Choosing The Right Social Network For You

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So, exactly how many social networks are there? Ok, I’ll admit there is no shortage of options when it comes to choosing a social network. While new social networks pop-up daily, there still remains a handful of major players.

social networkLet’s review them:

Facebook still holds the title as The Big Kid On The Block with over 1 Billion users.

The texting inspired network, Twitter is over 140 Million user strong, communicating in 140 characters or less.

With over 166 Million users, LinkedIn is a great way to build your professional contacts while sharing career highlights and accomplishments.

While kids from an Ivy League school did not start Google+ it was started by the world’s largest search engine, Google.

Also owned by Google, YouTube serves as the second largest search engine it actual classifies itself as a social network with 490 Million users.

Pinterest is a highly visual network that uses virtual pin boards to share interests, projects and pictures with their 20 Million users.

The location-based social network Foursquare has 20 million users checking-in and sharing their activity with friends.

Instagram currently holds the title as media darling; the mobile-based picture-sharing network with over 80 Million registered users is a rising star especially among young adults.

Tumblr is a little bit of everything rolled into one, this combination of text, image, video and audio content heavy blogging network has more than 50 Million users.

How do you know which one is right for you?

I am often asked by clients which social network should they be on? As any good strategist should tell you, that depends on your goals. By the way, who said you should limit yourself to JUST one?

Below are questions you should ask yourself before choosing a social network.

  1. What is your desired goal?
  2. How comfortable are you with sharing?
  3. Do you blog or have interest in blogging?
  4. Does your employer use social media?
  5. Are you looking for new career opportunities?
  6. Do you have a product or service to promote?
  7. Do you have a specific niche or target audience you desire to communicate with?
  8. Is your interest personal or professional?
  9. Do you enjoy people and have an interest in learning and growing as a person?
  10. And, are you ready to have lots of fun?
Ready to move forward with finding the right social network for you?

Professionally, if you are a small business owner then check out this post that shares thoughts from Steamfeed authors on tips to getting started.

Some thoughts on how to narrow down the choices for personal use:

  1. If you are a recent graduate, looking for your first job, a new job or wanting to change careers, I highly recommend LinkedIn.
  2. If you want to reconnect with old friends, family or classmates then Facebook might be the social network for you.
  3. If you enjoy crafts, home projects, recipes and you prefer pictures to words then I’d say go with Pinterest.
  4. If you fancy yourself as an amateur photographer, enjoy playing with camera filters and your smartphone is never more than 3 feet from you, you are all about Instagram.
  5. Do you enjoy creating content and have an interest in blogging but you have not yet committed to a style, take Tumblr out for a spin.
  6. Do you work for Google, use Gmail or are you passionate about technology? Google+ may be right up your ally.
  7. Do you like sharing your movement around town, are into checking-in and recording your whereabouts? Give Foursquare a shot.
  8. If you are into making, watching or sharing videos then you need to check out Youtube.
  9. If you can communicate in 140 characters or less, like meeting people with similar interest and you have content to share then you my friend need to head over to Twitter.

As an advocate for social media, my first goal is to make clients comfortable with the medium. I want my clients to value the benefits social networks offer both individuals and businesses.  I can only encourage usage so much; at some point you either love it or leave it. Here’s to you finding the right network(s).

What is your favorite social network and why do you love it so? Please leave a comment below!

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David Schwartz
David is a Brand Strategist focused on building relevant brands, while creating valuable consumer relationships to promote engagement. By utilizing the popularity of digital and mobile media, along with the social web he helps companies understand the power of controlling their content. David started his career working for MTV in New York, he then proceeded to Atlanta to work with the likes of Coca-Cola, Chick-fil-A and the Home Depot. From his time working with companies of all sizes he has learned that a strong brand is the key to long term success by turning customers into brand advocates. Now living in Nashville with his wife and two children, David works with companies of all sizes teaching and consulting on best practices for building a brand in the digital age.
David Schwartz

@brand_education

Helping Brands transition to a digital world by building a foundation w/Social Media & Blogging. Your Brand isn't going anywhere, neither is the web. @1ad_dad
Find the best seat in every #restaurant http://t.co/5bg0TKPbw6 - 3 hours ago
David Schwartz
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  1. Excellent explanation of each platform David. It's important to know the limits of each network and which social choose the on that works best in accordance to your goals.

    The worse thing you can do is feel the need to be on every social media platform "just because".

    Also think about the amount of resource aka time and $$ you are willing to invest in the platforms you choose – don't spread yourself too thin!

    Another good question to ask when choosing the right social network is:

    "Which social network does the majority of my audience spend most of their time online on?"

