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Social Networks are an amazing advancement in communications technology. With a huge volume of people connected and engaged with in social circles, no matter where you are in the world.

For the business world this is a lip smackingly tasty opportunity to get your teeth into markets that previously was not financially viable. These social channels offer many potential opportunities to present your brand, service or products slap bang in their faces. But like any marketing strategies you need to assess the value that it will have to your business and see if it is worth the investment. Often businesses jump in neck deep and sign up to every social networks firing content off in all directions hoping to catch the eye of potential customers. Unfortunately, the social market is far more clued up to the obvious and frankly boring methods of advertising, so the methods and platforms you choose must be carefully considered.

So to help launch you in the deep ocean of Social channels and to keep your head above water and not drowning in endless amounts of posting, tweeting, blogging, commenting, analysing, research (the list goes on). Here are my top Pros and Cons of the most popular social networks and the best way to use them…

Twitter social networks

Twitter:

Twitter, a heavyweight in social media, packing more punch and more bite than Mike Tyson. But you don’t have to chew their ear off to get the message home. To make Twitter work well for your business you must make your content relevant, give it personality and brevity. By posting frequent status updates you can cut through the other messages and get your voice heard.

Who’s on It:

Pretty much everyone except that has a smartphone.

Types of Business using it:

There’s lot’s of small businesses, SME’s, freelancers and many of the largest multinational corporations in the world on twitter.

Post Frequency:

Multiple times per day (not the same post and not all in one hit!)

What’s Being Shared:

Opinions, posts, articles, images and conversations. Allowing you to interact directly with brands and customers.

The Let Downs:

Twitter has an enormous user base that posts very frequently and people follow hundreds if not thousands of other users, which results in a very noisy environment to get your message heard.

TOP TIP:

Timing is of the essence, pick your moments by watching the trends for when your target audience/followers are most active. Make sure your tweet is relevant, short and offers value.

FB social networks

Facebook:

Facebook is the largest social network in the world and is primarily a social tool, but this hasn’t stopped businesses and Facebook themselves trying to piggyback on its vast communities. Facebook has introduced many new attractive methods for businesses to target and see the results pouring in, however much of this is misguided and worthless. ‘I reached 10,000 people on my last post all for £20 investment’, which is great, but don’t start counting the cash thinking you’re going to get those 10K beating your door down.

One of the biggest misconceptions with Facebook is a numbers game, the more you get the higher your chance of going viral… no, too many businesses have purchased follows rather than growing a valuable community which falsifies these numbers and your potential reach as many of these people aren’t real and bogus accounts.

One of the biggest challenges businesses face with posting to facebook is that people are looking for that emotional connection whether happy, funny, sad, trendy or aggravating, to share with their group. And this is the key, to encourage your audience to share your message and place your brand in their shop window.

Who’s on It:

Everyone…. (not my Nan though, but everyone else… probably!

Types of Business using it:

Nearly every type of business uses it

Post Frequency:

Once or twice per day, but one great post once a week is far better than making five posts for the sake of it.

What’s Being Shared:

All types of online content, Events, Ads and Videos

The Let Downs:

Two of facebook’s biggest let downs is its Algorithmic feeds which makes it harder to be seen as facebook recommends content to users they think they will like based on their algorithm. The other is boosting posts to reach more of your targets. This can really help if used right but most of the time it isn’t exploited. People normally focus on the number of people reached rather than the number of people that clicked or engaged. It might have reached these people but they did nothing with it which could mean they scrolled passed it like we all do.

Youtube video social networks

YouTube:

YouTube launched in 2004 and was bought by Google in 2006 for a whacking 1.65 Billion. This propelled the video network to what it is today, allowing broadcasters to make money from there videos and even for some make a full salary. Its great for SEO and as it’s owned by Google you’ll have no problem people finding you content in searches.

     

Who’s on It:

All sorts of people with wide interests, hobbies, etc.

Types of Business using it:

Any business can harness the power of YouTube, all you need are people to film it. Sometimes it doesn’t even have to be good which is the beauty of YouTube.

Post Frequency:

Once a month can do the job, but again depends on what you’re saying. For people looking to make a living from this once a day or once a week is imperative.

What’s Being Shared:

Shorts, films, how-to, spoofs, candid camera, reviews, you name it and you can probably find it.

The Let Downs:

Youtube is only as good as the content on it and there’s a lot. However there for a business there is simply no point just making a video and slapping it up there. You have to apply the right, tags, SEO, call-to-actions and promote the content to drive you audience to few it.

TOP TIP:

Keep it short, make sure the sound quality is good and apply all the necessary SEO techniques

social networks snapchat

Snapchat:

Snapchat started with the simple concept of pictures that disappeared after 15 seconds. Which was later found out to be a complete load of crap. Snapchat gives your message a direct personal, but in formal experience in a chat format. This allows brands to have a direct and interactive channel to post to their users mobile devices.

Who’s on It:

There are over 100 million people using it everyday. Snapchats key user base is between the ages of 13- 25 and 70% of them are women

Types of Business using it:

Publisher’s, celebrities and brands alike use Snapchat.

Post Frequency:

Once to four times per day

What’s Being Shared:

Fashion, short videos, funny images, competitions, new product previews, coupons ,behind the scenes, events and food

The Let Downs:

Snapchat is not for every business as it is more direct and could be a bit too personal for some brands. Also if you’re target audience is men 25+, then currently this is not for you.

Linkedin social networks

Linkedin:

Linkedin launched in 2002 as a business networking tool connects companies and professionals with the aim to encourage growth, share CVs, skills, opportunities and resource for individuals to access and exchange views and seek advice.

Who’s on It:

Most businesses, freelancers and professionals. If you’ve not on it, you should be.

