In a broken and imperfect world, you would be asked to choose; which one of the many social media sites is best to use, if you could only choose one? Of course, in the real world, you can use more than one without issue. On the other hand, you’re not always able to devote the same amount of time and money to each. You may have to limit your choices or start with one before branching out into the others. So the question maintains relevance; which is the best?
For most webmasters, Facebook will be the first on the list. Facebook has the largest audience of the most varied people out of all social media sites. You can run with any business and any marketing strategy, from hyper-professional to incredibly casual, and still attract an audience. It’s easy to get started and it’s easy to build and grow. Facebook also has the advantage of a significant, powerful and easy to use advertising system. Taking advantage of Facebook retargeting further broadens your options. Furthermore, Facebook is widely trusted and monitored; if your site is doing well on Facebook, users assume it has authority and put their trust in it.
Facebook is not without its drawbacks, of course. It’s known to frequently and unexpectedly change up some of its systems, often to the detriment of users. The recent Facebook announcement of what amounts to audio spying in the mobile app is driving away mobile users. Facebook can also be the center of a storm of controversy, where a social media manager’s blowup can have long-lasting repercussions.
Google+ is a Google property, and as you might expect, they have pushed some subtle benefits for webmasters and businesses. First of all, Google+ integrates nicely with other Google properties, and you never know what new features they’ll add next. Secondly, sharing a piece of content on Google+ is one of the ways Google discovers new sites; it’s great for getting a fresh site indexed quickly. Google+ has an audience made up primarily of young professionals, and it’s great if that’s where your audience lies. If it’s not, however, you’re going to have a hard time pulling together an audience sizable enough to be worth it.
Google+ also offers a few excellent SEO benefits; followed profile links and Authorship. Authorship in particular is a massive boon to those who put it to use, optimizing their pictures for eye-catching brilliance. Followed profile links are potentially quite powerful, but they rely on you building your profile to such a point where the link authority passed by your profile is significant.
Few webmasters will consider Twitter to be their number one platform, but it’s great for a few specific uses. Twitter’s nearly instant response time allows you to hold real time conversations with your audience, complete with the ability to deal with customer service issues the instant they appear. Some tech businesses have put this to good use and use Twitter almost exclusively.
Twitter is also great for promoting fresh content, though the strict character limit makes it difficult to post unique content on the site itself. Twitter is a wonderful place to network and interact with other businesses, though you can’t necessarily create lasting relationships with just Twitter as a foundation. Thankfully, Twitter doesn’t require much setup or training to use, and the conventions – the @ mentions and hashtags, primarily – are not hard to gasp.
If you’re looking for business to business marketing or networking with industry related workers, administrators and entrepreneurs, LinkedIn is the best network to choose. LinkedIn groups are a powerful tool to build audiences, though the ability to promote yourself in those groups is limited. It’s easy to get sanctioned for being too promotional, to the point of spam, on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is also great in a non-marketing sense; if you’re looking to hire new employees, many of them are already on LinkedIn looking for jobs. LinkedIn also allows you to accumulate endorsements, which are a powerful factor for trust when it comes to building a reputation. You can put your SEO skills to use on LinkedIn with your content as well, optimizing your profile so your business is at its most visible.
Of course, LinkedIn has one flaw; it’s not Facebook, so it doesn’t have the same massive audience. The site can often seem a little daunting to get into, particularly when ongoing discussions and old groups are involved. Still, watching, learning and carefully participating will get you where you want to be.
With Instagram, you’re getting into niche social media networks and chances are you won’t pick them for your first, primary network to join. The exception is if you’re running a business primarily centered around that network or around what that network does. In the case of Instagram, that means pictures, plain and simple. Instagram would be a great platform to use to market your own pictures, or image editing software, among other things.
Instagram doesn’t have the audience or the traffic of most other social sites, but it’s still a place to establish a presence, particularly if you have any leanings towards graphic design and artistry. A few clever, artistic or beautiful images can get you a place of honor.
Pinterest, again, has a smaller audience, but the audience is surprisingly dedicated. In fact, over 70 percent of users on Pinterest use the site as inspiration for a future purchase. If you’re the kind of business that sells products that are typically once-a-decade purchases, Pinterest may be a great place to start. Plus, you can make pin boards dedicated to inventive ways to use your products, or ways users have used them. Pinterest, despite being image-based, gives you plenty of SEO opportunities as well.
Few people think of YouTube as a social media site; most simply use it for video hosting. In fact, common wisdom is often to ignore YouTube comments entirely, due to the spammy nature of the average user. Fortunately, since the Google+ integration, YouTube has tamed somewhat. It’s still a great place to host videos, but you can build a community around your channel as well. Plenty of people make their livings through YouTube, and when you’re running a business, it can be an excellent supplement.
Tumblr is primarily populated with people under 30, and they’re highly focused on social justice issues. Tumblr has its own unique culture with an emphasis on inventive ways of stating common issues, a focus on art and a keen awareness of popular culture. If your business can compete in this arena, it can be highly rewarding to join. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to get into if you’re not dedicating time to learning its hazards.
Use Orkut here as a stand-in for the primary social media site of choice for your country. Where the above information is tailored to a predominately United States audience, Orkut – and other foreign social sites – has a different focus. Orkut specifically is hugely popular in Brazil and India, two markets where Facebook and Google+ may not be the best choice. If you’re catering to any country other than the United States or the UK, consider looking for whatever is most popular in that area ahead of the rest.