Which social media services should you consider for your business?

Businesses are under a lot of pressure now to move into social media. There’s so much talk about it that it’s very easy to feel like you are being left behind unless you jump in quickly.

But before you do, stop and think about which social media services would work best for your company. They aren’t all the same (even though they all get lumped into that “social media” category), and the nature of your business, not to mention your own skills and preferences, dictate which would work best for you and which you should steer clear of.

So let’s first characterize your business: B-to-B or B-to-C? Visual (for example interior design, painting, car detailng) or not visual (for example car repair, financial services, CPA)? Retail products or services?

Next, let’s go through the various social media and see which work best with which types of business:

First let’s consider blogs. There’s some question whether a blog is really social media, but most are interactive (that is, users can add comments) and they are very effective for virtually all kinds of businesses. They have multiple advantages:

1. They change, so your readers always have something new to review
2. Done correctly, they point back to your website, so they add links to your search engine listings
3. They keep you thinking about your business, which means you serve your clients better

I encourage all my clients to commit to a blog. But that, of course, is the hangup: commitment. My advice is not to start a blog if you aren’t willing to commit to continuing it. The rest of my advice, however, is to commit to it and do it. You will find you get into the rhythm of it fairly quickly, and after a while you will be turning them out like pancakes.

Now on to the more traditional social media. I will go into more detail about each of these in future blogs, but here is the abbreviated rundown:

Facebook

Pros: Best for B-to-C businesses, supports business pages, huge audience
Cons: Has a lot of security gotchas, needs a lot of TLC to be effective and safe

LinkedIn

Pros: Best for B-to-B businesses, large audience, very professional, few security issues, excellent discussion groups
Cons: Requires a fair amount of participation to be useful

Google+

Pros: Best for B-to-C businesses, growing fairly rapidly, similar to Facebook in function
Cons: Audience is growing but is nowhere near Facebook’s yet; requires TLC just like Facebook

Pinterest

Pros: Best for B-to-C, very visual focus so best for visual businesses
Cons: Uncertain future; still in its infancy but growing rapidly; requires TLC

The rest

Beyond these, there are a variety of special-interest sites that are worth watching and considering. For example, if you are in an industry that has anything to do with housing, Houzz is well worth exploring. It’s similar to Pinterest but restricted to housing issues, very visual, and like most social media, requires a lot of TLC.

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