    Do some research on your target demographic and their online habits, you'd be surprised by the amount of articles and studies they are on that topic.

    Think about the things wisely. Then choose.

    Good luck!

  2. Kittie Walker says:

    I love Google+ because of the amazing conversation that you become part of. It is a lot less superficial than some of the other networks. However, I don't spend a huge amount of time there because that is not where the audience for my business resides.

    As a business person there are plenty of tasks that we may or may not enjoy – bookkeeping, public speaking, calling customers, chasing payments and so on, but for the good of your business you have to suck it up or delegate it!

    It's the same for social networking – in most instances you need to incorporate some, to varying degrees, into your marketing plan to raise awareness for your brand and to extend your reach. Choosing social networks to market your business through and choosing them for personal reasons should be kept strictly separate. Yes it's great if you can enjoy the process (not too much or you end up spending all your time there), but you don't have to!

    • Excellent points Kittie, very true that from a marketing initiative you need to have a presence where you audience is. Even if it is not a network you might enjoy personally.

  3. Good reveal of the spectrum of social media David. It so easy for many to rush in a grab a channel and hope, pray it tunes in their message and attracts a new customer. Most of whom don’t necessarily want to have a relationship with every consumer product. A business owner needs think about consumers and why they would have a relationship with their brand. Social media channels are certainly much more about your brand as media than just providing sales information online… "Think about the things wisely. Then choose." GoodJob!

  4. Thanks Randy, I like what you said about fostering a relationship between your brand and it's consumers. Social is no doubt an wonderfully effective medium for that.

  5. I'm starting to spend some time on slideshare after reading a book by Todd Wheatland. I think if you're in the b2b business slidesahre is a must!

  6. Slideshare does have great merit in the business 2 business world. Another great sharing platform to showcase your expertise. Thanks Ian, good suggestion.

  7. Great post David, and as a good digital junkie, of course I use every platform mentioned. LOL

    • Thanks Gerry. I am fairly active on 9 of the 10 networks, Tumblr being the one that I have yet to fully jump into. I do kick the tires on pretty much every new network that pops-up. Just to see the benefits and values of each, you never know which one will be right for clients. Or… the next great thing.

  8. Like Kittie, I'm a big Google+ fan for the reasons she gives plus …
    I do enjoy it personally, but you're right in that most people are marketing over at Facebook & Twitter. (Where I'm fairly active as well.)
    One of the big differentiators for G+ is that, unlike other platforms, is a business app; video conferencing and collaborating on Hangouts, sharing docs, giving webinars and of course, networking.

    Since the number one occupation listed on Google+ is students (remember where Facebook started), I'd like to add to your list that..
    If you have meetings, give tutorials, consult with small groups and like to share information visually, head over to Google+.

  9. Excellent points Ray. I have a love/hate relationship with G+, I love some of the options from hangouts, +1 and author badges but I just wish more people used it. Granted, if I spent more time there I might find better engagement. I guess my one hesitation in investing more time/resource into G+ is that I am not sold that it will make it long-term.

    As far as the number 1 occupation, I still feel that is misleading since I bet a large majority of those students have a G+ profile because they set-up a free gmail account. I know countless people IRL that I added in a circle and they have never been on G+, they only have an account because of gmail or Android.

    Personally I find great value in G+ based solely its impact on search. I usually say that it is better to play in Google's sandbox then it is to fight them.

    Great stuff Ray, thanks.

  10. I love the design and feel of Google+ but to be honest I have not yet found myself heading to it everyday like I do Facebook. I also find that, in terms of business, I get a much better type of visitor from Facebook than I do Twitter. I have yet to really get involved with Pinterest though it is on my to do list.

  11. Thanks for sharing you comment, Izzy. You raise a very important point, when it comes to business no matter which social network you choose, make sure it's where your target audience hangs out. With personal time, go where you get the most and just enjoy yourself.

    One additional thought, I wrote a post a few weeks ago on Steamfeed talking about Cross-Promoting, be sure to invite your active Facebook audience to visit you on G+, Twitter or Pinterest once you get involved.
    http://www.steamfeed.com/should-i-be-cross-promot

  12. ideagirlmedia says:

    David,

    Great breakdown of networks and do's & why's! A resource for many, as I'll be recommending this post.

    I want to like Google+, and really I should. But I'm just not there yet. Soon…

    Platforms I think are currently under-hyped: Foursquare & SlideShare.

    Instagram, while people think it's new, it's been around for awhile, we're just now getting a handle on it. This, and Pinterest will make our other social networking more interesting.

    Thanks for sharing your insights,

    ~Keri

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