Which social media sites should you use?
Social media:ten years ago a novelty; today a necessity. As a content writer, using social media is essential for getting my content out there. And there’s no shortage of sites to choose from, which leads to the question: Which sites are best?
I recently talked with SEO specialist Mike Morgan and virtual assistant Justine Parsons. They both work extensively in the social sphere, so I was interested in their thoughts on five of the best-known social media sites: Facebook, Linkedin, Google +, Twitter and Pinterest.
I am also interested in your thoughts, so please leave your comments at the end of this post.
Dip your feet in before you jump
When I first began using social media, I must admit that I really didn’t have a clue — I learned through trial and error. Over time, though, I began to get the hang of it and realised each platform has its own unique qualities.
Mike: “Social media sites all have different types of people and different applications… if you target the wrong platforms, you’ll waste a lot of time and money.” Mike says that it pays do do some self analysis around your business and who your customers are. “This is good on a number of levels, not just on social media but business in general.”
Justine agrees. She says that before you put up a profile, it’s a good idea to take time to watch what’s going on. “Look at who’s engaging and what sparks engagement… read blogs about social media and about your type of business,” she says. Doing this, says Justine, is a good way to “dip your feet in” and learn a lot without getting confused by all the “noise.”
As a content writer working in the B to B space, I don’t use Facebook that much. I find it to be less about business and more about fun. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just doesn’t work that well for what I do. I do, however, use it for less business-type posts. For example, recently I travelled to the Bay of Islands to write some travel stories, so I posted pictures of where I’d been.
Justine: “People on Facebook are unwound and don’t have their business hats on so much.” Justine finds that Facebook works well for B to C businesses. However, as Facebook moves more and more towards user pays, she says it’s becoming “really hard work.”
Mike agrees that Facebook is good for B to C, particularly for aspirational products like luxury travel or motor vehicles. “Brands like Ford have done particularly well with Facebook,” he says.
Both Mike and Justine agree that Facebook is generally less beneficial for B to B businesses, though it is a good platform for engaging with customers and handling inquiries.
Summary: Best for B to C, particularly for aspirational products like travel, luxury cars and wine.
I’ve made lots of good connections on Linkedin with customers and others in my industry. What I like most, is that it is business focused, free of trivial distraction — the business person’s Facebook.
Mike says that up to a year ago, people used Linkedin mainly as a place to “hang their CV” and didn’t know what else to do with it. “People now realise that it’s more effective as a communications tool for building networks of potential collaborators or clients — people who will be generally useful in business,” he says.
Justine says that Linkedin isn’t so good for B to C businesses, but it is very good for connecting with people in her industry. She enjoys the group discussions: “If I have a problem I’ll post it and get great advice,” she says.
Summary: Best for B to B; effective for building networks of potential collaborators and clients.
Launched in just 2011, Google + is pretty new. To be honest, I only signed up because it was Google, and feared that if I didn’t, there might be repercussions from an SEO perspective. After talking to Mike and Justine I’m glad I did.
Mike: “Google + is essential if you are a content publisher… even if you don’t publish content, building a Google + profile will be important for the future.” Mike says that as of early 2012, Google started featuring authorship. Priority is now given to people who have a highly-functional Google + page, meaning having lots of circles, and your author picture is shown in search results.Sites with authorship are featured over others.
Justine agrees with the importance of Google + from an SEO perspective. From a practical point of view, though, she says she hasn’t received as many good leads as in Linkedin, but the leads have usually been good ones. “Quite often connections from Linkedin will connect on Google + on a more personal level,” she says.
Summary: Essential for SEO; Google gives priority to those with a highly-functional Google + page
When I started out I didn’t see the point of Twitter. However, next to Linkedin, it is now my second favourite platform. First and foremost it’s excellent for keeping up to date because I’m able to follow other content writers from around the world and read and share their content. Now that I have built up a solid amount of my own content, I have found that those whose content I read and share are reciprocating by reading and sharing my content.
Twitter is Mike’s favourite and he believes it’s useful for just about every type of business. “The beauty of Twitter is that it is the fastest and most powerful information portal out there,” he says.
Justine says that Twitter has been great for sharing content and furthering connections that she’s made elsewhere. She recommends using lists to categorise tweets. “It’s much quicker than email feeds because you can just scan through a list,” she says.
Mike: “It is definitely a sell-free zone, so you don’t want to be self-promoting on Twitter.” Mike says to be effective you must consistently give value and be generous. “Find people who are doing good stuff out there and share it. Don’t be afraid to promote them. Over time, people will recognise you and your generosity and start to share your content,” he says.
Summary: Great for most business types; it is the most powerful information portal there is.
Justine agrees that it is good for businesses that have a visual product and points out that posts are much longer lasting than on sites like Twitter and Facebook. “Once you put a pin there, it’s there,” she says.
Mike: “It can be very addictive… it’s great for visual brands, like food, fashion and travel, particularly those that market to women.”
Summary: Great for visual products like food, fashion and travel; posts are longer lasting.