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Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn? Finding the Right Fit for Your Small Business

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Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn? Finding the Right Fit for Your Small Business

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: August 17, 2010 Updated: October 24, 2011

Thinking of investing in social media but struggling to know where to start?

According to a December 2009 survey by Ad-ology, 46% of small business owners said they wish they knew more about social media. And, while coming up with a social media strategy is one thing (the resources at the end of this article provide pointers on this), it also helps to have a basic understanding of what each of the major social media sites can and can't do for your small business and its customers.

Here's a quick 101 on how to best leverage the top three social networking sites - Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Twitter

It's a common misperception to think that Twitter is just about personal updates and'Tweet' (messages of 140 characters or less) about where folks are and what they are doing. Today, Twitter offers many benefits for small business outreach:

  • Why Leverage Twitter? - Twitter can be a valuable business tool for brand exposure and monitoring (applications such as HootSuite can help you track what is being said about your brand and the competition online). Twitter is also a great tool for communicating and engaging with customers' helping you to stand out from the crowd and keep your finger on the pulse of your custome's needs.
  • The Potential Of Twitter - If you have a well thought out social media strategy, great online content that is updated frequently (such as a blog, online offers, etc.), and time and resources, Twitter can also help generate traffic to your site, improve the viral nature of your outreach, and build your brand. Twitter can somewhat improve your Web sit's search engine ranking since Google and other online search sites now index Tweets, although don't pin too much hope on this.
  • What Twitter is Not - Twitter offers no benefits to business users who simply use it as a vehicle for personal musings or as a news feed to promote product“ while neglecting the social element.

Facebook

Ever-evolving and ever-growing, Facebook is no longer simply the realm of networking teenagers. For many customers, Facebook is now their defacto site for interacting with friends, family, and their favorite brands.

  • Why Leverage Facebook? - As with Twitter, Facebook is a great way for engaging with people who like your brand, want to interact with it, stay abreast of latest developments, and take advantage of giveaways, contests, surveys, etc. It is also invaluable for brand exposure.
  • The Potential of Facebook - Once you have a fan page established you can increase awareness of it, and your brand, through targeted ads. You can also customize it to easily add video, events, discussion boards, blog feeds, and more. While having a Facebook presence doesn't guarantee a huge uptick in visitors to your Web site, using it strategically to link back to online blogs, menus, event or newsletter registration landing pages and special offers, can improve site traffic.
  • What Facebook is Not - Facebook is not a replacement for your Web site. Think of it as another communication channel for extending the reach of your brand and giving your business a 'social' face. Your Web site should remain your online hub for product and service information, lead capture devices, blogs, and your best bet for helping your business get found in online searches.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn and Facebook have evolved in tandem over recent years, with LinkedIn essentially functioning as the Facebook of business professionals. Over and above promoting your own personal profile, LinkedIn has several uses for small business:

  • Why Leverage LinkedIn? Search for any business professional on Google and you’ll almost certainly find their LinkedIn profile and company name at the top of the rankings. LinkedIn is very effective for personal branding, networking and building the professional reputation of your business and its employees.
  • The Potential of LinkedIn – Join industry groups and demonstrate your know-how by sharing news, answering questions, linking to your latest blog post, and so on. Leverage LinkedIn’s big strength – networking – to find and form relationships with potential partners and customers, and solicit recommendations. Use the job boards to target the right candidates and boost your job search efforts.
  • What LinkedIn is Not – When I think of LinkedIn, I think of it as a respectful and courteous nurturing ground for professionals and businesses. It is not an outlet for lead generation, your latest offer, or for gratuitously plugging your business. Do this and you’ll quickly find yourself losing connections.

 

At the end of the day...

…to get a real sense of the potential that each social media site can bring to your business it’s worth taking a look at what other businesses are doing.

Google and the SBA have partnered to make this a lot easier for small business owners, by producing a series of videos that showcase successful small businesses at work on their online marketing strategies.

