Friends With Benefits: Will Facebook Make You Money?
- The question now is not whether companies should invest in social networks, but what social network should they concentrate their forces on.
- They say that Facebook is at the end of the traditional 8 year life-cycle for online ‘crazes’. I disagree.
In recent times the main question was whether companies would invest in developing their brand through social networks. But ‘recent times’ in the social network timeline simply represents the dead and defunct past, remember how quickly the MySpace behemoth was slain? This environment changes with incredible speed. The question now is not whether companies should invest in social networks, but what social network should they concentrate their forces on. Facebook? Twitter? Linkedin? Google+? Which is most effective?
This is an extensive subject and far too large for a single post. As such, I pose a question. Is Facebook the best for business?
Many would say yes. I say no. Do not be distracted by the 800+ million users but instead focus on what companies are trying to achieve through social media. The end game for commercial businesses is to make profits. Think about what you do on Facebook: you want to know what other people are doing, organise birthday parties, reunions, even possibly look at beach photos of a certain someone (don’t deny it!). The vast majority of people are not looking for a service or product. Sure, it is great for brand awareness and can add great value but I would argue there are better ways.
Sceptical at first, I wondered why you would want to know what some B-list celebrity was doing every 2 minutes. But then that is not what Twitter is really useful for, and that is instant news. When you are with a group of people and someone asks “what’s the score”, or rumours of breaking news spread, it is always those with a Twitter account that are first to confirm the news. But why is this good for business? Not only because of the Twitter etiquette of following your followers, but also because the main functionality of Twitter is obviously Tweets. As such, this is what people pay attention to. It is in this way that companies can keep people up to date with news, improvements and also gently remind them that they are still there…
Nowhere near the popularity of Facebook and Twitter but with a stark difference: Your 5 year old daughter is not on LinkedIn. It is specifically designed for professional networking and business. Therefore, I would argue that your conversion rates from visitors to customers would be highest with LinkedIn. It is a network for professionals and so with LinkedIn you can sort the wheat from the chaff. Admittedly, your brand awareness will not be as widespread but others would argue over quality, not quantity. Furthermore, the groups on LinkedIn are like mini forums with industry specific threads being discussed by specialists in their areas – you can also check their backgrounds and company to verify their authenticity.
A relatively new platform but growing in popularity and lest we forget the colossal funding that is available to Google. There were many who were predicting Google+ dominance when it first came out, but it has not yet delivered. This is not to say that it is a failure, in fact recent studies show that the percentage of users that were inactive (a serious problem for Google+) is actually decreasing and companies are posting updates more regularly. Furthermore, it is very useful in categorising your peers within designated circles and organising your contacts. Google+ is growing – ignore it at your own peril!
When using Social Media to increase traffic and revenue companies must understand the users of various platforms. Put it this way, if you wanted to send an invitation on a social network for an all night rave – would you post it in a group for accountants or a group for university students? As with many aspects of life and communication, you must identify your audience. Various social networks have pros and cons. Twitter is great for increasing brand loyalty and awareness of updates, Linkedin is more specific and probably best for converting connections/visitors into customers due to their forum-like groups, and Google+ is ever growing and cannot be discounted. This is also a mere snippet of the sites out there. Do some investigating – maybe Pinterest is more aligned with your company, or perhaps the pure blogging functionalities of Tumblr can help.
I am NOT saying that Facebook is obsolete. They say that Facebook is at the end of the traditional 8 year life-cycle for online ‘crazes’. I disagree. I would not discount the use of Facebook due to the sheer amount of users. Furthermore, users have well developed profiles on Facebook and it is incredibly popular, but there are certainly other viable options. Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer and businesses will always want different results from their social media campaigns. The only answer I can give you is that if you do not actively look to increase your network within social media, your campaign will never be as effective as it can be!
REMEMBER that without Friends, Connections, Followers or Circlers your company will not get the desired exposure. Send friend requests, add connections, attract followers and circlers, and then execute your social media strategy in accordance with your plan.