Participating in social media is rapidly becoming a necessity for businesses.  In 2013, we will see discussions among business owners shifting away from why participate to where and how to get involved.  Social media is fast becoming social business. Recent research has shown 73 percent of salespeople using social media outperform those who don’t.

Getting involved in social media initiatives requires planning and time.  Determine which social site is the right fit for your customers and prospects then develop a business strategy for participation along with social business goals.  Learn about the demographics of social media site users, know your customer base and their social site preferences.

Social sites are not universally interchangeable for businesses.  You should never select one social site for business over another site based on your personal preference. Invest time into better understanding social site demographics and your customers’ social site preferences.  Learn how to leverage social sites to the greatest benefit for your business.

Demographics of Facebook Versus LinkedIn

People may mention Facebook and LinkedIn in the same breath, however, while seemingly equal, there is a significant difference. When you dig into the demographics, number of users, and the features of each site you begin to see major differences.

Facebook, a truly social network platform, is designed to encourage people to share and communicate. While LinkedIn has established a reputation for connecting college-educated business professionals, Facebook has established a reputation for connecting almost everyone.

LinkedIn has been primarily focused on becoming the online rolodex of connections for business people. LinkedIn, known as the business networking platform, is touted as a sales person’s best bet as an added sales tool. LinkedIn users tend to be white collar college graduates, which makes the LinkedIn environment appealing to the business community, job seekers and corporate recruiters.

Facebook vs LinkedIn: Stats and Features

  Facebook LinkedIn
Members More than 1 Billion >200 Million
Monthly visitors 960 Million 97 Million
Gender of visitors 43% male57% female 50% male50% female
Age of visitor 13-17 years: 7%18-34 years: 26%35+ years: 66% 13-17 years: 1%18-34 years: 19%35+ years: 80%
Site Features Photo UploadingPrivate Message SendingPublic Message PostingVideo Uploading Photo UploadingPrivate Message Sending-Video Uploading
Networking Features Event/Activity InvitesFile SharingGroupsInstant Messaging

Multi-user Games

Private Messaging

Real-time updates from other users

Event/Activity InvitesFile SharingGroups-

-

-

Real-time updates from other users

Search Features FilteringLive search resultsSearch suggestions FilteringLive search results-
Search Options Email AddressGenderInterestsKeywords

Location

Name

Online Now

School

Email Address-InterestsKeywords

-

Name

-

-

*Sources:

USA Today, Facebook Vs. LinkedIn: who has more staying power http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2013/03/26/facebook-linkedin-social-networks/2021395/

Forbes.com, Facebook vs. Linkedin – What’s the Difference http://www.forbes.com/sites/joshbersin/2012/05/21/facebook-vs-linkedin-whats-the-difference/

Know the Social Media Preferences of Your Customer Base

Businesses should know where customers spend the most social media time because it is easier to join them in an environment they are already comfortable using.  There are several ways to find out where your customers are socially active; the least costly way is to ask. There are paid services in an emerging field called social anthropology that will take email addresses of your customers and return a profile of social network information.

When you know where your customers spend their social media time, you develop your strategy and begin to interact with them in that space.  Social media can be leveraged like word-of-mouth advertising; your connection with customers will be visible to their connections; which can make for a much easier sale to friends of friends.

How Others Use Facebook for Business

There are many positive aspects of developing a Facebook profile for your business, being active by creating news and adding posts will generate greater awareness. According to Facebook, over one billion people “like” and comment an average of 3.2 billion times daily.  Having a profile page and connecting with your customers would allow you to be a part of these ongoing conversations.

As a branding initiative, businesses create a Facebook page and become active by posting updates to increase awareness among customers and prospects. Facebook has a newsfeed feature that streams updates from those who are connected on Facebook. Facebook also offers paid advertising.

Creating posts on Facebook is easy and should be managed with ongoing frequency. There are paid options for posting as well; for a fee you can promote your post which moves your post up in your followers’ timeline.

Follow these tips to write quality Facebook posts:

  • Make sure your posts are relevant to your audience and business
  • Be succinct, friendly and conversational
  • Share photos and videos because they tend to be more engaging
  • Ask questions or seek input
  • Give access to exclusive information and specials
  • Be timely by posting about current events, holidays or news

How Others Use LinkedIn for Business

LinkedIn is a publicly traded company (LNKD) which means their revenue, operations and earnings are public information.  Eighty percent of LinkedIn’s revenue comes from hiring solutions and marketing, which means businesses and corporations provide the majority of revenue for LinkedIn.

Companies are creating LinkedIn company pages, posting job openings, and joining discussion groups. They are also are using LinkedIn to attract talent, start and nurture conversations with customers and prospects, create leads, and to promote other social media channels and initiatives. Business professionals are creating profiles and recommending others for their skills.

<sidebar> Top 5 Tips for Creating a LinkedIn Company Page

  1. Create, complete and update your LinkedIn company page.
  2. Build followers for your company page by sending a message and asking them to follow.
    1. Employees
    2. Peers in the industry
    3. Vendors
    4. Current and prospective customers
  3. Provide interesting value-add postings to your company page.
  4. Engage in conversation and network with people you follow.
  5. Monitor and focus your efforts using the LinkedIn analytics feature.

Source: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/5-tips-for-using-the-new-linkedin-company-pages/

To use LinkedIn for business you will need to create your company page and build followership.  The next step is to craft your social campaign, start the campaign and nurture conversations.  For example, if you run a tax practice and have a LinkedIn company page with customers and prospects as followers you might ask, “What’s your favorite tax season survival tip?” Share your favorite tip and ask your followers to add their comments. These conversations need to be monitored and your postings need to occur with frequency.

Watch for our July 2013 PMI eNewsletter for Part 2 of this three article series.

Resources to stay on top of Social Media trends:

http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com

http://www.flowtown.com/blog/

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