One video in particular, peels back some of the mystery that surrounds online marketing and social media, in particular and explains just how your business can “get social”, read: “Putting the “Social” into Social Media Marketing – 3 Tips for Interacting with your Customers”for more insight and inspiration.

About the Author:

Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

Comments:

hoe werkt twitter? thats how we say it in dutch which says "What is Twitter?". so as you can see, twitter is now everywhere and really its widely used as a business tool.
Twitter still seems to be frivolous to me, were as Linkedin has helped our company with our business contacts and promotions. Thanks for you post!
Social media marketing could be tough because of their high security system. Sometimes I found it difficult to advertise in many social sites. So I think good steps are required to make it successful. Thank you for your post.freelance copywriting london
I agree that small businesses should be leveraging one if not all of the major social media sites.  For people who've been in business for a while will likely see how valuable these free marketing tools have become.   Getting this level of instant exposure for your business before was typically not possible due to costs for small businesses. Even if a business owner is not tech savvy or have time to manage posting frequently, it still maybe worth a few extra bucks to outsource the task because the benefit outweighs the cost.
The most essential aspect of social media that was left out in my opinion for small business is synching the twitter account to the facebook account. That way those who follow on twitter can clearly see that your business also is on facebook and you should follow us there too.In this social media frenzy of a world we live in it's crucial to small businesses to get as much exposure as possible at the easiest convenience for the consumer. As far as twitter usage, I think that the most efficient way to utilize it is by posting promotions, deals, discounts...etc. Whereas facebook should be usage as more who we are, what we believe in page. On facebook you should post videos as well as photos of your business but remember to keep it professional. Lastly, LinkedIn should individually by all of your employees but in a fashion that promotes the Facebook and Twitter accounts as well as what your company is involved and why people should care.As a final thought, the absolute best things start up small businesses can do if they are not tech savvy is to hire unpaid interns for the summer who have the understanding and prior knowledge as to how twitter, facebook and LinkedIn work.
Thank you this is a great post!!
Each of these social networks plays a curcial role in the business world.  I have built my business and career around these and other soical networks.LinkedIn is a powerful tool for marketing yourself and networking.  Any executive or indivual looking to market themselfs needs to get on LinkedIn and participate in it.  Ask for recommendations and give them to others, build a solid network of people and get yourself in front of them.  We have never found LinkedIn a powerful tool for marketing our business, but it is very good for marketing yourself and creating an a respectable  Internet Reputation.
Here at myfirstjob we just link all the accounts together and aim for the same targeted customers. We don't think this makes much difference at all. MeuPrimeiroEmprego
We keep a simple philosophy with regard to Social Networking for partytentenshop.nl We link Twitter and Facebook together but keep Linkedin as a more professional , business contact only type of thing. Made a mistake of linking twitter posts to Linkedin with a feed burner but somehow it just didnt feel right. Partytentenshop
While any form of new or powerful communicaiton is vital for small business, you have to remember the "social" part of social media.Too many businesses think that all they have to do is sign up for an account, have a slick looking page made and the $$ will start rolling in.  IF (and that is a big IF) you need to research" your customers are on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, then you need to actually engage with them.  Don't just bombard followers with links to your website, coupons, deals and facts about what you sell.  Create a dialogue, ask them questions (an excellent source of marketing info) and ANSWER them back.  If you come off like you're always trying to sell them something, you'll get very little traction.Imagine a "real life" friend that worked at a car dealership and every time yoiu talked to him, he tried to sell you a car.  Needless to say, that guy wouldn't be getting invites to the summer bbq.Create a following by giving your clients free information, helpfuly links (not always yours) and great resources.  Not only do you show them that you are not constantly trying to sell them, but you also cement your standing as an expert in your field.A general rule of thumb I follow is for every 10 tweets or status updates, 1/ max 2 are actually trying to sell something.

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