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    July 17, 2012 // 9:00 AM

    An Introduction to 7 of the Most Popular Social Networks for Business

    Written by Rebecca Corliss | @

    social network superpowersintroductory3

    People expect different type of content on each social media network. Not only does that mean the content you post to each network needs to be unique; it might also mean that you shouldn't be hopping on every single social network out there to meet your company's business goals.

    But how do you even make that decision if you're new to the social media game? The best way is to get to know the different "personalities" of each network so you can understand how to leverage it best for your business. Using this article as your guide, you'll get to know some of the most popular social networks, learn what their super powers are, and determine whether they're a good fit for your brand. So let's analyze the key players in the social space, and talk about each of their strengths and weaknesses to help you decide who you should be hanging out with!

    Getting to Know Twitter, The Buzz Generator

    Twitter hit its 500 millionth user this past February, and the network is active and abuzz with links, chatter, one line self reflections, and just plain content. To inbound marketers, all of this content probably seems pretty great -- but it also means it takes a lot of work to get your  content to stand out in the crowd. Just look at how often HubSpot posts on Twitter to get our content some visibility in the news feed!

    twitter posting frequency

     

    Twitter's Superpower

    Twitter brings a viral, buzz-generating component to your marketing. For example, when a business has a massive group of people either sharing content or using a hashtag all at once, that has a big, very visible impact. Twitter is right for you if you are looking for a network where you can build a large audience that you can incite to action -- potentially all at once to create a viral effect. Mind you, that type of audience growth takes time ... but the value of creating such a large network sure pays off!

    Getting to Know Facebook, The Humanizer

    Facebook is most-used social networking site around the world. In fact, a recent study found it to be the top-visited social media site in 126 of the 137 countries studied. Still think your audience isn't using social media? Think again.

    People use Facebook to keep in touch with friends, view their grandkid's baby pictures, discover content their friends are sharing, and more. It's a truly powerful connector. But how do companies fit into this social network that focuses so heavily on the human connection? Users expect companies on Facebook to act more like friends, and less like, well, companies. This means your updates should be friendlier, and show personality through photos and videos that make your brand seem more relatable. That's why we use Facebook to share things like important milestones in our company's life, just like you would with your friends and family!

    HubSpot on Facebook

     

    Facebook's Superpower

    Facebook as a social tool will help a business become more likeable. By engaging like you naturally would with friends, your fans will respond and interact with you and your content in the way they feel most comfortable on that network -- colloquially. Use this to build a loyal fanbase who will view, click, and share your content so your reach continues to grow. If your company is not comfortable being a bit more flexible and friendly in its tone, however, Facebook might not be the best bet.

    Getting to Know Quora, The Authority Builder

    Quora boasts a slightly smaller user base than Twitter and Facebook with 1.1 million monthly users. But even though the network is smaller doesn't mean you should balk at its marketing potential. If you've ever participated in Quora's Q&A, you'll know that the quality of questions asked and answers provided is extremely high. While Quora might not be the right network for your business as a major traffic driver considering the lower usage volume, it could be a great place to build your company's authority and thought leadership, generating much higher quality leads (albeit at a lower volume) in the long run.

    HubSpot on Quora

     

    Quora's Superpower

    Use Quora to build the authority of specific employees. For example, you could encourage your sales and marketing employees to search for questions your leads commonly ask, and provide insightful answers to which you can point future leads. What a great way to build trust and rapport!

    Getting to Know Google+, The Search Optimizer

    Google+ launched business pages in fall of 2011, at which point Google+ usage picked up as brands started creating their own pages and building their following. But since then, its been reported that usage has significantly decreased -- eMarketer reported that users only spend an average of 3.3 minutes on Google+ in a single session, down from 5.1 minutes in November 2011. Yikes. Looks like it's not incredibly active as a social network ... so what's the value? The value comes from its SEO support.

    HubSpot on Google+

     

    Google+'s Superpower

    When you post your content to Google+, you're making it more likely your company's content will rank well in Google's SERPs. That's because, much to the dismay of many other social networks, Google is considering factors such as +1's of content when deciding how high to rank a piece of content. Google also started to index and feature Google+ status updates, author names, and 'Add to Circles' buttons in search results, making your activity on Google+ even more important for a strong organic search presence.

    Getting to Know Pinterest, The Artist

    Pinterest, the "newest" social network on the block, has actually been around since 2008! Gaining some serious popularity earlier this year, the network is an excellent tool for sharing and spreading a company's visual content. After all, images can often tell a far more profound story or give insight into a feeling in a more powerful way than mere text. If you're producing more visual content, you can easily share that content through channels like Pinterest by "pinning" it to a board. 

    HubSpot on Pinterest

     

    Pinterest's Superpower

    Pinterest is easy to maintain and grow if you're more reliant on visuals than text in your industry. We do, however, recommend writing descriptions for every image you pin to provide further explanation for those looking to learn more about your pin. And before you go saying Pinterest is just for wedding planners and hairdressers, remember that your visuals could include anything from photos, to graphs, to infographics! They key with Pinterest is, when someone clicks your image to see the source, you're directing them to your website so you can convert all that Pinterest traffic. So go on, have a little fun with your social media marketing!

    Getting to Know LinkedIn, The Professional

    LinkedIn has a very distinct personality. It's the most suited-up network, generally rather conservative, and reserved for business-focused conversations. For B2B companies, LinkedIn is an incredibly valuable channel. In a HubSpot study last year, in fact, we found that LinkedIn is 277% more effective for lead generation than Facebook and Twitter. Since LinkedIn users are generally in a business-focused mindset, lead generation content that's extremely valuable and provides a solution to a common problem in your industry can work incredibly well.

    HubSpot on LinkedIn

     

    LinkedIn's Superpower

    Use LinkedIn to target other businesses -- if that's your goal, of course. Use your content to provide solutions to business-related problems, and people will naturally share your content in an attempt to boost their own clout, not to mention click your content so you can generate more leads. Don't be afraid of posting white papers and reports here, either -- this is the type of content that typically performs quite well on LinkedIn.

    Getting to Know YouTube, The Story Teller

    YouTube is different from the rest of the bunch for obvious reasons -- it's geared specifically towards video! And it has a lot of video. In fact, YouTube reports that 3 billion hours of video are watched each month on the social network. Video is a powerful story-telling mechanism, so it's no wonder marketers are using video to celebrate customer success, get customers excited about an event, or use music to teach someone something new. 

    YouTube's Superpower

    Use YouTube to tell important stories about your company, to entertain your audience, and even to educate them (ever thought of creating a how-to video?) As with most visual content, sometimes it's easier to get your message across with something a bit more interactive; and that's when YouTube comes in handy! You can also embed your videos in your blog or on other social networks so the videos can get more reach. Plus, YouTube is owned by Google ... you can bet those videos will be indexed in organic search!

    After you understand the different personalities of each of these social networks, you're better equipped to determine which ones match the personality and needs of your brand. If you're just starting out in social media, it should help you approach these networks with less of a blind eye, and create content that better matches the tone of the content already on that platform.

    Based on your brand, which social network do you think is the best fit for you? How does your use of each social network differ?

    Image credit: JD Hancock

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    Topics: Social Media

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