The Many Social Media Platforms

Which Social Media Sites do I choose?

There are quite a few social media websites available on the Internet, which can be confusing if you're new to social media. Just as with any other group or service, each website is focused on a particular group or population. The primary function of any social media website is to exchange information, ideas, and connect with people with similar interests and skills. Even so, each website has its own unique emphasis.

Facebook, for example, connects individuals informally. Families and friends use Facebook to stay in touch, share news, information and ideas. There are more than one billion users, monthly. Facebook also is used by individual entrepreneurs promoting (usually) small businesses, or local events, while others use the website to heighten awareness of a vast spectrum of special interests and needs. Since people are busy promoting themselves, it's also a good place to look for people who do, know, or have what you need.

LinkedIn is very much like Facebook in that it's a platform for sharing information and ideas, connect with new people and services, but on a professional level. Professionals showcase their experience and areas of expertise, and post what they are interested in doing. A LinkedIn-page is considered absolutely vital for those people who are seeking employment, or who wish to expand their current client base. It is superior for identifying new professional resources. If your company needs an expert in patent law, for example, LinkedIn would be excellent to consult for attorneys; unlike the local Bar Association, you will find information on patent attorneys all over the world (which may be especially useful for people in international manufacturing). LinkedIn also is a platform for sharing professional-level information with your peers -- new technologies, or trends in business and personnel management, or news of upcoming training events and trade shows.

Another popular social media provider is Twitter, which specializes in brief messages ('tweets') limited to 140 characters in length. Anyone can read a 'tweet', but in order to post a tweet, you must be a registered user. This is ideal for communicating with a very focused group -- your employees, for example, or a specific group of colleagues: 'Contract signed! Party tonight at 7 pm!', or 'stock has gone up 15 points in the last hour!'

Google Plus is a website that connects you to anything you create or produce. If you take photos with your mobile camera, those images will be quickly posted on Google Plus. If you've written a blog or professional article on the Internet, when Google Plus is set up, your article will automatically appear there. This gives you a much greater exposure, and allows many more people to see your work, but requires no particular effort on your part once the website has been set up.

What do you want to accomplish, and whom do you wish to reach?

Paul TN Chapman, Blog Manager, Reed Social Media Group