Wikipedia refers to Social Media as “the means of interactions among people in which they create, share, and exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks”.
Most of us know it as Facebook, Twitter and the mass of other computer networks which have sprung up over the last few years enabling us to share everything from important news to what we had for breakfast this morning.
We’re not going to attempt to look at all the major networks here. Some of the lesser known ones such as Tumblr and Stumbleupon are still huge with many millions of users, and some others have specialist audiences. There are also vast networks in other languages such as Weibo (China) and Orkut (Brazil and India).
So which of these networks should your business try to capitalise on? You certainly shouldn’t attempt to maintain a presence on too many of them, and in reality unless your company has a specialist technical marketing requirement, 2 or 3 will do. At No Worry Web whilst we post to the all of these for completeness, in reality only Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn are of major concern to us because of the type of business which we are in. Lets look at key points of the major networks here.
Facebook, started at Harvard University as a simple photo comparison and comments site, and is now the largest of these networks, with over 1 billion active users. It is focused on private individuals but companies are able to operate “Pages” which enable them to promote their products and services. If your business sells directly to consumers, you need to be active on Facebook, interacting with your customers and offering them a voice to comment on your offerings. If however your are selling to other businesses Facebook can be less useful and you may find Twitter more beneficial.
Twitter is a “micro-blogging” network which enables its users to send and read text-based messages of up to 140 characters. I think of Twitter as a news feed which can be used to share information and links quickly and easily with other users who “follow” you. In business this means that you can build up a network of other business users who are potentially interested in what you have to offer, and keep in touch with them by sharing comments about, and links to, blogs and other web information. Importantly the information you share should not be a stream of your own publicity but mostly articles and information which your followers may find useful, occasionally accompanied by a promotional item.
Everything about Twitter is pared down to the minimum, so there is little opportunity to add copious information about your company on your twitter page like there is on LinkedIn or Facebook. However despite that you can make your Twitter page look very individual, and full of useful information with just a few minutes work, and we’ve shared how in this video showing how you can Pimp Your Twitter Page.
This is Google’s answer to Facebook with many similar features. It appears to have more of a business focus, at least in the UK, but is relatively low profile compared to Facebook and Twitter. However don’t ignore it just because of this, remember Google’s pre-eminent standing in the search industry. It will pay for your business to at least have a presence, and to have a Google Places entry. You can also promote your blog using Google’s authorship links with your Google+ page. which you can find out more about by reading our post Get Your Photo on Google Search. As with Facebook you will need to have a personal profile in order to operate business “Pages”.
LinkedIn is a site for professional networking and focuses on connections between people in the business world, and on employment search and selection. If your business operates in the business to business environment it is worth making sure you have a presence here. Again you will need to register as an individual and can then operate comprehensive “Pages” for your company. By joining “Groups” you can connect with others with similar interests and get your message shared across surprisingly large numbers of people.
Pinterest is a pin-board style photo sharing website, which allows users to create and manage theme based image collections such as events, interests, and hobbies. It is possible for your business to operate “Pages” which act a little like a virtual shop front and this can work well in promoting your goods. If your business is in the creative industries or has a product which is photogenic it’s well worth exploring Pinterest, otherwise it may be better to put more focus on another network.
Clearly we don’t have time or space here to go into more detail on these and all the other social media networks but hopefully this has given you a brief overview. If you’d like more help please Contact Us.