Small Business Opinion | LinkedIn VS Facebook – What is best for Small Business?

Recently. I got posed a question following my blog post about the benefits of LinkedIn, “Can Facebook ever rival LinkedIn for small business use?” It’s an interesting point. Both sites excel in different ways.

Facebook – More than just Farmville

A well organised Facebook profile for a business is a hugely valuable tool. It’s fair to say that Facebook is becoming increasingly embedded in Internet users’ everyday lives and the site currently boats in the region of 400 million active users; over half of them log into the site daily.

A look at Facebook’s own demographics shows that 1.5 million local businesses have active fan pages and these have been ‘fanned’ by more than 5.3 billion people. Indeed, on an average day, 20 million users fan a page on Facebook. That’s a vast number, and a little shy of half the total users registered on LinkedIn. If you get Facebook right, the benefits are obvious.

LinkedIn – Not just a job board

LinkedIn as I’ve previously discussed has a largely professional audience, according to the sites own analytics, over 52% of Linkedin’s users would be considered business decision-makers, with an average annual income of $107,000.

That said, both sites have their obvious strengths, weaknesses and of course, similarities. You can create a personal profile, update a status, blog, join and form groups, and network with new people you may or may not have met yet. Another similarity of the platforms is the integration with Twitter, widely acknowledged as a leading traffic driver these days.

What is best for small business?

To work out which is best suited to your businesses need, first answer this question, “Who do I want to reach; Consumers or other businesses?” This simple question will largely dictate which platform is best for you.

If you are trying to reach a consumer audience, or perhaps you’re a not-for-profit organisation, Facebook would be your number one choice. Most people use the site as a way of connecting with friends and family, not to talk business, but don’t forget, these friends are potential customers too.

Since Facebook launched fan pages last year, its opened a whole new sphere of business interest. Fan pages allow you to build specific tabs to your own design with Facebook’s own take on HTML code, Facebook Markup Language (FBML) and most importantly, customize the URL for the page too. Additionally, you can integrate with Flickr and display galleries and photo streams of images, host polls, videos, documents and include any number of 75,000 other applications too. This post by Social Media Hound describes the benefits in more detail.

LinkedIn is a very different beast and if you’re looking to target key business decision makers, look no further than this site. Unlike Facebook, most people on LinkedIn are there for business reasons only. Indeed, gone is the relaxed and friendly attitude of Facebook; LinkedIn demands the same level of professionalism as the workplace. The purpose is to be able to network — to have access to your contacts’ contacts, and in that way further your professional outlook. You want to find a job? A new sales opportunity? Information about a client? Here’s a way to do that.

With over 55 million professionals on its books, LinkedIn really is THE address book for communicating with businesses. Neat features such as recommendation and groups allow you to offer thought and obtain feedback and opinion from peers, building you and your businesses brand.

That’s my twopenneth on the subject, but leave a comment and let me know what you think about these two platforms. Which would you choose for your business?

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