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?

Advice on 5 social media sites

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.”

Facebook

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.

Linkedin

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.

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Google +

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

Twitter

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.

Pinterest

Pinterest is very much a visual medium, so as my business is all about words, I don’t use it much.

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.

What do you think? If you like this post please share and leave your comments.

  1. Hi Andrew,

    Thanks very much for featuring my comments in this post!

    Social media has become a very powerful way for people to market a business but there is a large learning curve involved.

    There are a number of incredible resources out there from social media blogs to free online tools to webinars and white papers that allow you to learn from exceptional social media thought leaders.

    My advice to anyone launching a social media presence is to study, study, study and test everything you learn.

    Most importantly, do not give up after a few short months – this is a long term strategy and the results will only begin to grow with consistency and commitment.

    1. Hi Mike

      Thanks for the feedback and the insight you gave for the post. I certainly agree with you about on-going learning because social media is such a new and fast-moving thing. You can learn something new every day.

  2. Great article Andrew! Google+ is one that I’ve really lagged on, and it’s probably because I was immersed in social media in a personal way before I started a company, so I already had preconceived ideas of what would be effective. I am seeing as Mike said, from a content publishing point of view it is an important platform. Will utilise it more!

  3. Nice article Andrew.

    Like any other marketing effort, social needs to be based on a sound understanding of not only who your primary audience is and what their needs and drivers are. Also a well defined sales/engagement funnel. If you know what point in this process people are engaging with you and where – you are better able to put in place mechanisms to move them from just chatter to something more meaningful.

    1. Thanks Sandra

      You make some good points. I guess we need to remember that social media is a marketing channel and most of what we know about traditional marketing applies.

  4. Thanks Andrew, it was fantastic to finally talk to you over the phone following blog comment exchanges. That for me is what social media is about, increasing connections one at a time. I wouldn’t have met you if you hadn’t commented on a couple of posts!

    It’s very easy to forget that social media is about the person reading your tweet, update, comment or discussion. With the huge audience available it comes down to being able to connect with that person seeing your content and creating a conversation (with the goal of creating a relationship … online and offline) with that person.

    Mike is a great example of the type of connections I look for: sincere, anti self-promotion, personable, sharing and helpful. He is not my ‘prospect profile’ (and important not to look to connect with prospects only) but establishing a relationship with him has led to referrals and more importantly, someone I can talk to from time to time and share ideas with.

    As a virtual assistant, without social media I would be lost – it’s my office chat room!

    1. You’re welcome. Thanks for your input into the blog. You make a good point about connecting with people who aren’t potential customers. Most of my connections are people, like you and Mike, who just work in the same space and, therefore, can help by sharing knowledge and passing on referrals.

  5. There’s a lot of people that write off Facebook for b2b, big mistake (although good for those of us that get it). We sell b2b on Facebook and I know others who do as well.

    FB and LinkedIn are fairly even for us in terms of conversions over the last 2 years.

    1. Hi Andrew, thanks for your feedback. I think it largely depends on what business you’re in. I think it can work for B to B, but for most in that category it is a heck of a lot harder.

  6. I agree Andrew I think the perception is that it’s hard – interestingly I like FB a lot more than the other platforms (although I like what G+ is doing in many areas).

    Because I like FB it’s easy – in fact I’ve made more sales and partnerships on FB than I have on LinkedIn.

    Conversely I think the reason most b2b people struggle is not because it’s hard, but rather because they don’t like FB 😉 so it’s hard because they don’t like it, not because it’s intrinsically hard.

    1. Hi Andrew, you’re probably right. If you don’t like something you’re hardly going to make it work. The thing that concerns me about Facebook, though, is how the rules are gradually changing. For example, my partner hardly sees any of my posts. I can only put it down to the fact that the Facebook algorithm has decided I’m outside of her demographic.

  7. There’s a lot that changes whether someone sees what you post or not – and it’s actually got better in the last 10 days with a change to the algorithm.

    It’s like that on any platform though, there’s always an element of “black box” when you can’t see what happens under the covers.

    We’ve massively increased the number of people who see our posts on FB recently so happy to discuss next time we catch up for coffee some of the strategies we use 😀

  8. What a great share Andrew and I agree with Mike and Justine, not every platform will be good for your business. You definitely have to do your research to see if your target audience hangs out on any of these sites for that specific reason.

    I personally prefer Twitter and Facebook over the rest. I’m more of a social person though and my business is about building relationships. I find that much harder to do on LinkedIn and trust me, I’ve tried.

    I just had too many things going to jump into Pinterest so I never really dove into that platform although so many people rave about it. I also don’t have my own products so I don’t think right now it will really benefit me.

    I’m starting to see more results from Google+. I think like anything else it’s been a process. A slow one but one worth paying attention to.

    Thanks for sharing this post and I’ll be sure to do the same. I think others will really appreciate their views.

    ~Adrienne

    1. Hi Adrienne

      Thanks for your feedback. Since writing this post and reading the feedback, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no black-and-white rule for which platforms to use – some businesses find success on sites I would have thought would be less than ideal.

      Other than the social media sites I mentioned, are there any others that you use?

  9. Andrew, these are my top 5, I held my breath reading through your list.
    Pinterest is really working well for one my retail websites and Twitter is best for my personal blog. (and my favorite social place to be)
    Facebook is still best for family and friends but they are so many other things like groups and pages too there that you can gain traction to websites/blogs.
    Each platform takes time and you can’t rush relationships no matter where they begin.

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Lisa. You hit the nail on the head when you say that each platform takes time; that’s the thing that many businesses don’t appreciate. I’m not surprised that Pinterest has worked out for your retail site and Facebook is good for family and friends. That’s consistent with what Mike and Justine said in my blog.

  10. Hi Andrew, Thank you for sharing such an important and interesting article on different social media platforms. I am a content writer by profession and an aspiring social media strategist. Your article has been an eye opener for me. Looking forward to more interesting stuffs on social medias. Keep the content flowing. 🙂 Regards.

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