Small Business in a Big World

May 23, 2011

Should I Use Facebook or Twitter?

Filed under: small business marketing — itbiznez @ 6:00 am

Facebook Twitter[tweetmeme source=”LilBizBigWorld” only_single=false]While there are various social networking sites which many business owners are members of these days, there are two which stand out from the rest – Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook is still at the forefront of social media and Twitter proves to be a boon in the marketing efforts of small businesses in spite of the fact that you have to compress what you’d like to say into 140 characters.

But there’s still the question, “Which of the two social media sites are better?”

Both have advantages over the other but there are disadvantages to each as well:

FACEBOOK ADVANTAGES

  • It’s FREE.
  • Customer Acquisition.  There are 500 million active users on Facebook so you’re sure to find plenty of potential customers.
  • Female Baby Boomers are There.  It’s no secret that women aged 55 and over are the fastest growing demographic on Facebook.  And it’s also no secret that women between ages 55 and 64 are now the biggest spenders.
  • Facebook “Likes.”  Utilizing the Facebook “Like” button can improve your SEO value.
  • Facebook Fan Pages.   A Facebook Fan Page with your business name in the title can boost your search engine rank.  Give that a push by posting backlinks to your site and watch your SEO improve greatly over time.
  • Viral Capability.  Sharing information that can easily go viral with a lot of people is easy. Do it in one click as opposed to the time involved in creating and sending individual messages.
  • Contests Are A Hit.  Facebook and contests just seem to go together.  Word spreads quickly and participation tends to be much higher than it would be if the contest were run strictly from your blog or website.
  • Leverage And Build Your Brand.  Interacting with people through pages, groups, events, Facebook Places and even community pages gives you more visibility and helps you carve out an image that builds trust and transmits that you’re an authority.
  • Search locally. The search feature allows businesses to connect to potential customers that are within their area and close to home.

FACEBOOK DISADVANTAGES

  • Facebook doesn’t necessarily believe in privacy.  It’s no secret that Facebook Founder, Mark Zuckerberg, doesn’t value your privacy as much as you do.  In addition, two of the biggest data collection giants have taken to battling it out.  Facebook recently admitted to hiring a PR Firm to badmouth Google and Google struck back by outing Facebook for requiring users to share data on a service that won’t let you get data out.  In a nutshell, these two giants are fighting tooth and nail for tracking capabilities and your private data.
  • Applications require a lot of information.  Information that you may normally not want to divulge.  Facebook has announced its plans to allow third-party applications to request your telephone number and address.
  • Be very careful of what you share.  We’ve all heard about the teacher who posted some photos of herself on vacation enjoying a glass of wine and visiting the Guinness Brewery in Europe  – and lost her job because of it, right?  And don’t think that privacy settings will save you here.  Her profile and pictures were private and she didn’t accept students or strangers as friends and still lost her job.
  • There isn’t any guidance for beginners.  Learning how to use Facebook isn’t easy as they provide no real guidance for new members.  You’ll do better Googling the term “how to use Facebook.”
  • People spy.  Curiosity is human nature.  Your friends, business associates, exes, and family members may be able to snoop around and know what is happening in your life at all times.
  • Newsfeeds are generated from every single activity.  Nothing is really private on Facebook.  You will get unwanted newsfeeds generated from every single activity that your friends and business associates perform.  In turn, they too will be notified about every single activity that you perform as well.
  • People can tag you in photos.  This can include photos that you may not want everyone to see.  A bad hair day, an unflattering photo, a compromising situation.  You can easily remove the tag, but it may be too late, others may have already viewed the image.
  • There’s a fine line.  Because Facebook can be a mixture of both friends and business associates, always remember that there’s a fine line between marketing and offending.  If you’re marketing to your family and friends daily, eventually they may take offense.  And if you’re posting about a wild weekend you just had with friends, you may offend business associates and hurt your reputation.  Walk the line carefully.
  • Deleting a Facebook Group isn’t easy.  If you’ve created one and you decide to delete it, this will require you to manually delete each member of the group.  In addition, a second click is required to “confirm” your deletion.  So if you have a group with 700 members, be prepared to make some 1,400 clicks to delete all members.  In otherwords, it will require you to set aside a couple of hours just to close your Facebook group.  And if you have any unanswered invites, you won’t be able to delete the group until the individual has answered the invite in some manner.  If the individual doesn’t respond, you’re out of luck.
  • You can only share information with friends.  In order to market your business, you have to make “Friends” to market it to first.
  • You have little to no control regarding what other people post. If your best friend Suzy posts on your wall, “What a great party that was!  I found your shoes in the bushes outside my front porch.”  You can delete the post, but only after many other people have already seen it.
  • Spammers abound.  Some of these individuals may not realize that they’re spamming and may come onto your profile and begin posting links to their sites, blog posts, etc. and the only thing you can do is manually delete it.

TWITTER ADVANTAGES

  • It’s FREE.
  • Breaking news tends to appear on Twitter first.  Take, for example, the news about Osama bin Laden.  The news first broke on Twitter by a neighbor of the Bin Laden complex.  A record was also set . . . at one point, there were approximately 3,440 Tweets per second about the episode.
  • Your content can be seen by more people.  When you tweet, a friend of a friend can click thru and see you and your tweets.
  • Twitter is a great tool for opinion polling.  You want to be aware of what people want and need and how your business can cater to them.
  • Twitter outperforms RSS feeds. Not all your customers’ may sign up for RSS feeds from your site.  But on Twitter, there are instant news deliveries, which keep your customers updated with all your products, services and any changes you may make.
  • Twitter can be automated.  You can schedule your Tweets in advance using third-party services like HootSuite.  Doing this allows you to keep an active Twitter presence with less effort and less time spent.
  • You can present and participate in group chats.  Using the hashtag feature, special events and large group chats can take place in real-time.
  • Unique profile templates can be used.  You can brand yourself and your business by customizing your Twitter template, which can be created via HTML mode or purchased via a third-party design service such as Social Identities.

TWITTER DISADVANTAGES

  • Your Tweets can get buried real fast. Since users receive real-time updates, your tweets may get buried behind others’ quite fast and people generally do not have the time to browse over old (in this case, anything beyond 5 minutes) tweets.
  • Some Tweet about themselves too often.  You will come across those who regularly Tweet about themselves, their business, what they had for breakfast . . . you get the idea.  And Tweeting too often to promote your own site and business may be indicators to some people that you are a spammer.
  • You have to speak concisely. You must compress what you want to say in 140 characters or less.
  • Spammers abound.  Because it’s easy to spam people on Twitter, you may see an abundance of it and you’ll need to manually filter your own lists to get rid of them.
  • It can become addictive.  It’s tempting to engage in non-business related conversations or get caught up browsing interesting links from Tweets by those you follow.

Upon first glance, it appears there may be more disadvantages to Facebook than Twitter, which is due to Facebook’s privacy issues – which Twitter does not have.  Twitter and Facebook can only be effective social media tools if you properly use them. Keeping track of your market, your industry, your business, and being professional will take you a long way – whether you decide to choose one or use both of them.

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