There are three primary social media outlets that businesses use. Here is a basic overview of each outlet:
- Facebook: Facebook’s modest beginning, as a simple networking tool for college
students (mainly designed to allow students to let their friends know where the parties were, and to look at the pictures from those parties afterward), belies its current status as a variable and integrated tool for business marketing. The primary method that businesses use to exploit Facebook’s marketing possibilities is by creating a “page” for their business (akin to having a website “on” Facebook itself—think of it as having an interactive yellow pages listing), which Facebook users can follow. Businesses can then use their page to market their products, offer deals, and build their brand.
- Twitter: Like Facebook, Twitter began as a social networking tool—a way for friends to keep in touch—but has blossomed into a full-scale business marketing tool. Twitter uses 140 character “tweets” (short messages) that appear in the homepage of all users who “follow” the account. Businesses can use these to release news, market their products, and direct attention to special offers and new content. Hashtags (a word or phrase preceded by a pound sign) can also be searched for on twitter, meaning that followers or users looking for info on that topic can be directed to your account by simply attaching a hashtag to particular concepts or ideas in your business’s tweets.
- Google+: Google+ is a relative newcomer but is quickly becoming an important tool for businesses looking to increase their presence in the world of social media marketing. Google+ has features that enable businesses to utilize its model in the ways Twitter and Facebook are used (product marketing, news release, the building of a “follower” base, etc.), but also has several facets these others do not. Google+’s “Promote” option allows you to customize your promotional content by creating different groupings of followers that you can then market differently to, and their “Measure” feature gives businesses an interactive measurement of how their Google+ page is being used. Google+ also offers a tutorial for businesses which gives advice on how best to use its features.
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