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October 4, 2012

Google+, Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn – Which is Best?

If you’re in business for yourself, then you’re likely painfully aware of the importance of social media in your marketing strategy.

“You need a Twitter account!”

“Are you on Facebook?”

“Connect with me on LinkedIn!”

Makes you wanna reach for the earplugs sometimes, doesn’t it? If you’re like most small business owners, you eat, sleep, and breathe your company 24/7. Who has time to spend hours on social networks?

To further compound the problem, there are quite a few social networks from which to choose today. The biggies that most business owners see as viable candidates include Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. If you want to know which platform is the best for your business, here’s the short answer: it depends on what you want to achieve.

Defining Your Goals

Yes, it’s important to have a presence on most of the big social networks. In theory, you should set up accounts on each. Staying vigilant on the accounts and maintaining a unified online presence is a full-time job – and you have a business to run.

Instead, try picking one social network to serve as your main point of contact. Defining your goals is imperative to choosing the right one for your business. It helps to ask yourself a few key questions before you decide:

1. Do you want to get your business on a social network to attract new customers?

2. Are you looking for a way to increase the number of professional contacts for your business?

3. Do you want to build a relationship with your existing customers?

4. Do you want a way to announce breaking news and updates about your company and your industry?

5. Are you looking for a way to collaborate more easily with your staff and streamline other internal functions?

Once you have the answer to these questions pinned down, you’ll begin to understand which social network will best serve your small business.

The Perks of Google+

Google+ was once balked at for being the black sheep of the social networking scene, but lately it seems that Big G’s added an onslaught of new features that are simply too good to keep ignoring. The plus of G+ (forgive the pun) is the mindboggling collaborative capability the platform can offer you and your team – for free.

According to Google, the tools are great to use, and “whether you’re across the street or across the world, you can hold face-to-face meetings, share updates with colleagues and friends and work on a presentation together in real-time.”

Google+ boasts private sharing for the members of your organization through a feature called Restricted Posts. You can also conduct unlimited hangouts and video meetings that are fully integrated with Google Calendar, Gmail, and Google Docs. In addition, there are promises of more great features to come.

Facebook for Business

Facebook, of course, is the biggie. If you want to build long-term relationships with your customers, convert one-time buyers into loyal fans, and attract new customers, Facebook is where you should spend the bulk of your time.

According to Facebook, more than 900 million people are active on the website – and users like and comment to the tune of 3.2 billion times every day. A strong presence on the platform will help ensure you get a piece of that action. How? When your biz has become part of the conversation on Facebook, you’re getting one of the most powerful kinds of advertising on the planet – viral word-of-mouth.

To get started, here’s the official word from one of Facebook’s business help pages:

Image 1:

You can create traditional ads or advertise special offers that fans can claim to encourage participation on your page. Facebook tries to help your business gain as much exposure as possible by making friends eligible to view fans’ interaction with your page.

What’s really cool about Facebook is that the recent IPO has caused Zuckerberg and Co. to ramp up the tools, advertising options, and customer service offered to businesses. You get the sweet end of that deal, and you can expect more gadgets and goodies to come in the months going forward.

To Tweet or Not to Tweet

Twitter is a microblogging platform. By its very design, it’s meant to be a tool for breaking news. Look to Twitter as your platform of choice if you run the kind of company that works off of its reputation, its “coolness,” or its ability to break news in real-time. If any of these characteristics describe your business, you should jump on the T-train pronto.

When you join Twitter, begin by searching for and following people in your niche. Don’t forget to promote your presence on Twitter offline as well. Keep your profile active by snapping some behind-the-scenes shots of developing projects, news, and events and share them with your followers. Remember, when people follow your company, they want the inside scoop on your business – and you should think of every follower as a potential customer just waiting for you to sell them on your wares.

Twitter is also a spectacular way to coax honest feedback from your followers in real-time. All the biggest brands have turned to the platform to get the opinions of their customers, and many are reporting great results from doing the legwork to gauge the pulse of their client base. Ask questions about your existing and upcoming products and services, and be sure to reply to all of your followers’ questions and concerns in a timely manner. Twitter is also a great way to advertise time-sensitive specials and deals for your customers.

Should You Get LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is a professional social network designed to help you develop key partnerships with other businesses in your niche. It may sound counterintuitive, but forming alliances with your competition is actually vital for getting ahead. The more connections you make in your industry, the higher the potential to grow and expand your business.

For example, imagine you have a crackerjack idea for a partnership with a competing company. All you need to do is perform a “People Search” to quickly hunt down the right point of contact for the company you wish to proposition. You can contact the person right within the platform and take things from there. If you are seeking a professional network that can grow your biz through alliances and professional partnerships, LinkedIn is the platform for you.

Measuring Success and Hiring Help

Once you’ve selected your social network of choice, dedicate time to developing relationships with people on the platform you’ve chosen. Tend to your account regularly and be relentlessly responsive to your client base. If your social media presence begins to become a monster of a task that you can no longer handle, it’s probably time to hire on some help.

If you’re seeing significant ROI for the time you put into your social media account, consider hiring a social media manager to handle things. The money you spend on the new employee stands to pay dividends for your company’s bottom line.


