Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are among the most popular social networking sites, but how do they stack up against each other when used for business? Let’s examine how each compares on features that drive business.
Businesses can create pages on Facebook and Google+ to share their company information, post photos, videos, and apps. Facebook offers Facebook Pages and Google+ offers Business Pages. A nice feature of Google+ is that it is tied to Google search, so the business page, profile image, and recent posts are likely to display on the right hand side of Google search results on a relevant search, making it easy for customers find. The business location will also show up on Google Maps. Twitter profiles, on the other hand, don’t allow for as much information as they are limited to 160 characters. Photos and videos can be uploaded and placed in an album that is viewable on the Twitter profile. Enhanced profile pages are available to businesses on Twitter for a sizeable fee (Hamburger, 2012, n.p.). One unique feature of Twitter is messages are kept to quick snippets which is great for businesses to give followers quick updates.
Discovery is somewhat easier with Google+ and Twitter than it is with Facebook. Google+ profile and location information displayed on searches makes finding businesses easy. Twitter Profiles and Facebook Pages also show up on public searches, although not as prominently on Google. Google’s Communities and Facebook’s Groups are areas where people with similar interests can gather and share information; hence, posting in these areas will enhance discovery. Twitter’s hashtag feature allows tweets to display on Twitter searches for that keyword. This is a great way for companies to broadcast messages on topics relating to their business, such as a tradeshow for example. With Twitter, you can follow any person or businesses and their tweets will display in your feed. Similarly, if you add someone to one of your circles in Google+, you can see their public posts. This allows businesses to keep up with customers, benchmarked companies, peers, and competitors. Conversely, Facebook is not as open – you have to be friends in order to see information. Businesses can attract new followers on all three platforms by adding follow buttons to websites, blogs, and other communications.
Personal recommendations go a long way. Companies can drive business by adding Like, +1, and Tweet buttons to their websites and blog posts. When visitors click on the buttons, they are essentially endorsing the product. The Like, +1, or tweet will be visible in the person’s timelines and feed. The comments associated with these endorsements give businesses valuable information about how their products are viewed and can drive product modification and innovation (Facebusinessworld.com, 2011, n.p.).
Each platform also offers a location service for users to let friends know where they are and what they’re doing. Users can check in at establishments to leave recommendations and comments. Businesses can use this as an advantage to run promotions and offer discounts.
Next, let’s talk about advertising opportunities. Facebook does offer advertising, and businesses can target audiences based on profiles, likes, locations, as well as information from third parties. Smart technology, cookies and apps allow ads to appear on and off Facebook. Twitter allows businesses to advertise through promoted tweets by targeting keywords in timelines, interests, geography, and gender. Twitter is also planning to allow companies to send promoted tweets to anyone who opens the Twitter mobile app near the business (Delo, 2013). Google+, on the other hand, doesn’t offer advertising; however, if you are an Adwords customer and you have a Google+ page, you can take advantage of Social Annotations where searchers will see information on your ad from your Google+ profile, such as number of followers and +1s.
One feature that is unique to Google+ that is worth mentioning is Hangouts which is a free video conferencing service that can be recorded or hosted live, and used both internally or externally by businesses. It’s a great way to get feedback from customers, or host a meeting.
Each of these popular sites offer benefits and unique features that allow companies to drive business. The key to success on all of them is customer engagement, offering meaningful content that followers will want to share, and being responsive when comments are received. Customers today want to be heard, and it’s important for companies to listen. Having a presence on all three is a good idea, because it’s likely that your customers do.
Delo, C. (2013). Twitter is Developing Geo-Targeted Ads for Retailers. Retrieved from http://adage.com/article/digital/twitter-developing-geo-targeted-ads-retailers/242725/
Facebusinessworld.com (2011). Retrieved June 28, 2013 from http://facebusinessworld.com/about/facebook-like/button-uses-for-business/
Hamburger, E. (2012). Twitter’s Enhanced Profile Pages for Brands are a Big Waste of Money. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/twitters-enhanced-profile-pages-for-brands-are-a-big-waste-of-money-2012-2