Friday, October 21, 2011

Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ are Not the Same


People use social networks in different ways, which might have implications for the ways brands use social media venues.

On Twitter, users “follow” other users (which may include businesses) to obtain information, share updates, and also to be social. Users are open to following brands, so Twitter is great for sharing links to content.

The tone is informal, and users commonly connect with brands for customer support, new content, contests, and offers. Who users choose to “follow back” is fairly open, and users are generally comfortable connecting with more people even if they don't "know" them.

Facebook users either create personal accounts or interact as brands using  business pages, but users on. Facebook are commonly more strict about who they connect and become "friends" with on Facebook.

Usually, Facebook "friendship" is limited to who a person already knows or is friends with in real life. Posts and updates in the network can be longer-form, but the network appreciates less frequent and more valuable updates from businesses, particularly updates that offer exclusive offers and content.

LinkedIn is a network that mainly attracts and suits the needs of business professionals, making it a perhaps uniquely  great fit for B2B marketers. The network has more of a business networking and career focus, and the way users connect is much more formal.

Content shared and discussions that start are usually more industry and business-focused.

Google+  currently attracts an audience that is more “digitally savvy” and  technology focused. The Google+ audience also is mainly male. But Google+ is the newest major social network and its audience profile probably will change over time. So far, Google has chosen deliberately to restrict “business accounts,” but that will come.

One might argue that Twitter is purpose built for content sharing. Facebook, always a “must use” network, is probably better suited to pormotions and branding. LinkedIn is the best B2B venue. Google+ is probably the most-important “new” venue, but its character is not yet fully shaped. Of the major networks, it is the place content marketers need to watch, even if it is not yet as important a venue as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.  Social nets are used differently

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