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Facebook has topped 1 billion users today. And we all know by now that social media platforms can be a very powerful channel for connecting with customers, raising brand awareness and for generating new business. So learn how to use them, and use them well! Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube or Pinterest, here are some useful suggestions of when and how to use each channel.
By Rebecca Griffiths - Thursday, 04 October 2012

Before engaging any of these social media channels, it is important to understand where your customers are and which channels they use (this will differ significantly between B2C and B2B). Also take time to also analyze how you would like to use the platform - do the channels’ features allow you to present your business in the way you would like? Another factor to consider is how you might use several channels to reach various target groups and for differing purposes.

Pinterest

Who’s there? Pinerest is a new-comer to the social media scene with just over 10 million unique users, but has been growing by over 400% month on month! Popular topics on Pinterest include fashion, interior design, crafts and gifts, which isn’t shocking to learn that most users are female.

Why should you use it? Pinterest provides an additional visual channel to communicate your product or brand. However, make sure that your product is a fit with the site – i.e. that you have a physical product tocommunicate that is of interest to the user population, or a collection of aspirational images that are associate to your brand. If you are selling electric sanding machines – this might not be the right channel.

Top tip: Keep it simple. Because being simple is part of the Pinterest philosophy, you will be more successful if you also remain simple. Create clear labels to your pins and always make sure to link back to your main website. You also want to avoid only pinning your own images, and try to re-pin interesting links and content that your audience will find useful.

Facebook

Who’s there? There were 1 billion monthly active users on Facebook in October 2012, and it’s likely that most of your core customers will be present on Facebook. Most Facebooker’s use the channel to connect with friends and other users, but also as a way to search for brands, events and groups they personally associate with.

Why should you use it? A small business should use Facebook to generate an authentic, two-way dialogue with customers and fans. This site is less about selling and more about interaction. It is also a good platform for posting interesting news, updates, events and videos, but be careful not to be heavy on self-promotion – customers won’t hear it! It is more about curating a Facebook page of interesting, associated content rather than direct promotion.

Top tip: Scheduled posts. Posting fresh, relevant content can make or break your Facebook page, so using scheduled Facebook posts will help you make sure to have regular postings. 

Twitter

Who’s there? In July 2012, there were over 500 million accounts, with 140 million active users in the US alone. Tweeters use the site for following brands, associations, personalities and conversations. Twitter is where they go to get news and updates first.

Why should you use it? This is a great micro-blogging tool and one of the fastest ways to post news and updates. Most importantly, it is a source to engage in meaningful conversations with customers by providing answers to their questions or advice and tips on your product. This site is particularly useful to “grow ears” and track conversations about your brand, helping you to pinpoint problems areas and refine your brand.

Top tip: Be credible. It is very easy to start tweeting mindless information to bump up your statistics, but instead you should focus on becoming an expert in your area. Only tweet relevant information that you believe customers would be interested in so you become a true source of insight.

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