Friday, February 8, 2013

What social network should I use?

There are so many social networks that it can be hard to decide what your business should invest time into.  While all social networks are social, they are not all created equal.  Depending on your business goals, personality, and product, you may find one social platform is more appropriate than another.

Let's break down the core purpose of the most popular social platforms.

  • Facebook - Facebook is designed to keep you connected with friends.  
  • LinkedIn - LinkedIn is designed to let you build your professional network.
  • Twitter - Twitter is designed as a micro-blog that lets you publish and share up to 140 characters of content.
  • Pintrest - Pintrest is designed to help you discover and collect interesting things from around the web.
  • YouTube - YouTube is designed to let you share video content.
  • MySpace - MySpace is designed to let you share and discover new music.
  • Google+ - Google+ is designed to let you recommend content to your friends.
Now, let's break down the most common business goals.
  • Increase Sales - Sales in this case can be products, services, or even blog readership.
  • Increase Traffic - Increasing traffic is the goal of being in front of more eyeballs... with the hope of increasing sales of course.
  • Increase Brand Awareness - It's important that people know you exist.  How else will they be able to form an opinion of you?
  • Provide Quality Customer Service and Support - Customer service isn't a commodity, so it can easily be leveraged as an advertising tool.
  • Reduce Ad Spend - Advertising is an expensive business.  A 10% cut in spending without dropping sales would be nice.
The challenge is to fit business goals into social platforms.  The reason everyone is so interested in social platforms, from a business perspective, is because of the sheer number of people hanging out in this "one" place.

In order to make the most of your social presence, it's important to understand that while social profiles don't directly cost anything, they do cost time and lots of it.  If you aren't a productive member of society, you get kicked out.  There's nothing worse than being kicked out of your customers' circle.

Because each profile takes a lot of effort, it is best to pick the one or two profiles that will actually help you achieve your business goals.  The interesting thing is that while most companies have similar business goals, they are not all suited for the same social platforms.

If you're in a business that creates "friends" and has something very visual to offer, like portrait photography, Facebook is a great place to link up with your customers and share photos with them.  They can then share with their friends.  Twitter on the other hand wouldn't give you this same flexibility.

If you are a writer that wants to increase your readership, you can use Twitter to drop some awesome one-liners and links to your books and blogs.  By customizing your profile summary and "following" your target readers, you can put yourself in front of a lot of people in a very short amount of time.  Facebook would actually work against you in this manner.

The really interesting things happen when you start combining multiple platforms.  You could use Twitter to connect with customers who need support and YouTube to post helpful videos.

If you're wondering how you can use social networks to help your business, let me know.  I'd be happy to share some ideas.