Which Social Network is Right for Your Business?

One of the questions I get asked most is about which social networks should a business use.

With all of the options available, how do you know which ones to choose?

As you might suspect, there is no one right answer. It all depends on your social media strategy and what you want to accomplish via the social web (i.e. provide customer service, find new business, drive traffic to your site, etc.).

Once you’ve taken the time to determine your goals and how you want to use social media, you can look at the various options and determine the right network one for your business.

While this isn’t a complete list, here is a quick run-down of some of the most popular social networks to help you determine which one is right for you:

Facebook

Facebook has more than 900 million users, so chances are good that your target audience spends time here. Although the user-base skews younger, the fastest growing demographic is for people over 45.

Facebook is great for customer engagement, testing ideas and getting feedback, and sharing coupons or deals. However, as Jason Falls aptly pointed out yesterday, people don’t go to Facebook to engage with your brand, they go there to check out pictures of their grandkids. That’s something to keep in mind if you focus your energy here.

Twitter

Even though the user-base for Twitter is much smaller, more than 40 percent of Americans see tweets through the media on a daily basis. That’s pretty stunning.

Twitter is fantastic for providing customer service, finding potential business opportunities, engaging with your community and developing relationships.

Even if you don’t use Twitter, you can still reap the benefits of it by using it’s search functionality to learn more about what people are saying about a topic or scope out your competitors.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is more than just an online resume. Yes, it’s more serious than other networks, but it offers a great way find and connect with professionals without all of the fluff.

LinkedIn also offers the ability to connect with people through groups. I have one client who gets most of their traffic from LinkedIn because the owner is an active participant in various industry groups.

Google Plus

There’s much debate about whether Google Plus is a viable option for businesses right now. Google is undoubtedly forcing businesses to think about Google Plus because it is so closely tied to search results. Even if your business isn’t using Google Plus, how you rank in search results is still affected by how people use the network.

Although there isn’t a ton of action on the social network itself, businesses may want to add a “+1” button to their site to give users the ability to easily share your company’s content.

YouTube

People love video, which explains why more than 4 billion videos are viewed on YouTube EVERY DAY.

Because YouTube is part of Google, there are great search engine benefits for having videos on YouTube. Also, adding video to your content mix, can help you appeal to a wider audience. If video is part of your plan, YouTube definitely needs to be in the mix.

Pinterest

Pinterest is a photo-lovers dream! It’s very visual, which is why food, fashion and crafts rank high among the content there. And, as a result, women dominate this network.

If you’ve got a visual business – photography, design, real estate, restaurants, stylists, retail – you might want to consider Pinterest, especially since it is driving more revenue per click than Facebook or Twitter.

Just Pick One

Although it may be tempting to rush out and create profiles on all of the social networks available, I encourage businesses, especially smaller ones, to just pick one network to start with.

That way, you can focus all of your time and energy mastering one network instead of several.

If you want more information, check out this infographic for a nice, visual comparison of some of the top social networks.

And, if you need a smart social media strategy for your business, drop us a line to see how we can help.

Does this help? Which social networks do you use for your business?

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  • http://bestoked.blogspot.com Luke Stokes

    Great post, Laura! I was just giving a friend some advice last night and will send this their way.

    I have a question though: Is there a problem with setting up a social media account on each network, even if you don’t use it right away? You could even point to your preferred network from that account. I like the idea of focusing and mastering one platform first, but I also think some people are only interested in their own network on their favorite platform. I like the idea of “going where the audience is” and it may not be on the profile you picked for your business.

    I don’t think cross posting is necessarily the answer, but having a presence at least lets your fans on that network know you exist.

    Thoughts?

    • http://www.flybluekite.com Laura Click

      Great question, Luke! 

      It often does make sense for businesses to set up accounts on various networks for brand preservation purposes. So, for example, even if you decided not to tweet at @foxycart:twitter , it would still be valuable for you to own that username so others don’t take it and in case you decided to use it down the road.

      You’re right – everyone has their own favorite platform. For instance, we know how much you love Google Plus, yet our friend @kacythedude:twitter does not. :) But, I don’t think businesses have to be on every network to try to appeal to everyone. Businesses should spend time where their audience is. If you, personally, like to spend time somewhere else, I think that’s great. But, social media for business should be about being where your people are and what makes sense strategically for your business.

      Does that make sense? Did I understand your question correctly?

      • http://bestoked.blogspot.com Luke Stokes

        Great response, thanks Laura! As for Google+, I haven’t been too excited with it lately… time will tell.

        If a business does have an audience on each network, what then? Should some be ignored until the network with the largest audience is served well? As an example, we’ve been toying with the idea of taking the beautiful illustrations on our website and putting them on Pinterest. Would be we be active on Pinterest? No, because the demographics don’t fit our primary target audience. That being said, if some of our audience is there, why not at least put up a page for them to share?

        Along similar lines, we noticed that the people who like us on Facebook are different than those who +1 G+ posts or retweet our Twitter account. “Our” audience might be somewhat represented everywhere. What then?

        I’m not saying we’re doing it right, but we’re at least represented on the major networks and if someone attempts to contact us via their preferred network, we’ll be listening. That’s probably more of a “customer support” strategy though. The marketing / custom relationship strategy is a big part of the equation, which is why people should hire you! :)

        • http://www.flybluekite.com Laura Click

          Great questions, Luke! You’re definitely taking the time to think this through, which is great!

          I don’t think it’s bad for a business to be on multiple social networks. In fact, that’s often a good thing. However, I see many fall down because they’re starting from zero and trying to master multiple networks at a time and then abandon them all. That’s why I often suggest to start with one or two.

          I think you’re approaching this the right way. I don’t think you need to focus on Pinterest, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to share some of your content there. It’s funny – I’m starting to get some traffic from Pinterest, but I’ve never even shared any of my content there. Does it make sense for me to invest time in Pinterest for my site? Probably not. But, people can certainly share stuff there.

          All that said, you’re testing and trying out the formula that works best for you.
          You’re smart to be listening where people are sharing content. That’s always a good approach. 

          I could go on and on, but I think you’re definitely thinking about this the right way!

          Laura

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