While there are many tools available for social media marketing and social networking, the biggies that emerge are Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. While it may be tempting to view these tools as all pretty much the same thing, they have distinct differences, and as a direct sales professional, it is important to understand this difference.
First, a definition. Social networking tools enable people to communicate with one another online. People can set up profiles, find others with similar interests, and then build relationships. As a direct sales professional, a great profile can be the key to that successful first impression that leads to a long-term relationship and prospects for your business.
But too often, I see people treating these tools as if they are all the same, and I think this is a mistake. Tools such as TweetDeck and ping.fm exacerbate this problem, allowing people to update various tools with the same status update, all at once. The problem with this approach is that different tools attract different kinds of people, and so you should consider using these tools for very different purposes, especially when you begin your foray into social networking and social media marketing.
For example, Facebook is an EXCELLENT tool for connecting or reconnecting with family and friends, and developing deeper relationships that are further strengthened by face to face meetings. Facebook’s unique ability to suggest friends based on your information makes it easy to connect with people you haven’t spoken with in a long time. And that, along with Facebook Pages, gives you a great platform to make your business more visible.
Compare that with Twitter, which is primarily for meeting NEW people. I find that most people that use Twitter are business people. This is a much better tool for finding people interested in joint ventures, business arrangements, and information (preferably free.) People here have their own language, with # and @ symbols that confuse the heck out of people that don’t use Twitter. So when people automatically import their Twitter status update into Facebook, they’ve already lost half their audience. And the people that do understand your secret code have already seen that status update in Twitter…they don’t need to see it in Facebook too.
LinkedIn is comprised mainly of professionals supporting one another in business. It’s a great tool for finding potential business builders to join your direct sales team. But if you’re pushing your products here, you’re not likely to find much success. You’ll have greater success here by interacting in the groups and providing value to others.
By mindfully using status updates and other interactions that fit the social networking tool and audience that you’re targeting, you’ll experience more success than if you try to use a one size fits all approach. And that’s why it’s so important to clearly understand your social media goals and your targeted niche market before selecting the social networking tools you’ll use.
What do you think? What tools do you use, and how do you use them? What kind of success have you experienced? I would love to hear your thoughts below!