Nell Terry is a tech news junkie, fledgling Internet marketer and staff writer for SiteProNews,
one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs. She thrives on social media, web design, and uncovering the truth about all the newest marketing fads that pop up all over the ‘net. Find out more about Nell by visiting her online portfolio at Content by Nell.

17 Responses to “Google+, Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn – Which is Best?

    avatar Ian Smith says:

    I’m sorry but this article is of little use.
    The real issue is about what works for your business in its stage of the business life-cycle and in your marketplace. Its not about “Once you’ve selected your social network of choice”.

    It’s easy to create the accounts in these Social Media tools but its not easy to maintain them. So one should carefully select and create the account and also spend time in updation or dedicate a staff for doing it.

    avatar roy says:

    Very beautiful and knowledgeable post.
    I think Facebook is still dominating other twos.

    avatar Dan says:

    Ian Smith had it all right. Social media doesn’t mean a thing. Face to face in your market place will always work best and it allows the best knowledge of people apart from anyone who types in a dark basement holding a coffee cup full of NyQuil.

    avatar Dariusz says:

    Hi! When writing about Google+, it seems that you have forgotten about very good feature for business, called Pages. Google released Pages to cut down the criticism that businesses cannot open Google+ account, using their business name.
    I’m going to use this Google+ Pages in the coming months. Hope this is helpfull toll.

    avatar AllanIT says:

    Social media and marketing strategy are contradictory terms. If you are being social you are not marketing to someone and if you are marketing then you are not being social.

    No one has been able to quantify exactly what percentage of Social media contacts have been turned into new sales that the marketer would not have picked up in some other way.

    Most companies who spend any time using Social media to market them selves have a large number of staff and can afford to have some Y waste their time all day responding to inane dribble or pay an Indian call centre to do it for them.

    If you’re in business for yourself and you want to market your business through social media you will have to limit the amount of time you spend dealing with the constant stream of dribble that will head your way or you will not be in business for long.

    avatar Glendene says:

    It is simply not possible for a ‘one person business’ to spend time maintaining a presence on social media AND maintain the day-to-day activities such as adding quality content, preparing newsletters, responding to customer requests, link building and other important SEO practices.

    Personally, I find social media a highly overrated medium which is worth little to my business objectives.

    avatar Nina says:

    I have heard times without number the benefit of the social network to businesses, but I am yet to see companies come forward to testify how theses social media has boos their sales especially facebook. How many companies have increases leads through facebook?

    avatar Dr Ian Smith says:

    “Personally, I find social media a highly overrated medium which is worth little to my business objectives.”
    To a large extent Glendene – I agree. But I’m beginning to identify that certain businesses CAN benefit, it’s just a matter of recognising the required circumstances.
    The problem is that the only people saying how great it is tends to be journalists, not marketing professionals.

    avatar Leonard says:

    I tend to agree with the fact that no all business models benefit greatly (financially) from using social networks.

    A good example is the difference between my Denver directory site and the obesity information site that I built for my wife.

    Since we do not sell products, we depend a great deal on Adsense and other type programs.Though the more traffic that we get from the social networks the more people click around on ads.

    But most of our visitors are lookie-loos and just want in and out, no matter how nice our sites look.

    avatar Lee Ward says:

    Use of social media needs to be part of the overall Web Marketing strategy for you business. Business owners need to sit down and work out how to integrate online marketing with traditional methods

    avatar Nina says:

    Dr. Smith,
    I’m glad there is someone else out there who shares my view about the impact of social media on the online retail trade.

    The problem with the society is that everybody tends to believe what propaganda of a particular opinion push out to the masses, without substantiating their claims.

    As Google+, facebook and the rest try to convince online retailers that they can boost the number of traffic to their sites my signing up in the social media. Every blogging out there re-echoes them because they want to “hijack”, these claims and publish “good content”. Every on line retailer swallows the pill without verification of any sort.

    I have not seen any on line retailers come forward with data showing that their sales increased by a certain percentage because they signed up in any or all these social media.

    I am still waiting for at least hundreds not thousands of online retailers to come forward with convincing data, that these social media have boosted the number of their sales

    avatar Art says:

    I like Twitter, you can choose who you want and its a never ending place for information based on everything known.
    Social Media networks as a whole are a farce for making a buck.

    avatar Lenia says:

    Very interesting article. As you mention, small businesses do not have the time to invest in the social media. Some of them have already chosen the social media they want to be in. Off course, Facebook is almost always one of their choices. But what about after ?
    They really don’t know how to manage them, what is their goal, what to talk about, how to engage people, how to increase their sales by using the social media.
    So I agree, defining the goals is very important. Facebook seems to be very promising. But I believe that all social media is a long term investment for every business.

    avatar Ian Smith says:

    “Off course, Facebook is almost always one of their choices. But what about after ?”

    That’s the problem Lenia, Facebook is a complete waste of time for many businesses.

    avatar Ian Smith says:

    Well said Nina.
    “I am still waiting for at least hundreds not thousands of online retailers to come forward with convincing data, that these social media have boosted the number of their sales”
    I have had more than a handful of debates on forums with ‘social media experts’ and I too have asked for solid supporting evidence. Not seen any – apart from a handful of high profile meg-organisations.

    Thanks for the great article. I like to use all of these services. Sometimes I’m not sure if I should be using them under my company or my personal name.

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