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Hang on to your billboards y’all . . .  The world’s gone DIGITAL!

Companies have jumped onto the social media bandwagon for the majority of their marketing strategies — and for good reason. According to Social Media Today, 93% of marketers use social media for business, and 90% of Inc. 500 companies use at least one major social media platform.

With so many platforms to choose from, how you do know which one is best for YOUR business?

Let’s take a minute to talk about the perks, drawbacks, uses, and features of some of the most popular social media choices out there these days:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Google+
  • Pinterest
  • YouTube
  • Instagram / Vine

Facebook

facebook

Facebook has become increasingly more business-friendly over the years. The “Page” feature has provided a way for businesses to have their own private real estate within Facebook. A business page allows your followers to keep current with business news, offers, and updates. Businesses can also sell products directly from their page and display other social media feeds (for example, Pinterest or Instagram — both of which are described below).

With Facebook, it’s all about the visuals. Facebook is very photo- and video-driven. Businesses should know:

Facebook posts that contain visual media get more shares, likes, and interactions than posts that are merely text or linked content.

A drawback? Facebook isn’t the best platform for receiving and sharing news quickly. Think of Facebook as a small-town, country setting, whereas other social channels (like Twitter) are like big, busy cities. In a big city, there’s a lot of hustle and bustle — people are everywhere and things happen quickly. If you want to talk to a passerby in “Twitter City,” your news or story had better be quick and to the point. Facebook, however, is more like a small town in the country — things move a little slower. You get to know your neighbors, build relationships, and can tell longer stories (while also showing pictures!), but in doing so, it takes awhile for your stories to reach all the folks in the surrounding communities.

Because it has such a strong sense of community, Facebook provides a unique venue to interact with others online. It’s the perfect platform for building brand loyalty and awareness.

Click here to read about the corporate Facebook strategy of one company that boasts nearly 700,000 Facebook fans.

Twitter

twitter

What Facebook offers in visual appeal and building relationships, Twitter lacks. Each post {called a “tweet”} can be only 140 characters long. This makes creating deeper, more meaningful interactions much more difficult. However, Twitter is one of the best social networks for getting news and updates FAST.

In fact, Twitter is the fastest paced of the social media platforms. Things are retweeted and posted almost instantaneously. Posts are short and to the point, and you can follow other users and their posts INSTANTLY.

Twitter is also a constant live feed. Things are posted as they happen, and everything someone tweets is given equal priority. Therefore, even if you follow hundreds of big companies, their information does not get priority over yours — your message gets on the same board as theirs!

In addition, the use of hashtags on Twitter has created a way for followers or users to find information on a specific topic. Users can find information from your business even if they weren’t searching for your company directly. {Yeah, pretty cool.}

LinkedIn

linkedin

It’s estimated that 97% of business executives have used LinkedIn. In fact, LinkedIn is the top social network for business networking and recruiting. LinkedIn groups make it easy to find and connect with like-minded people in your niche. LinkedIn company pages are also useful for entrepreneurs or smaller businesses trying to build recognition in their niche, gain business contacts, search for possible employees, and scope out potential business partners.

Learn more about utilizing LinkedIn in A CEO’s Guide to Networking Using LinkedIn.

And let’s not forget about the rest . . .

Google+

google+

Let’s all give a warm welcome to Google+. This relatively new platform is ideal for businesses looking to increase their presence in the world of social media marketing.

Creating a Google+ page for your business will instantly improve your search engine ranking.

Also, Google+ makes it possible to market to different audiences using different strategies. With Google+ circles, you can customize your content and create different groups of followers whom you can market to in different ways. There is also a “Measure” feature to give businesses an interactive measurement of how their Google+ page is being used.

Pinterest

pinterestIf your business likes to promote with strong, eye-catching images, then Pinterest is for you. Pinterest is a way for companies to promote their products, services, and blog posts using visual media.

Here are some statistics about Pinterest that might catch your attention:

  • 80% of pins are repined.
  • The site hit 10 million U.S. monthly users faster than any other independent site in history.
  • Pinterest referrals spend 70% more money than visitors referred from non-social channels.
  • People’s preference to associate with retailers or brands is 43% on Pinterest (compared to 24% on Facebook).

Learn more about how to make Pinterest work for you in my colleague Zina’s article My Business Is On Pinterest, Now What?

YouTube & Instagram / Vine

Hey, if it wasn’t for YouTube, Justin Bieber may have never been discovered (some might say that would be a good thing!). All joking aside, video marketing is highly effective for engaging your audience.

Videos are visually appealing and can rank extremely high on search engines. Video marketing is also much less competitive than blogging or other forms of media marketing. In addition, YouTube has a close relationship with Google — reason enough to at least have a YouTube profile and a couple of videos tied to your business (e.g., a virtual tour, client interviews, or telling your company’s story). Get hints for employing this digital marketing channel in my post 6 Tips for Creating Video Marketing Content.

Instagram and Vine are two social networks that have also jumped on the video train. For details about these platforms, see my colleague Nick’s post Instagram vs. Vine — Which Do YOU Choose?

We can all sit back to watch Instagram and Vine go head-to-head. (I have my money on Instagram!)

So let’s sum up, shall we?

To help you out, we’ve created a table comparing the features of these top-ranking social media platforms:

Social-Media-Table-Cultivate-Communications

So now that you’ve got the skinny, are you ready to roll up your sleeves and dig in? {Sure, you are!}

Connect with us on LinkedIn, where we can help you get started on the path to success with online branding, networking, and social engagement. That’s what we DO!

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