The Big Four
Having trouble navigating the social media landscape? Do you find that your social media strategy across the four biggest platforms: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube, is lacking? Look no further, we provide the information here to help you decide which social media channels are appropriate for your small business. Below we provide you with a quick download into each platform’s pros and cons, as well as tips and examples of businesses and individuals that have used these platforms effectively:
*Disclaimer: these are not listed in order of preference or importance.
The Skinny on Facebook: A social networking site that boasts 640 million users and is available to anyone over the age of 13 with a valid email address.
Pros: Facebook boasts the largest user base of any social media platform in the world and offers businesses the ability to dynamically interact with/respond to customers. This includes posting videos, blog posts, contests, sponsoring events and crowd sourcing for idea generation to its Facebook page. See Social Media Examiner’s List of the “Top 10 Facebook Pages and Why They’re Successful.”
Cons: Facebook has dealt with numerous privacy issues since the site was launched in early 2004, most recently dealing with the Federal Trade Commission and their recent inquiry into Facebook’s privacy policies (Bloomberg Businessweek, May 16). Small businesses need to be vigilant about customer inquiries/complaints. Negative posts to a brand’s/company’s Facebook page that are not addressed in a timely fashion can have negative consequences for that brand.
The Skinny on Twitter: Twitter is a micro-blogging and social networking tool that allows users to interact with their followers in real-time in 140 characters or less.
Pros: Twitter empowers businesses to speak and engage in real-time with their customers. Customer inquiries, deals, promotions and events can all be distributed and addressed through this channel. Twitter is the easiest and cheapest way (re: free) to drive traffic to your website and increase your business’s brand equity.
Tip: Think outside the confines of the 140-character box. If a response requires a longer-form response, don’t be afraid to send two successive messages in a row or in other words, carry your message into a second tweet. This doubles your message capacity and shows the customer that his/her tweet is important to you.
Cons: Twitter is a real-time tool and thus requires measured, well-crafted tweets. Offensive and/or untimely tweets can lead to negative press/reactions and subsequent damage to your company’s brand (see: Kenneth Cole and American Red Cross). Be sure to entrust your social media responsibilities to an employee who will handle customer complaints with tact and professionalism.
The Skinny on LinkedIn: LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network, with over 100 million members.
Pros: LinkedIn is the easiest way to promote both your personal brand and your company’s brand. LinkedIn provides small businesses with a forum to connect with consumers via LinkedIn groups, prospect and vet potential employees and share your work with others in your industry. Every small business should set up a company page to bring your company, its employees and your services to life.
Tip: Don’t be a robot on LinkedIn. Too many users “speak” in the third person (for search engine optimization purposes) and generally sound like someone you would rather not interact with. Instead, open up your company’s page and your personal page to your interests/hobbies and favorite quotes. See Steve’s post for LinkedIn advice: 10 Ways To CRUSH IT on LinkedIn.
Cons: LinkedIn provides users with limited interactivity in comparison to Twitter and Facebook. Although more and more people are using LinkedIn Answers and joining and participating in group discussions, this platform does not operate in real-time like other social networking platforms.
The Skinny on YouTube: YouTube is a video sharing site where users can upload and share videos. This platform is the number one video search engine in the world and number two search engine in the world (in terms of query volume).
Pros: YouTube provides your business with an opportunity to share information with (potential) customers via video. Creating a YouTube channel instantly brings your small business into the world of “shareability.” YouTube is sticky: the average user spends 15-25 minutes per day on the site. YouTube fosters sharing: more than 400 tweets per minute contain a YouTube link and on Facebook, over 150 years worth of YouTube videos are watched every day. YouTube is enormous: As of February, 2011, YouTube has 490 million unique users worldwide per month. (Source: Mashable)
Here are five examples of 5 brands that “get” YouTube (Source: Mashable) and previous stories (below) from Get Busy on how one student and one author have leveraged YouTube to promote their respective brands/products:
Cons: The pros can actually be its cons. Videos are shared more than any other form of content online and as a result, companies must be careful about what they post and also monitor the web for videos with mentions of their company. Protecting your company’s brand online is the name of the game and this is as prescient as ever with video sharing on YouTube.
What Do You Think?
What did we miss? We would love to hear about your experiences with the above social media platforms and examples of how you have leveraged them to achieve success in your business.
Tune in Next Week for Part II of this series, “The Social Media Download: The Platforms You Haven’t Heard of”