Types of Business using it:

Businesses (especially B2B service providers), Recruiters and Job-Seekers

Post Frequency:

Two to four times a week

What’s Being Shared:

Job-postings, company descriptions, employer/employee research, case studies, whitepapers and portfolio of work.

The Let Downs:

I have always found that Linkedin has struggled to identify with what they are. Jumping from being an business base network, to being a jobs board, to being an online meet up tool. This left people confused and many asking what’s the main benefit of having a linkedin page.  Too many people have used i has a popularity contest which has undermined its value.

TOP TIP:

Don’t connect with every man and his dog and if you do connect with someone you don’t know get to know them rather than just clicking ‘connect’.

Pin social networks

Pinterest:

Pinterest is based around a mood board concept that reflects you likes, style, fashion and interests. The content on pinterest is very creative and you can find some really cool stuff . As a business if you have a lot of creative output and customer base that draws upon the creative industry then you can really need to harness this social network. Unlike some other social networks pinterest doesn’t shy away from CTAs or selling. Especially with fashion brands and ecommerce taking full advantage of this.

Who’s on It:

Most Business, freelancers and individuals

Types of Business using it:

Food, fashion, travel, design, DIY, and anything Creative. Pinterest’s audience this mostly female with about a 4:1 ratio.

Post Frequency:

Four to five times a day (minimum)

What’s Being Shared:

Everything visual that represent creativity, DIY, blog posts, cakes, make up this list goes on.  

The Let Downs:

The let down for most businesses is the post frequency as you have to post a lot of visual content daily to make the biggest impact on pintrest. If you’re in a creative industry you should have a lot of that stuff going out any way so what a better platform. However, if you’re not in that type of business that shares that much visual content it might not be the best thing to spend your valuable resources on.

G+ social networks

Google +

Google+ is a social network that took its time to grow but today is used by more than people think. Google+ is a very formal, more for professionals than most social networks. Which makes it a great platform for businesses to market themselves.

Who’s on It:

74% of users are male, 55% of users are from the US, 5% of users are from the UK and 18% of users are from India

Types of Business using it:

B2B Brands, B2B networking, bloggers and brands with a highly male target market.

Post Frequency:

Once or twice a day

What’s Being Shared:

More formal and professional than Facebook but not as business oriented as linkedin. Hashtags have major SEO value on Google’s search engine… surprise, surprise!

The Let Downs:

Google has changed there minds about what they’re doing with this social network a number of times which has impacted on users investing their time. It’s odd as they do have a good user base and it is growing but they just keep on changing their minds on what it’s for. Google has said recently they are going to listen to users and make it a free tool for them rather than trying to compete with the big three.

instagram social networks

Instagram:

Instagram is a mobile native photo based social network that allows you to post like and share photos from your phone. Bought buy facebook in 2012 the photo sharing app has grown leaps and bounds, with 400 million users worldwide already.

Who’s on It:

With Instagram having more than 75 million daily active users and almost a 50/50 gender split it’s a very well balanced channel. 41% of users being 16-24 years of age.

Types of Business using it:

Food, fashion, lifestyle, entertainment, bloggers, creatives, luxury goods and many more.

Post Frequency:

Once a day (minimum)

What’s Being Shared:

Animated GIFs, visual content, videos (short videos less than 15 seconds), quote, pictures, BTS pictures.

The Let Downs:

One of instagrams biggest let downs is its Algorithmic feeds similar to facebooks. You may be surprised to learn that people miss on average 70 percent of their feeds, it’s become harder to keep up with all the photos and videos people sharing. This means you have to fight to be seen, which for a lot of businesses does not offer a good enough return.

Yelp social networks

Yelp:

Yelp started back in 2004 and since then has grown to global popularity. Hitting a chord with customers, reviewers and local businesses alike with 2.8 million local business on its platform and the 102 million reviews to date.

Who’s on It:

Yelp gets 207.1 million global visits in a mouth and 70% of the page views come from mobile devices.

Types of Business using it:

B2C companies, retail, hospitality and tourism related or reviewers and bloggers

Post Frequency:

Before your business opens and whenever information changes.

What’s Being Shared:

Reviews and location-based business search

The Let Downs:

Yelp reminders me a bit of a glorified business directory with reviews and some social parts to it. Yelp is one of the most popular review and directory sites but with competition from other sites like Tripadvisor they need to constantly add more value to their site.

Meduiam social networks

Medium:

Medium is the latest project by Blogger and Twitter co-founder Evan Williams. There’s no complicated new tools to learn, and no widgets to get your head around or be distracted by, its all about your writing. On Medium you have the freedom to write something for the purpose of sharing ideas that might appeal to a broad audience. It gives you that ability to experiment with new subjects and themes not directly focused on your product, service or blog, a free writing space to explore and be experimental.

Who’s on It:

Big readers, researchers, writers, brand influencers, academic readers and bloggers  

Types of Business using it:

Publishers, reviewers, influencers, freelancers, writers and bloggers

Post Frequency:

Once to twice a week

What’s Being Shared:

Reviews, case studies, white papers, reports, articles, research and academic work.

The Let Downs:

If you’re a big writer or thinker that likes to talk about theories and loves to experiment with written content, Medium is perfect. But if your target markets don’t identify with academic written pieces, this is not for you.

Conclusion:

There you have it! My ten top social networks for business, I hope this goes some way to explaining these and you’ve found it useful. Of course there are so many more but i found these ones are the most relevant to mainstream businesses and have the most active user base to take advantage of. When you’re picking your social channels make sure to keep in mind the benefits of each and that social networks are just like any other tool, sometimes you need them sometimes you don’t.

Leave your comments and let me know what you think

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