Social Networking has been a vital part of business strategies for the past few years. The use of Social Networking for marketing purposes, known as Social Media, has many different definitions depending on who you ask. I’ve included a link to a list of 50 definitions for your review.
Social Media is vital to today’s business – why? The old adage, “Make a customer happy, they’ll tell a friend. Make a customer angry and they’ll tell 10 friends,” takes on a whole new meaning in today’s world. In fact, it is more like, “Make a customer happy or angry and they are telling 10,000 friends.” The truth is when a customer has a poor user experience or customer service experience with your company they are not going to go to your website or call you – they are going to their friends on the social networks. Social Networking also provides your business with exposure to customers you may never have reached otherwise. Traditional marketing has a limited reach that Social Media does not.
While there are many social networking sites available, the ones we are most familiar with and those that are most recognized in supporting business, are Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Of course, Google+ has also entered the foray and is attempting to become friendlier to business in many aspects including usability.
Stupidcat.com has come to the conclusion that Twitter is far superior for promotional and marketing efforts to any other social platform. This article will provide insight into why we believe this to be true, as well as provide a glimpse into the future in terms of where we believe the medium is headed.
In working with the various social platforms, we have found the following with regard to how they are used and their effectiveness:
Facebook (750 Million Registered Users)
Facebook is the network for family and friends. It has evolved over the years, but it continues to be short of the glory in terms of a truly effective business social network. Of course, it all depends on your approach.
The problem comes when you begin to look at less known brands, local business and B2B companies not supporting consumer based activities. Creating a Facebook tab and offering coupons on Facebook is not enough. Ever notice people on Twitter thanking you for following them and then asking you to like them on Facebook? For business, Facebook requires support of other marketing approaches in order to make it work.
Facebook has worked hard to monetize its business and offers advertising – however, this is another of its pitfalls for business. These ads perform far less than a banner ad on any other site. Ask yourself, when you are on Facebook, do you really look at the ads? Check out the Mashable story on this topic.
LinkedIn (120 Million + Registered Users)
LinkedIn takes the traditional meet and greet of the afterhours Chamber of Commerce organizations to the virtual set. This is where you rub elbows with other business leaders and “network” in order to get your foot in the door.
It can be very effective for businesses of all kinds (including those that Facebook tends to fail, like B2B companies and others).
However, some say it is suffering from similar Facebook privacy woes and several companies have banned its use by its employees and sales staff. Some companies have reported that employees were taking company confidential information and distributing it through this social site.
Some users are annoyed at LinkedIn’s practices concerning unannounced updates and security/privacy impacts caused by these changes. Check out this article on LinkedIn’s privacy.
Google + (25 Million + Registered Users)
Google has become the love of every technophile. If you are one of those geeks who like to get under the hood and are a little more than the average “gadget guy/girl”, then you are likely a fan of all things Google. Android device enthusiasts are generally more technical than the typical smartphone or consumer level user. Like Apple, there are passionate fans in the Google camp. Google user interfaces seem to be designed by engineers. They don’t generally have intuitive or well packaged design within their interfaces. They are clinical or cold designs that leave the user unemotional about their product user interfaces. This can be challenging for them as seen in the Google+ offering.
Google+ tried to bridge the gaps left by Facebook and, at the surface, it first appeared as though they were going to really have something. The Circles feature was the key security/privacy feature that Facebook was missing (at the time). It gave a feeling of confidence and allowed me to make the choice of what content I wanted to publish publicly.
As time goes, however, Facebook has begun to add some Google influenced enhancements and is trying to improve its offering and rebuild user confidence. Yet, Google+ still suffers from a drab user interface and has lost its luster with early adopters. Even as Google+ continues to try and enhance the system, it is bleeding members and has failed at its first attempt to provide business pages. Who knows where this story will go next?
So why is Twitter better?
Twitter was designed to be a way to update your current status to many people from a single SMS message.
Twitter was launched in March of 2006. Twitter has 200 Million Registered Users.
Since 2006, we believe that Twitter has been primarily responsible for the social movement. We believe this because it facilitates users’ following, engaging and building relationships with people with like interests – not just family and friends and known entities. For instance, the Twitter “Who To Follow” feature is a perfect example. It suggests other Twitter accounts for you to follow. These are not people you are necessarily friends with or that are family members. These are folks who are interested in the same things you are. This is much different than Facebook’s Find Friends, for example, because there is some sort of relationship associated between you and the suggestion such as a friend of someone you are friends with, etc.
Of course, there are recommended methods to engaging with people on Twitter. You can’t be successful charging in with the traditional offline marketing and sales techniques. Instead, you have to engage, build relationships and become a subject matter expert. You have to UN-Market (read this book!).
These elements are what make Twitter the leading social platform for business use. From a sales relationship building perspective, Twitter allows you to create relationships in record time. It takes the “cold” out of “cold calling.” Tweetchats and Hashtags are also key in the Twitter arsenal that can be used for creative marketing.
People are learning to communicate with 140 characters at a time – it is much quicker to get your point across – it is your online elevator speech.
Business moves at the speed of light – Twitter is a tool supportive of this fact.
So, what is the future?
Facebook has started to stall by losing 7 million active users in the United States and Canada in May 2011.
Twitter’s growth has been astronomical! Just think, in March 2010 Twitter had 50 Million registered users – today they have 200 Million.
One of Steve Jobs more recent decisions is to include Twitter in the latest iOS operating system update for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch being released any day now. Apple has worked with Twitter to tightly integrate at the operating system level. Twitter will be available across applications (that support it) including the camera, email contacts, Safari and more. With the millions of devices that are in consumers’ hands and have the option of upgrading to the latest OS, we foresee a mass movement in the Twitterverse.
It is our opinion at Stupidcat.com that this decision (coupled with the continued decline of Facebook, Google’s weak positioning and LinkedIn’s lack of device integration) is going to catapult Twitter to the leader in social networking over the next 18 months.
It is important that every strategy considers all the possibilities and opportunities. Building the right web presence is like mixing the right ingredients for a recipe. Every presence is different and requires a unique approach.
So, of course, we are not advocating “pick one and drop the rest”, here. No, every strategy should include a plan for expanding your visibility online. You need a web presence, not just a web site. We ARE saying that if you want to focus on one success driven social network – Twitter is the way to go.
So what do you think? Is Twitter the more marketable social platform for business? Do you see the “Apple factor” as being the fuel for a Twitter launch? Tell us in the comments; we want to hear what you think!
About Steve Crandall
Steve in a nutshell – Husband. Father. Graphic artist. Collaborated publisher of an anthology graphic comic book series titled The Barbed Rose in 1990. 90s hobbyist BBS operator (Trade Wars was awesome!). Programmer. Entrepreneur. Founder of Stupidcat.com. Web designer. Amateur Photographer. Star Trek and Star Wars fan. Geek. I have been in the web design business since 1993. My experience spans all things web including HTML, CSS, jQuery, Classic ASP, a little PHP and all things User Interface related. I have always been supportive and helpful to the web industry by assisting where needed. Feel free to hit me up with your questions @stupidcatdesign.