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6/19/2012
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5 Social Networks To Achieve 10 Business Tasks

We examine several popular social networks to determine which is best for each of 10 business tasks, from engaging customers to hiring new employees.
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Thinking about using Facebook and other social networks to boost business? It's not enough to post everything on every platform. In fact, such a strategy could backfire. It's best to examine what each platform does best and align your organization's needs accordingly.

First, determine the platforms your customers and business partners are spending the most time on--and what they're doing on those sites. If you find that your business partners spend lots of time on Facebook--but use it mostly to stay in touch with close, personal friends--it might not be the best venue for a B2B effort. Also, keep in mind that certain social networking platforms tend to be better than others for certain uses. For example, a company that makes children's toys or women's clothing might want to stake a claim on Pinterest, which is image heavy and whose audience is primarily female.

Once you have selected the right networks for your company, take care to develop the right presence on each. Be aware of what kind of content works for each site. In other words, what you post on Facebook might not make sense on Twitter, and vice versa.

You will have to dedicate resources to maintaining and growing your presence on social media sites. That doesn't mean that you have to set aside a staff of people or even one person to social networking. It does mean that you have to carve out at least some dedicated time for at least one person. With social networks, updates, sharing, and collaboration are expected; it's not called social networking for nothing. If three different social networks make sense for your company but you have the resources to effectively maintain presence on only one, maintain presence on only one.

Finally, just as you do with your own website, you will want to gather and analyze data generated by activity on the social sites you've chosen to use. You have to listen to gain insight into what's being said about your brand. The information you glean from this process will help you determine whether maintaining a social presence is worth it to your company, and if so, how to build on it.

The BrainYard checked out five major public social networks--Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest--for accomplishing 10 business tasks. Here's what we found.

Follow Deb Donston-Miller on Twitter at @debdonston.

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