August 21, 2011

The Social Media Conundrum: Personal vs. Business

In any given day, I receive dozens of questions about social media.

Here are answers to four questions I’ve been asked in the last few weeks:

Question #1:

I was having a conversation with someone today about whether or not it’s important to acquire friends and likes or if having likes only is most effective.

Answer #1:  

First, having a "friend" on your personal Facebook page and having a "like" on your fan page are different things. Content appears the same on the news feed, whether you are a friend or a fan ("like").  However your Facebook page is for personal friending and sharing. The fan page is for business-related activity. Many people can be both a friend and a fan; however you want to keep the content separate. Business messages should come from the fan page and personal messages should come from the personal Facebook account.

In terms of acquiring friends and likes: It depends on what you are trying to achieve. If you want to promote business ventures, you will want more fans and quality fans not just people clicking the like button. If you want to establish more personal friends, you will want more Facebook friends. Where it is tricky: When you meet people, you will "friend" them online in hopes that they will then "like" your fan page so it's two-tiered. On my business card, I offer a direct link to my fan page so folks can "like" it and I only request "friends" if I want to establish correspondence beyond just business or if I want to get to know them as a  person.

All that being said, you mention the word effective to describe your efforts so I am assuming you want to acquire business contacts. In this case, you may want both friends and likes, but most importantly, you want likes to your page so you can offer them business and brand-related material.

Question #2:

Should I be using Google+ to grow my business?

Answer #2:

I am a big proponent of ‘waiting this one out.’ Currently, Google+ does not offer business pages. However, I have to say that the statistics don’t lie. With 25 million users in just four weeks, Google+ seems be gaining steam.  Two great leaders in the industry, Mari Smith and Ken Mueller have already taken to the medium and for good reason. In Mari’s post, What’s So Exciting About Google+, she recommends that we include Google+ when managing and monitoring the reputation of a business and that it’s important to get a head start. She even foreshadowed to an upcoming blog post entitled, Don’t Wait For Google+ Business Profiles – 7 Actions to Do Now.  In a recent post entitled, Why Isn’t Your Business on Google+, Ken makes a great point: “You ARE your business.”  He means that we are all ‘people’ behind the brand, which is the transparency many communicate on social media. Just because we aren’t XYZ Company, doesn’t mean we can’t represent a business on Google+. Great insight, Ken.

Question #3:

Can you offer some successful LinkedIn strategies, including engaging our network?

Answer #3:

I was planning to write my entire blog on LinkedIn this week. However, Catherine Lockey’s ears must have been ringing when I was brainstorming the topic because she hit the nail on the head with her post, How Does LinkedIn Grow Your Business. She mentions some business no-brainers such as the SEO-factor of LinkedIn and posting to your newsfeed as well as a few ideas you might not have thought about such as sharing blog posts to your groups and utilizing LinkedIn apps.

I thought I would share a few more strategies for maximizing your LinkedIn presence.

1. Use the Answers tool. Want to be seen as an industry resource? Try answering questions related to your specific area of expertise. To access, simply click the “More” button followed by the “Answers” tab. LinkedIn will even recommend categories for you to start answering a few questions. On the right-hand side, you can browse the different topic areas and choose the categories that best suit your industry.

2. Actively participate in groups. Catherine touched on this in her post, as well. The groups can be a great resource for connecting with others and offering value to other members. I highly recommend joining groups that involve your target audience for two reasons: you can understand their needs and you can offer a solutions!

3. Use the Advanced Search to target your audience.  You can search for exactly who you are looking for, by using this tool. For specific instructions, click here.

4. Engage! Ask open-ended questions, respond to others’ posts and questions, and set time aside to actively participate in group activity. Like anything else, you get out of it what you put into it.

Question #4:

I just can’t bring myself to enjoy social networking. How to I make it feel less like ‘work?'

Answer #4:

The person who asked me this question enjoys fireside chats until 2:30 in the morning. She prefers the “human connection.” I suggested Twitter chats and Google+ hangouts where she can get real-time interaction that won’t seem like work.

This goes for anyone. If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and walks like a duck… it’s probably a duck. If social networking is ‘work’ to you then others will sense that, too. It’s important to find a medium or level of involvement you enjoy and stick to it.  You don’t have to do it all. Simply do what you enjoy.

How do you find enjoyment in social networking? What other social media questions can I answer?

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