Most of the bulk of business recommendations and client hype come from personal connections and face-to-face networking so, it may seem foolish to spend any resources online. However, many companies are finding a perfect balance between networking in person and well maintained social media accounts, showing online tools work best to cement relationships, rather than create them. For smaller businesses the top three most effective (and free) of these platforms are Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google Plus Local. Here are the differences between these networks and the importance for small businesses to have accounts on all three.
As of September 2013, Facebook claimed 1.26 billion users and continues to grow daily, making the once collegiate networking site the most populated free platform for businesses and personal lives alike. Facebook for Businesses claims a four step approach involving: building a concise and appealing business page, AdLinks (a paid for Facebook advertising service that promotes a page to users with similar interests), regularly posting of content, and encouraging customer engagement will provide businesses with a boost of customer attention. Because Facebook users enjoy sharing pictures, articles, and videos with their friends, businesses have a great opportunity to do the same. By regularly posting pictures and messages from business events or networking functions, a company will have a greater chance of being “Liked” or re-posted onto a pleased customer’s wall. Facebook for Businesses stresses that “when you have a strong presence on Facebook, your business is part of these conversations and has access to the most powerful kind of word-of-mouth marketing — recommendations between friends.”
Launched in 2003 LinkedIn jumped on the wave of social networking technology and applied it to the business world. In the Harvard Business Review article “Should I Accept That LinkedIn Invitation” Alexandra Samuel, Vice-President of Social Media at Vision Critical describes LinkedIn as an “introduction machine: an address book in which all the entries can see and connect with another, to create a mini-network with you and the things you share at the hub.” LinkedIn can operate as a site that broadcasts a company and its employees, but when used most efficiently LinkedIn will serve as an important line of communication between professionals in and out of an industry. And unlike Facebook and Google+, LinkedIn has several features that connect employers and job applicants, giving those hiring a fuller picture of a candidate’s business history, social connections, and endorsements within the industry
Google + serves as an interesting hybrid of various social networks and the classic Google Search site. By creating a Google+ page businesses not only have a new place to reach out to clients, but they also add to what prospective clients see when Googling a business. An even more helpful feature under the Google+ home tab is the “Local Business or Place” category. This requires the extra step of filling out additional location information and provides customers the opportunity to rate the business. Similar to Yelp, the Local feature allows customers to connect with a business location and read reviews from their friends and family. What is best about Google+ Local is the more positive reviews a company has, the more likely it will be recommended at the top of someone’s Google+ Local page.
The vast differences within large industries and niche small businesses make it near impossible to give specific advice on internet marketing. And although nothing can beat networking in person, there will be times when an internet presence does affect business. By taking advantage of free services like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+, and maintaining an active face-to-face networking calendar, a business is providing possible leads and clients even more opportunities to interact which, for a free service, is priceless.
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Original Source: https://www.networkingaustin.com/networking-technology/the-best-social-networks-for-your-small-business