For many people, Facebook, like various other social media platforms, is a great way to connect, share thoughts, photos, and life events. As a marketing and communications professional, I know the value and power of social media for personal and business use. Contrary to what many of my friends and family members thought when I canceled my Facebook account, I'm not "old school" or "against" social media, I just know the responsibility that comes with it.
"For business and personal brands, social media provides opportunities and risks for reputation management."
For business and personal brands, social media provides opportunities and risks for reputation management. Take for example, our current political state of affairs where politicians and candidates are using Twitter as an unfiltered brain dump, with little regard to the consequences.
There are many personal uses for social media, including personal information-sharing, communications, photo sharing, activism, and mere entertainment, to name a few.
Business uses for social media should not be confused with personal. Various platforms are commonly used for business -- the leading platforms include LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Facebook business pages, YouTube, and various industry-specific platforms like Houzz. For business communications and engagement, you should take into account these platform-specific considerations:
LinkedIn: Despite the fact that it isn’t necessarily the most popular social networking site available, business marketers are finding good results with business-related content on LinkedIn. Users of LinkedIn tend to be more professional than any other social networking site and can more easily be segmented and targeted. As a result, those users are much more likely to respond positively to business content -- not your latest vacation pictures.
Twitter is surprisingly almost as effective, given the level of noise generated by users of the platform. That's because Twitter has a huge active user base, combined with an ability to promote tweets and target specific user profiles via advertising. Almost 80% of Twitter users recommend brands that they follow, which is a compelling reason to invest in content and advertising on the platform.
YouTube is next in business utilization as a social platform, but based on various studies, more effective than Facebook. Video is a great tool to tell complicated business stories and concepts, so YouTube is quite effective. As with Google+ (see below), YouTube is also owned by Google, which means greater potential visibility in organic search results.
Facebook Business Page: Consider that Facebook requires all Business Pages to be linked to a personal account so that a personal user can administer the page. It's also against Facebook Terms of Policy to create a personal account for a business.
Google+: Company websites that have a Google+ component, are being favored in Google Search results over ones that don’t. As a result, your company or brand absolutely should have a presence on the site -- even if it’s only for the purposes of search engine optimization (SEO). Google+ offers brand pages, and location pages for business, which can only be managed through your Google My Business portal (unlike personal Google+ pages).
My companies do have corporate Twitter accounts, LinkedIn company pages, Google+ profiles, Houzz.com profile, YouTube channel, and websites with blogs. For various reasons and considerations (outlined below), I drew the line at Facebook after a 6-month experiment with a personal account. Again, I'm not opposed to Facebook as a channel, but I simply don't have a need for it, or the time to maintain an account properly.
There are many reasons to have social media accounts (all of which I considered when creating my personal and company accounts), and they are worth considering. Don't get an account just because "everyone else is doing it". Before you create a Facebook account, ask yourself these questions:
Will my business be served by a Facebook presence? Is my company website inadequate for conveying my messages to "inbound" audiences?
Am I ok with having my online activities recorded and available (hopefully without hacking) indefinitely?
Are there audiences I can only connect with on Facebook?
Am I ok with having my activities tracked for big data gathering and personalized advertising?
Do I have time to maintain my public persona and reputation, including the tagging of photos by others?
If you answered "yes" to these questions, then you're ready to start or continue your Facebook adventure. If you answered "no" or hadn't really thought about these questions, I suggest you pause and consider the options and how they impact your brand's reputation management.
As with many things in life, social media can be beneficial and engaging for your business, but you should consider the pros and cons before you embark on that journey. At CMO Within Reach, these considerations play an important role in how we advise our clients on social media. I hope you will find them helpful. See you online!