Facebook or Twitter? Vyki Alleman breaks down the social network dilemma for business

Facebook or Twitter? Vyki Alleman breaks down the social network dilemma for business

Editor’s Note: Business Journal contributor Vyki Alleman launched her business with this statement: “Your business is your dream. Is your dream getting the exposure it deserves? Rockit Multimedia is a new marketing company with new ideas. We specialize in Web design, social media marketing, video production and search engine optimization.” In her writing for this newspaper and on her blog at www.rockitmultimedia.com, she advises readers on a variety of issues. Starting this month, we are adding the feature “Ask Vyki” to formalize the Q&A. Readers are invited to submit questions to the Business Journal or to Rockit Multimedia.

When you had BizTech, your weekly radio show, you advised listeners on how to use social media in their businesses. Today we hear almost as much about Twitter as we do Facebook. For a business, what are the advantages and disadvantages of each? Also, what are the other social media sites that can help a business grow?

Facebook and Twitter are two very different social networks; both are useful for businesses in different ways.

Facebook is useful for increasing your visibility and reach due to the millions of users that browse Facebook daily. When you post relevant and engaging content to your business page, “fans” have the ability to share that content with others. Think word-of-mouth marketing on steroids. Businesses can use Facebook as a medium to build their brand identity and personality. When managing your Facebook page, sharing tips, advice, answering questions and sharing other relevant information can build you and your brand’s reputation as a leader in your field. Social networking is about building connections and relationships with your customers; constantly interacting and engaging with your fans can guarantee your business’s longevity and success.

What many people don’t realize is that you don’t own your content on Facebook — Facebook owns it. The popular social network has the authority to change its features at any time (like the recent Timeline rollout). That’s why it’s important to have a wide online presence on different social networks, as well as a Web site and/or blog on which you own the content, and can customize to your liking.

Another thing that most business owners don’t know is that building a Facebook business page almost always requires a large investment of time and sometimes even money. Contrary to popular belief, Facebook marketing is not a free advertising medium. Time equals money. If you think that posting to your business page once a month or even once a week is sufficient, you’re wrong.

It is my experience that most businesses think that Twitter is equal to a noisy crowd of concertgoers instead of a social networking cocktail party. What they don’t take the time to research is that Twitter could be easily used to create cost effective campaigns with viral results. Or that Twitter has the power to drive traffic to their Web site, blog and other social networks. The purpose of Twitter is to share information and bring people together. One of my personal favorite aspects of Twitter is that you can share more content more often, and won’t be looked down upon for sharing your own content or tweeting 20 to 40 times a day, as long as the content is useful and engaging.

Some large brands such as Xbox and Comcast use Twitter for customer service, allowing customers to Tweet their questions or issues directly to the brand and replying to them accordingly.

Twitter also comes with its downsides. The network is a cesspool for spammers. You will most likely have to regularly clean up your lists to weed them out. Also, if you run a Twitter campaign the wrong way, it could create negative results for your business. I suggest thoroughly researching the social network’s uses for businesses and even watch what your competitors are doing and what’s working for them.

Other social networks that are useful for business include:

Youtube

Youtube is the popular social video site known for its viral videos. If you have interesting, engaging, or even entertaining video content, this is the place to share it.

Tumblr

Tumblr is a great place to share mini-blogs if you’re in the fashion or restaurant industry.

Google+

Google plus is a new social network. Its biggest advantage is that it can help SEO (search engine optimization) your content more than any other Web site, because Google owns it.

Pinterest

Pinterest is a relatively new but also extremely popular social network or “pinboard” and is an excellent medium for retail business, photographers and professional bloggers. n

In a previous Business Journal story, you talked about the difference between personal and business Facebook pages. What can a business do if they started on Facebook with a personal page and now have 3,000 friends? Are they subject to being shut down without notice by Facebook? How can they convert their friends to fans?

Since the rollout of Facebook Timeline for business pages and the long awaited messaging feature (which allows your fans to contact you via private message) there is really no reason to have a personal account instead of a business page. Business pages are made and tailored specifically for businesses. Using a personal account for business is against Facebook guidelines, and they can and will delete you if they find out.If you have a personal page with 3,000 “friends,” you probably don’t want to continue to risk deletion. You’re in luck; there is a way to convert a personal profile to a Facebook business page by going to www.facebook.com/pages/create.php?migrate and following the steps. If you need step by step instructions, visit my blog at blog.rockitmultimedia.com and find the post “Facebook for Business Tips: Profiles vs. Pages for Business.” n

I recently heard the hosts of a sports talk show on a Houston radio station complaining about the changes in Facebook, which is an important part of their broadcast. Can you walk us through these changes?

As mentioned earlier, we don’t own Facebook and we don’t pay to use it. Therefore, they are free to make changes at they please. Software and applications are upgraded and new versions come out all the time. Why should Facebook be any different? The answer is that most people are afraid of change. The recent upgrade of Facebook business pages is actually revolutionizing the way we use Facebook for business.

Here is a brief overview of the changes and how they will help businesses.

1. The new cover photo: Even though you cannot put promotional verbiage or calls to action on the cover photo, it’s is a great space for branding and is the first thing a fan sees when visiting your business page. The spot is 851 x 315 pixels.

2. Messaging feature: Once you convert to the new Timeline for business pages, you will be able to receive messages from your fans as well as reply to those messages.

3. Larger posts and the ability to add milestones, highlights, pin posts to the top of the page for up to seven days, and change the dates of posts.

4. Custom tabs have been moved to the top of your page, but you can only have four visible at a time. You have the ability to rearrange tabs and even upload custom images as icons. You can no longer set up a default tab, but you still have the ability to link directly to a “Welcome” page requesting that visitors “like” your page. Facebook ads are a good way to do this.

5. New administrator panel that is constantly visible to admins.

6. The ability to assign duties and tasks to different administrators.

7. Friend Activity: When someone first visits a page, they may see their friends’ most recent posts highlighted on your page’s wall.

8. Facebook offers: If you remember and miss Facebook’s Deals feature, you’ll like this. It’s only available to a few pages right now but should be coming to all business pages soon. This feature gives you the ability to offer discounts and coupons to your fans and gives them the ability to share it with their friends, who can then also claim the offer.

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