The big question – is social media right for us?

There is a growing number of social media networks out there and although they are all good, depending on your business focus and most importantly your time, you are better off to concentrate your efforts on one or two, and for the very keen, all three of the key players and then expand when or if time and/ or budget allows.

Where should we get started?

For small B2B businesses that do not have a dedicated social media person or consultant, I have decided to focus on the three major networking sites that have the greatest voices: Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn and I will also touch on Google+ and Pinterest – two other prominent names you may have heard about in social networking.

What is the difference and which one should I explore first?

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Facebook: I recommend starting with Facebook as it is the largest with over 900 million active users, more than half of them using Facebook on a mobile device.  Most of us are familiar with this site so it’s a natural to use your knowledge to move into the business side of this site. When it was first launched it was a social networking service with a focus on personal relationships.   It is a great place to connect with friends, old school mates, family and much more.  However, since the launch of Facebook for Business, Facebook has now become a place to connect for business. We have all seen and heard advertising for B2C companies’ Facebook sites, but if done right, it can also be a rewarding networking site for B2B businesses as well.

Quick Facebook Tips:

  • Create a company page and populate it with your branding images and copy
  • The company Facebook site is NOT connected to your personal page (if you have one)
  • Populate the page as frequently as possible using a variety of media (video, images, links and posts)
  • Take advantage of free Facebook Business (Fan) Pages and consider paid advertising
  • There are some great analytics available on this site, but to take full advantage of them, you’ll need to have a minimum of 30 ‘Likes’. This number might sound low, but small B2B businesses may have a difficult time getting to this number. There are several techniques one can use to gain “likes” and I will discuss this in a future blog.

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LinkedIn: LinkedIn is in my second spot because as a business professional you may have already been exposed to or even have a profile on this site.  Moving to the next step of business pages should be fairly painless. LinkedIn is a professional social networking website which is mainly used for professional networking.  LinkedIn reports more than 150 million registered users in more than 200 countries and territories.  This is where you can connect with your business connections as well as their connections.

Advanced searches will map your route, via your connections, to both companies and key executives that you may wish to engage with.  If your contacts change jobs or positions, you will be alerted which allows you to keep up to date on all the happenings. Your profile becomes your online resume (expertise) complete with special skills and recommendations from others. Yes, LinkedIn also has pages for your company and a place to promote your events, advertise and join discussions and groups. A LinkedIn company page gets listed in Google’s and LinkedIn’s search engines, allows others to follow your company’s updates, and gives you a place to promote services and products.

Quick LinkedIn Tips:

  • To create a company page, you need to have a LinkedIn profile first
  • On your profile you need to have an email address listed with your company domain. 
  • You cannot set up a company page using free email services like yahoo, gmail or hotmail.
  • Once you have a personal profile, create a company page and populate it with your branding images, fonts, and content
  • Go to the products and services tab and add detail about your company with links and even video links to relevant information
  • Once the page is set up, you’re ready to invite followers. You can add a “follow” button to your website, blog, email or other promotional materials
  • Populate the page as frequently as possible because every time you update the page, a notice will go out to your followers
  • There are some great analytics available on this site
  • Investigate the paid advertising opportunities
  • Join industry groups or ask others for advice and start a discussion

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Twitter: I have left Twitter to the end because it requires the most amount of time and commitment from you.  Twitter is an online social networking service and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read text-based posts of up to 140 characters, known as “tweets”. It was created by Jack Dorsey and launched in July 2006. The service rapidly gained worldwide popularity, with over 500 million  users as of 2012.  No other network has the ability to distribute information to so many in so short a time. 

Quick Twitter Tips:

  • Tweet frequently and regularly. If all you can afford in terms of time is a tweet once a week, then this network is not a good fit for your business. 
  • There are many opportunities to follow people, but what you want is followers so your voice will be heard.  So clearly define your tweet personality and define the parameters.
  • Your network of other business owners and decision-makers do not want to hear about the dinner you had last night, but they might want to hear about a tip of insight that can help them in their business. 
  • A tweet is only 140 characters long, so you need to write precisely and concisely to get your personality and information communicated.
  • Stay true to the goal to share your message, drive people to your website, and discover new and interesting people, companies, and news.

If you have the time and interest, these two sites are growing in users and popularity.  Here is a brief overview for your consideration.

 

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Google+: Google+ is freewheeling like Twitter and yet conversational like Facebook. It makes it very easy to arrange your contacts into lists, which they call circles and you can post (share) specific updates to one or more circles. Google+ has 250 million plus users and is well indexed by Google searches, so it might be a site worth considering. 

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Pinterest: Pinterest is a pinboard-style social photo sharing website that is quickly gaining speed. It allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections such as events, interests, hobbies, and more. Users can browse other pinboards for inspiration, ‘re-pin’ images to their own collections and/or ‘like’ photos. Pinterest is not only a great visual representation of your business; it also has the extra bonus of having SEO value. This is another site you might consider, depending on your business goals and objectives.

So which of these are you willing to try?  Which ones do you want to explore further? Leave me a comment or send me an email to let me know if this blog was helpful in demystifying the social networking sites and giving you some quick tips to get started.

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