If anyone asked, I’m sure you could spout off a hundred reasons your company should be involved in social media. But do you still need to get started? Which social network would be the best fit? What are some good first steps?
Yes, I believe in social media. How else can you scale talking to people and learning more about them? Building relationships is a two-way street that can benefit you far more than just turning on a faucet of traditional advertising media. But to have conversations, you need to be where your customers are. B2B? Yes, you have customers, too!
Slow and steady wins the race – so setting up one account that you spend an hour on each day is going to be worth more than setting up five accounts and forgetting about them all. But you want to pick the right account to create.
Let’s take a look at two that you should consider, LinkedIn and Facebook, and the advantages and disadvantages of each platform.
LinkedIn is great at presenting itself as the social network for businesspeople. As such, it attracts professionals, including ones making the decisions for their company, sometimes even based on the information they find on LinkedIn. However, LinkedIn is still a harder place to have conversations with many people.
- Create a customizable business page. The first thing people see on your business page is a logo and a summary, as well as the staff of the company. You can also add a tab displaying your products and services – consider it another sales page! Also look into apps that can extend other functionality to your page, like polls.
- Get recommended. Not only can your business have a page displaying products and services, customers or clients can log on and recommend the services they used, helping to show others the quality of whatever you’re selling. Clearly, this is a huge asset, and it is worth your time to ask for those recommendations.
- (Mostly) professional audience. If you’re selling products or services to a professional audience, this is a great thing – when you strike up a conversation with a random LinkedIn user, there’s a good chance that they’ll be in your target audience. They are also more likely to be ready to engage with business-related content on behalf of their company, instead of being distracted by the updates from family or friends.
- Be seen as an authority. Your company and brand are directly related to the experience and expertise of your team. Use that to your advantage – encourage your employees and coworkers to maintain up-to-date profiles and answer questions to give several voices to your company, not just one.
- Less conversation. The burden of conversation falls to you, and isn’t necessarily seen by followers of your company. To create more interaction, you could also create or join groups, but it could end up being twice as hard to have a user both follow your company and join your group.
- Lacking some customization. With your company page, you only really have control over a couple of pages that people can see. This could lead to people clicking through to your business page, but it also could lose their interest.
Facebook gets the size award – and it’s not just for teenagers anymore! It’s estimated that Facebook has as many professionals as LinkedIn, but they’re mixed in with a range of other people as well. If you have a wide client base, then that’s great! If not, you can still be heard on Facebook, too.
- Personalized fan page. The fan page is rapidly becoming a replacement for a personal page. Fan pages can be personalized in more ways than a personal profile, and, as of recently, you can post comments and share stories under the company name instead of your individual name. This could be great for using multiple people to handle the communications of the business online.
- Interaction with followers. Facebook allows for very easy engagement – all someone has to do is press a “Like” button or add a comment to something in their News Feed, so they don’t even need to access your page. However, making sure that your update is seen in their News Feed is another matter entirely.
- Interaction with other businesses. The latest update made it possible for business/fan pages to follow other pages – so you could connect with your suppliers, distributors, or contractors. This is almost the only way to interact directly business-to-business online.
- Perceived as being casual. Many users only use Facebook to stay in contact with family or friends, so they could see your brand as being irrelevant to them, even if they do have a career in your chosen field. Segmenting an online personality is very common.
- Takes more time. Your profile needs more frequent updates to seem alive (or to be seen in News Feeds) and has more chances for personalization, all of which take time and energy.
Social Media Profiles in Action
You can peruse company profiles on LinkedIn and fan pages on Facebook to see what others have done with them, but if you want a couple examples of big companies, check out the paradox: Facebook’s Company Page on LinkedIn and LinkedIn’s Fan Page on Facebook. Dizzy yet?
So much information – which should you focus on? As you were reading, you might have found that one platform or the other resonated more with you, so go with your gut (and where your customers are).
For B2B businesses, or B2C businesses with corporate clients, LinkedIn would be a great choice, especially if you have a limited amount of time to invest in your page. On the other hand, if you want to share information and be heard, even multiple times a day, or if you are working with people who might not have a LinkedIn account, creating a Facebook page could be powerful. Either way, play up the strengths of your platform and find ways to work around their weaknesses – and watch out for the next update!
And if you want more opinions to help make up your mind, others have compared LinkedIn to Facebook, too. Or add your thoughts and opinions below!
This is a guest post by Maria Walters, a freelance writer and blogger who first logged onto Facebook when it was college student-only. Since then, her love affair with the internet has kept her interested in all things blog- and website-related, including SEO and social media. As a staff blogger for Single Grain, Search and Social, she recently compiled the ultimate list of link-building techniques for you to enjoy (and take action on!).