For our final social media month blog post, we’ve decided to review Facebook and LinkedIn to determine which is more valuable to businesses. Facebook began in 2004 as a social networking tool for college students while LinkedIn began in 2003 as a business network for folks to exchange contact information and find potential business resources. You would think that LinkedIn would be the obvious choice for businesses to use, but that it not always the case. It all depends on your customers, company culture, and goals.
Key Facebook Value-Adds:
- Facebook IS social. You can post photos of yourself and your company and employees. Facebook gives you an opportunity to create a professional profile of your business. People can learn more about your business on a much more personal level. It can help build rapport with your customer base and build trust by reading comments from other “fans”. Facebook gives you a great opportunity to let down some barriers and help your business customer learn more about you. LinkedIn does not provide as much freedom for creative expression, within the business profile, as Facebook.
- Versatility. Facebook enables you to set up a personal profile, a professional profile, a business page or a fan page. You have all kinds of choices for putting yourself and your business in front of your customers. People like to feel part of a business. You can enable that by setting up a fan page for your business or for a unique product or service that you offer. LinkedIn only offers one type of profile.
- Facebook ads. For business Facebook gives you the opportunity to purchase pay-per-click ads to target unique niches much like Google Adwords. These ads are extremely cost effective because you only pay when someone clicks, and you can restrict how much you’ll pay each given month.
Key LinkedIn Value-Adds:
- Search Options. On LinkedIn if you have a significant number of followers, you can gain access to people in certain jobs, industries and/or groups that would otherwise be difficult to reach. Unlike Facebook which only allows you to search among friends. LinkedIn lets you search for companies, jobs and, answers to questions, as well as for people. For salespeople the ability to search companies and locate additional network connections within those companies gives you a competitive advantage over others not using LinkedIn to the fullest.
- Gain Expert Status or Credibility in your field. When LinkedIn began, the Question/Answer section of the site was a powerful place for you to showcase your knowledge. You could either post a question to the entire LinkedIn population or to segments of the network. You could answer questions other people posted. Many members answered questions and became experts in that area. Updated and expanded functions on LinkedIn enabled members to ask and answer questions within specific groups in which they are members. By becoming an active giver of information, you create credibility and trust with a wide range of people. Businesses who answer many questions within topics relevant to their industry create visibility and credibility for their business. This is one of the most powerful uses of LinkedIn.
- Recommendation function. LinkedIn gives you a great opportunity to showcase the value of your company’s products or services without advertising. Businesses who use the recommendation section wisely do just this. LinkedIn requires three recommendations to complete your profile. Many businesses display many more than three.
- Visibility of Blog posts. Using one of the blog posting applications included with LinkedIn, you can publish your blog posts directly to your LinkedIn profile and to any and all of your groups. This feature enables you to give your blog much broader visibility across the LinkedIn network. Instead of merely posting your blog to your profile, or on the status update as is the case with Facebook, you can post it to an unlimited number of groups within your profile.
There are many more differences between LinkedIn, Facebook and other social networks such as Ning, Xing, Yahoo Groups, and Google Groups. Anyone still use MySpace? Can you think of any others that I left out? We’d love to hear how you’re using social networks to help your business.