Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, three of the top social media networks, are all the rage these days. Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the past year or so chances are you heard of these sites and maybe even signed up for an account.
Facebook, with more than 200 million users, is currently the “top dog” of the social sites. The greatest growth for Facebook has come from people aged 35-49 (+24.1 million).
What’s more, Facebook has added almost twice as many 50-64 year old visitors (+13.6 million) than under 18 year old visitors (+7.3 million)*. These surprising figures definitely show that social media is not just for kids anymore.
Setting up a Facebook account and creating a company page (different from your personal profile) is a great way to become part of the social network playing field. www.facebook.com
Twitter, the 140 character micro-blogging site, has exploded from about 500,000 users to almost 20 million in March 2009 and even Oprah couldn’t resist the little Twitter bird any longer.
Her follower count went up to 76,000 within 15 minutes of being a member of the popular service and shot through the roof to over one million just 28 days later. Since you’re not Oprah, Ashton Kutcher, or Britney Spears be prepared to either have a dedicated “Twitterer” on your staff or invest your personal time to tweet in order to gain followers.
The jury is still out on the effectiveness of Twitter as a marketing tool for small businesses but it sure is a lot of fun. Be careful though – what you say on Twitter stays on Twitter even if you delete the post. Not only that, your funny remark that wasn’t funny to some is indexed by Google to stay there for a long time and the whole world to see. Ready to join the Twitterverse and become a Tweep? www.twitter.com
For a tongue-in-cheek explanation of what Twitter is all about see “Twouble with Twitters”
LinkedIn, the online business networking site, connects over 17 million experienced professionals from over 150 countries and can help you reach decision makers, develop new business contacts, and stay in touch with existing clients and former co-workers.
Tip: LinkedIn offers vanity URLs you can use to help with your Google search results. Rather than the standard URL to your profile, which usually looks something like www.linkedin.com/pub/xxxxxx/2/b45/90, LinkedIn gives you the ability to create a www.linkedin.com/in/yourbusinessname or www.linkedin.com/in/yourpersonalname URL, which typically ranks very high.
If you’re a small business owner and decide to participate in only one of these services then LinkedIn is a must. www.linkedin.com
Sounds all very impressive and maybe even fun, but how can these services benefit your business?
Your company can use Social Media for many purposes, including:
- Brand extension
- Passing along information and articles in real time
- Fast sharing of ideas, news and information
- Increase search engine visibility
Keep in mind – social networking can be a great vehicle for brand extension if your company is willing to produce content with useful information. Useful means useful to others, not to the company.
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn are just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more social networking sites where you can share pictures, videos, thoughts, opinions, or connect with people from all over the world – and new social sites are launched daily.
Remember though, social networking is not a replacement for traditional marketing – rather it enhances your marketing efforts by bringing an additional communication channel to your marketing mix. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that social networking is the new way and “cure all” for your company’s marketing campaigns – social media works best when used to promote communication and understanding between you and your customers.
Need help developing your social media strategy? Have questions about Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn? Contact us.
*Source: Nielsen Online