A good friend of mine and I went walking last weekend and the topic of Social Media became a big part of our conversation. She works in the IT department for a major medical company as a project manager. Curious about what I do, and wanting to write a novel herself someday, she asked me about the various Social Media platforms and the different uses for each.
Just What is Social Media?
Social Media is a conversation with text, pictures, graphics, video or a combination of all to promote a brand, image, or engagement. Some use Social Media simply as a way of reaching out to others or sharing photos, images, inspirational stories, every day happenings. Others use Social Media as a way of life: to promote branding and reputation, to sell, make money, keep in contact, develop a reputation. For whatever reason Social Media is used, there are reasons to use each platform.
Originally crafted by Mark Zuckerberg to rate women on campus, Facebook took off to become a part of our every day world. Facebook can be used to share information for personal or business purposes. In my line of work, Facebook is a must for anyone wanting to increase his or her web presence, drive traffic, and be noticed. Any business wanting to develop a reputation online must start off with a solid website and Facebook presence.
Your ultimate goal in starting your Facebook page is to engage people in useful information and to gather their trust. If you are a B2B or B2C, Facebook is a very useful tool to showcase what others are saying about you, your brand, and your product. Do not make the mistake of using Facebook solely to make a profit. In social media, we turn to brands we trust and we like. If our friends are recommending a product or service through Facebook, we are more likely to buy that which our friends endorse.
Be creative in your posts and use a variety of images, photographs, sayings, and video. Get to know your audience and give them what they want! And most importantly, be patient. Trust takes time.
LinkedIn has made so many changes these past months, and it’s really crucial to keep up with the trends. Linked In is a very powerful business tool to use to promote those you know in the business world and develop relationships among business people.
LinkedIn users can find jobs and also reach out to their connections for hiring information or background about a company. With a powerful LinkedIn presence, your future employers can actually seek you out if you have your information set with the proper key words. LinkedIn is a two-way tool to use for promoting yourself and relaying all of your background information and current projects that also allows others to look for what you have to offer.
Professional businesses should have a current and up-to-date LinkedIn company profile to remain professional and competitive. Businesses without LinkedIn profiles are often seen as not trustworthy, and if your future customer notices you do not have a Linked In presence, they may also wonder what else it is that you are not up-to-date with.
Setting up a professional LinkedIn presence takes time. And it is something you must nurture and grow; leaving it stagnant will hurt you as you will not show up in the search engines as easily and you will fall behind your competitors.
Originally, I had no interest in Twitter, nor did I see it as a valuable tool for business. I saw it as more of a resource to showcase what people are doing in everyday life and as a stream of conscious show and tell.
As a self-admitted Twitter addict, I find that Twitter is a very useful tool to use to gather information and share it at lightening speed. Twitter can be used to develop relationships and followings so that you can turn to your trusted colleagues and get information that they specialize in that you can use for yourself or your business. Twitter allows 140 characters only, so a little bit goes a long way. I often find myself jumping from post to link engaged in so much information. And when I find something that is really useful, I can retweet the content to my followers, post in on Linked In, share it on my Facebook page, or email someone a copy to the link.
Twitter is useful for personal information such as the latest goings on in the news, sports, entertainment, weather departments. I don’t always use Twitter for business; half of my posts that I like, follow, or tweet myself are inspirational sayings or thought provokers. I can find followers that have interests I share, such as soccer, animals, or children. I fill myself full of information on Social Media, but once in a while it’s nice to take a break and read tweets about other topics. Twitter is a very informal Social Media platform whose links are live for a very short time. Remember, Twitter is a scrolling of posts, always on the move.
Not a crowd favorite in my family unless you are under 16. I see the value of Instagram as it relates to the sharing of photos, and I can see some pretty clever uses for it to promote information. But in order to be successful with Instagram, you need a following and you need to engage with your followers on a regular basis. This could be a terrific use of advertisement if your brand relies on a very visual market. Make-up, jewelry, the latest culinary creations or drink concoctions would do well if you had that type of product or service and following. But since my time is limited, Instagram is not a social platform I find useful to my line of work.
Pinterest is a terrific sharing platform as well, and often geared toward women and families. We want to share visually what brands we like and when we like an image on a website, we “pin” that image to a “board” we’ve created on the Pinterest site. We can follow what others have pinned and others can follow us. It’s a virtual sharing of information and web images on a virtual bulletin board. Again, the idea is to follow those you like and trust and likewise, so that the most popular brands among your groups will most likely be the brands you tend to buy from or use the services of.
Again, this is not something I use, but according to Link Builders, Pinterest had 11.7 million followers as of February 2012.
You don’t have to be present on every Social Media platform
Keeping track of all of the different types of social media, and we didnt’ even touch on You Tube, is a tremendous task. And I tell my clients three things:
- Do what you do best and leave the Social Media Strategy to me or another trusted professional with SM experience
- Do not feel as if you have to engage in every Social Media platform
- Do not spread yourself thin by actively engaging in several SM platforms
Choose one or two that you know you like, understand, and can engage in. After all, Social Media is the sharing and engaging of information between people. Having an account but not using it is like have a website with no content. And THAT topic will have to be discussed another time.
Here is a very good article about that which I just discussed:
Let me know what you think, What other considerations should people have for these platforms?