When it comes to social networking, the choices are almost limitless–but your time and energy are not.
Therefore, it helps to focus your social networking efforts on the platforms that will give you the most results.
For starters, look at the three most popular social networking sites: Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. In this post, I’ll give you an overview of each one and some guidelines to help you decide which platform to begin with or focus on.
Twitter is a micro-blogging platform where you communicate in a maximum of 140 characters. Twitter allows you to connect instantly with followers and follow people of interest to you.
Twitter has been growing at the crazy rate of over 1000% every year. Quantcast estimates over 50 million people visit Twitter every month–and that’s not counting the number of Twitter users who do so through a third-party client or software, such as Hootsuite and Tweetdeck.
The unique thing about Twitter is it allows you to send a message to any other user, even if they aren’t following you back. This is an excellent opportunity to introduce yourself and begin engaging with opinion makers and other key players in your niche – people you may otherwise never have the chance to “meet.”
Face to Face — Not!
Facebook was originally created for college students to share pictures, updates and other content with each other. Today, Facebook also allows users to create company pages and groups, which can become a gathering place for your community. It also offers ultra-targeted ads at (still) affordable rates.
An estimated 135 million people visit Facebook every month, according to Quantcast. This is a much bigger population than Twitter. What’s more, your updates aren’t limited to 140 characters. It’s also much easier to share pictures, videos, and notes on Facebook than on Twitter.
On the other hand, other users have to add you as a friend so you can engage with them. The cap on the number of friends you can have is 5,000. However, you cannot send a message to all your friends all at once. Which is why others prefer to create Facebook pages and groups. There’s no limit to the number of group members of page fans (or likers) you can have.
Plus, you can send a message to all your company page or group members all at once, which is key if you are marketing online.
LinkedIn is the professional social networking site. It has a reputation for being a tool by human resource managers, head hunters and other recruiters for finding good talent.
LinkedIn is the smallest of the Big 3. In February this year, LinkedIn announced welcoming its 60 millionth member. The estimated monthly traffic, by Quantcast, is 40 million.
After building your profile, you can add connections to friends, ask for and give recommendations and update your status. It’s the most “professional” of the social networks. LinkedIn is great for showing your business side, building your own groups, and participating in discussions.
Choosing A Social Networking Platform
If you’re just starting out, you’ll want to begin social networking in just one platform and then expand from there.
Which one should you start with?
It all depends on your target market and personal preference. Of course, you’ll want to be a constant presence in the social networking site that your target market prefers.
- regular tweet chats
- large and active groups in Facebook
- existing groups on LinkedIn
- where the opinion makers and thought leaders are
Choosing a social networking platform will also depend on your personal preference. If you enjoy using Facebook more than Twitter, then why force yourself to hang out on Twitter?
The good news is, your updates in each of these social networking platforms can be linked so that you don’t actually have to log into each one to publish new content. For example, every time you send a tweet you want maximum exposure for, it can appear on your Facebook and LinkedIn profiles. You can also set it up so every time you publish a new blog post, a link to it is automatically sent out from your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts.
This way, you can be active in only one platform but keep your profiles in other platforms fresh as well.
Which social networking site are you most active in? Why? How did you decide to focus on that one? Please share your experience in the comments below.
Photo from Crestock Stock Photography
Elena is founder of a technology PR agency that works with startups to billion-dollar companies. She is passionate about helping marketers and small business owners with practical publicity strategies, which she's also using for her own bling flip flop company.
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