different "pages" You can think of this as a Yellow Pages advert promoting your business. It gives your viewers a chance to see some of your products and get to know a little about your company and their online social presence.
You can build Groups and add Events to further engage your followers. The success of a Page is based upon the number of "Likes" from visitors it receives. It is important to have a strong and reputable personal profile that will be connected to the Business Page to act as an administrator.
Facebook is best for "private networks" but is useful to generate an online business presence
This is the most popular site for maintaining your professional business networks. You can search and connect with former work colleagues, business partners and network with people that you may not know but may be in a related industry.
Different sections of the site allow for employee recruitment in order to facilitate the hiring of your next employee. This is a particularly great feature as people in your business network may be able to personally recommend an individual in your industry. You can list current promotions and have colleagues or clients recommend you which helps to build a more credible profile.
LinkedIn is your "professional network"
Twitter is a micro-blogging platform as it only allows for posts (or tweets”) limited to 140 characters. Although Twitter is not a website in the sense that Facebook or LinkedIn is, it is starting to adopt similar functionality. Recent additions of pictures, follower suggestions and groups seem to indicate that Twitter may be moving toward more of a destination site, rather than only a platform.
Twitter allows you to connect with a much broader group of people. Because you can follow someone that does not necessarily follow you back, connections can be one-way or two-way and allow you to broadcast status updates, links, etc without needing to have an involved conversation. However, those businesses that do pro-actively engage their followers find that Twitter is an effective medium for connecting with a large number of people and organizations without the formality of a "friend request".
Google+ is considered the company’s fourth foray into social networking. The New York Times have declared it as Google’s biggest attempt to rival the social network of Facebook, which had over 800 million users in 2011.
Google+ integrates social platforms such as Google Profiles and Google Buzz and introduces new services called Circles, Hangouts and Sparks. Google+ is currently available as a web site and is reported to be available soon as a desktop application. It is already available as a mobile application.
Google+ is best for advertising your business, as well as for public and private interactions
Created by three former members of PayPal and launched in 2005, YouTube offers a site for users to upload, view and share videos. Traditionally, YouTube did not seem to be advantageous to online business promotion and was considered a personal social site. Increasingly the video platform has become a standard medium for the promotion a business. By creating a YouTube account, users are able to create a public "channel" where owners can upload video files showcasing products and offer promotional information.
Remember that the larger your social network, the more time that will be involved to maintain it. Stick with the main 5 (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+) and choose only a few from the specialty niche oriented social groups. It is always best not to spread yourself too thin. It is better to have a closely formed network with a good number of quality followers than it is to have a larger network spread over many social sites that you are not engaged with.
You need to link accounts together to increase their effectiveness. Linking can become a bit complicated if you are dealing with many social sites. You may want to create a text document that shows where your feeds are being syndicated to (see example).
YouTube is akin to a "television audience"
In Part 3, we will discuss Linking Your Social Accounts