You know you should listen to your customers and you are aware that social media has been the new way for people to express their opinions about products and services. Social networks seem to be popping up almost daily. Here’s the major ones you need to know about. But what are the platforms available and what are the differences between each one of them?
Here is a quick guide to help you understand the major social networks
What it is: It is the most popular social network with over 800 million users. People usually build profiles to keep in touch with family and friends. Lately it has been used by businesses as a marketing tool. On Facebook people can send and receive messages, chat online, post pictures and share links and videos. They can also “like” a page — there are six types of pages: local businesses, companies, products, artists, entertainment and community. Facebook offers many options to interact such as the Wall, photo albums, comments space and the “like” button, where people click if they like the comment or post. If users don’t like something or someone, they have the option of blocking the person’s updates or deleting the person from their profile.
What do you need to know: Facebook is a great way to generate customer loyalty and there are many ways to do it. But because it’s a very personal network, people don’t appreciate when businesses overload their pages with information or un-wanted promotions and they usually block the pages if that happens. The best way to increase interaction is by sharing useful content, asking customers’ opinions and giving quick answers—facebook users really expect you to reply A.S.A.P. In other words, show you care about them and they’ll care about you.
Vocabulary you need to know: Wall—page where people post and receive comments; NewsFeed—page where Facebook shows the users what is going on with friends and pages they like. It shows popular posts first and then most recent ones.
What it is: It is a platform that shows real-time updates. On Twitter you can choose which updates you want to see and you can also use the search engine to look up other people’s updates on a specific subject. Businesses can use Twitter to inform about their products and services and to see what people are saying about them. Twitter was created in 2006 as a texting program and grew to be the only real-time information platform in the world.
What do you need to know: Twitter is a great way to spread the word about your business. People sign up for it to get news before anyone else – so make sure you post there first. Many times, news was on Twitter before it appeared on big media channels such as CNN. Twitter updates can be only 140 characters long.
Vocabulary you need to know: Twitter has a very particular vocabulary. Users are called Tweeters and are divided in two categories: Followers—people that see your updates, and Following—people that you choose to see updates from. Also, the updates—or the things you write—are called tweets.
What it is: It is the first location based platform for mobile devices (smart phones, iPods, iPads). It is not as popular as Facebook and Twitter but it has been growing fast. People use it to “check-in” at places and to show their friends where they are. They can also leave comments and reviews about the place they are at.
What do you need to know: Foursquare offers many tools to attract customers to your venue and it is a great opportunity for a business to grow loyalty and to get new customers. Facebook has a similar feature (Facebook Places) but FourSquare lets customers write reviews right away and search for places nearby. Businesses can use FourSquare to give away coupons, prizes and virtual badges, making the whole experience feel like a fun game. The platform offers a dashboard (a data report) where you can see when and how many people went to your place.
What it is: Websites that provide information about a business, including location, hours of operations, amenities and customer reviews. Each website has different features but they are all very similar in content.
What do you need to know: Review websites are really important for businesses. Google revealed that 97% of customers look online for a new place to go. And they are influenced by other people’s opinion. So make sure you monitor every website and respond to each bad review you get with an explanation. Customers really appreciate when a business’ owner takes the time to do it.
What it is: It is the newer social network out there. It’s still in beta phase (a testing period) but it promises wonders. There has been a lot of talk about Google’s new platform but the network was opened to the general public on late September/2011. It is very similar to Facebook but it’s evolved around Google tools.
What do you need to know: Nothing yet. Google+ just launched its Business pages and while big brands and professionals are crazy about it, customers are not there yet. Keep one eye on it too. It could become a powerful network once it incorporates all Google services.