Which One Do I Choose?06 Dec 2012
I get a common question about Social Media. "Which one should I use?". Some people have said to me that they don't like Facebook or Twitter. It is important to remember that none of that really matters because it is not about what you like. It is about how other people like to receive their information.
Some people love Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. Others prefer Email. Some want to visit your website regularly for news or updates. For that reason you should always make your important information available in many ways. That potential customer who needs you might be on Facebook right now. Or they might be on Pinterest. Or on your website. You'll never know for sure.
It doesn't take very long to spread the word if you have the right tools and people to help. The benefit can be enormous.
Comparison to Traditional Media
Consider how advertisers have used TV, radio and print in the past. Each one provides a particular kind of contact with people related to the type of medium and the content on it. Each one could promise advertisers a particular kind of person that listens/watches/reads it. Used properly, all forms of traditional media could combine to focus or amplify a message to the public. Why did they do this advertising? Traditionally it has been to get you into a shop to buy the product being advertised.
Compare this with Social Media. Each one has its own method of reaching fans/followers/people, and each one has a particular kind of person who prefers it. The different Social Media platforms can also be used to focus or amplify your message. And that shop? On the internet it is your website. Everything you do is to get people to visit your website! There you have complete control over the experience and message people receive.
The only big difference is that traditional media was called Mass Media for a reason. Anything an advertiser did reached an enormous amount of people because they were the only game in town and the cost to distribute was prohibitively high so there were few players. The numbers of Social Media users may be in the billions but the number of people producing content for them is also in the billions.
What's the difference between them all anyway?
Here is a quick description of each social media platform and what they are best used for.
Facebook is in reality two things. The first is a communications network. Think of it as a new version of the old telephone networks. When people say that Facebook is full of useless conversations and kids wasting time chatting to eachother then do not be surprised. If you listened to every phone conversation in the world you would come across the same kinds of conversations.
The second thing Facebook is requires some explaining. Imagine a long street full of pubs, social groups, cafes and other places where people gather. Each of those establishments has a theme or purpose that attracts people to them. They might have information or entertainment. Some are more popular than others. People regularly move between them during their normal social activities. This is what Facebook is but the places along this imaginary street are pages that users have set up.
An important point to make with Facebook pages is that like any physical establishment there will be people who hang out for fun, to make trouble, to entertain, to do business, or to just get away from everything else.
Facebook is best suited for announcements but consider that you are opening a place for people to visit and you are in charge of the atmosphere and decor (and to a degree their security).
At this point in time Google+ is confused. It is NOT Google's version of Facebook. I'd argue that its final form is not even known inside Google yet. Probably its best weapon is providing a boost to your Google Search Engine rankings. There has been some backlash against Google's plans in this area but expect to see them push down this path since it is a competitive advantage they have over Facebook.
Google+ is best suited for announcements, although the chances of people reading them are low.
Twitter is like sending an SMS to everybody in the world. Like Facebook, it is also a modern alternative to a traditional telecommunications network. When people complain that Twitter is full of pictures of what everybody had for lunch and when they went to the toilet then consider that you are eavesdropping on conversations. People have those same conversations in private over the telephone every day.
Twitter is best suited for announcements with links back to your website.
Pinterest is an image gallery. It has some similarities with Twitter but is built for sharing (pinning) of images rather than short snippets of text. It is very popular with photographers and other visual-oriented professions.
Pinterest is best suited for showing off images or your products or work. Images are easy to organise, comment on and share.
LinkedIn is best suited for individuals as a resume and career networking tool.
Blogger and Wordpress
Blogs are best suited to demonstrate your knowledge and credibility in your area of expertise. It is your chance to self-publish your own thoughts. Once you have added or updated a blog then the other Social Media platforms are great for spreading the word about what you wrote.
Wordpress has successfully morphed itself into a Content Management System over the past two years and has become very popular. At its core, though, it is still a blogging platform and many sites (and site builders) struggle to get it to step outside of that purpose with good results.
Making It Easier
Did you know you can link a Twitter account to a Facebook account so that anything you write on Twitter is automatically put onto your Facebook wall? This is incredibly powerful for producing content quickly. LinkedIn and Pinterest can also be linked to a Twitter account to do the same thing.
NOTE that these are OFFICIAL functions provided by those platforms. No special tools or websites are required. This is very important because many third party offerings assume you are at a computer or on a web browser. I post most of my stuff from my iPad.
I can Pin a picture on Pinterest and the same picture with the words I wrote (being careful to keep it brief) will appear to have been Tweeted by me AND posted to my Facebook page. The same thing happens when I post an update to LinkedIn. That means in each scenario there are THREE updates instead on one and each of them can start a conversation among my followers.
It looks like I spent a lot of time but I did not. After that I will receive an alert if somebody replies in any of the Social Media platforms that were posted to and I can then follow up. Quick and easy.
In this age of information overload it is important to get your word out there and let people know, but it is even more important to do it in a way people will be happy to be told. You want your news to be welcomed into their daily routine. Just like traditional advertisers used the 6 o'clock news or the morning paper. They placed themselves there for a good reason. Be part of peoples' normal information-gathering process and your chances of having an impact are much greater.
In my next blog I will talk about bringing it all back home. How to take advantage of your Social Media updates to make your website the definitive reference about you and what you do. All without any extra work.