This month’s Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly column: Choosing the right social media tools: a short, oversimplified guide

Every month, I write about social media for the Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly. My August column is an admittedly oversimplified look at the main benefits of each of the most popular social media tools.

Choosing the right social media tools: a short, oversimplified guide

One of the questions I’m asked most frequently is, “What social media tools should I use?” This is an excellent question since the possibilities can be somewhat overwhelming and the wisdom you’ll find via a Google search can be somewhat contradictory.

The truth is there’s no blueprint for using social media effectively. What works for one business won’t necessarily work for another, even within the same industry. It’s also dangerous to make too many assumptions about what’s likely to work without a detailed strategy that considers—among other things—objectives, audience, and resources. However, each social media tool has qualities that make it more effective for some businesses and less effective for others. With that in mind, here’s a quick, albeit oversimplified, cheat sheet that may help you determine which tools are likely to be worth considering. You’ll want to dig a little more deeply before investing any resources, but this is a good place to start.

Facebook works best for…

  • Business-to-consumer companies
  • Companies with raving fans—people who love what they do
  • Those with the capacity to respond to questions quickly on an ongoing basis

LinkedIn works best for…

  • Business-to-business companies
  • Knowledge workers and others whose product/service is intangible
  • Those who rely upon referrals or one-to-one relationships with other professionals

Twitter works best for…

  • Businesses with an ongoing need to share information that has a short shelf life (breaking news or short-term discounts, for example)
  • Organizations with the capacity to respond to questions or engage in short two-way conversations multiple times each day
  • Those who have good content (a blog, YouTube videos, etc.) to share on an ongoing basis

Pinterest works best for…

  • Retail-oriented business-to-consumer entities
  • Companies with a product that is predominantly visual
  • Businesses that target women

Blogs work best for…

  • Companies who have the capacity and talent to tell their story in writing
  • Businesses that have subject matter experts who can give advice that help the audience solve problems
  • Those primarily interested in regularly disseminating good information as opposed to engaging in a dialogue with the audience

YouTube and other online video portals work best for…

  • Companies who have the capacity and talent to tell their story using video
  • Companies with a product that is predominantly visual
  • Those primarily interested in disseminating good information as opposed to engaging in a dialogue with the audience

Discussion boards work best for…

  • Companies whose customers ask questions of them frequently—those, for example, with call centers, helplines, or well-used website comment forms
  • Companies with very limited resources who nevertheless want to be accessible to their customers
  • Businesses that are primarily interested in fielding questions from customers

It’s important to note that these are not the only options you have—only the most popular. In addition, there’s no one right answer for any business, and the best choice is often deploying multiple tools in an integrated way. Finally, this is obviously a somewhat oversimplified way of looking at social media: you’ll want to consider more than just what’s on the surface. However, if you’re looking to take a strategic approach to social media instead of just diving in, considering these options objectively—with an eye toward your strengths and weaknesses—is a worthwhile starting point. If you’re honest with yourself, and if you avoid preconceived notions about what you’ve heard from others, you’ll begin to see what’s most likely to work for you.

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One Response to This month’s Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly column: Choosing the right social media tools: a short, oversimplified guide

  1. Tammy Davis says:

    Terrific breakdown, Anthony! This is a great rule of thumb for anyone trying to navigate these methods of communication.

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