The unique benefits of each social platform

Businesses today are starting to understand the value of social media for marketing and are turning their attention to integrating these various platforms into their strategy. Marketing plans that continue to solely focus on traditional methods and do not include social strategies are archaic and ineffective in today's social world. However, with multiple social platforms to choose from, it can be difficult to understand how to manage each account.

When managing multiple social media accounts, it's important to understand that not all platforms were created equal. Each platform (though there are some similarities) functions independently with its own unique qualities. As a result, social media managers must treat each platform as such. Let's take a closer look at the best ways to integrate the most popular social networks that businesses use today.

Facebook

With more than 1 billion active users, it's a no-brainer that businesses should have a Facebook presence, but keep in mind that Facebook is about more than just the number of "likes" a company has. Facebook is a great way to build brand persona and awareness through updates, contests, and sharing videos or pictures. It's a place to showcase a company's culture and vision, so be cognizant of the content posted on a business page. Businesses should also take advantage of the location information users provide in their profiles, allowing for targeted advertising based on city and the option to offer deals through Facebook Places when a users "checks in" to a particular business or location.

Twitter

Twitter began as a way to quickly share "what's happening." Now with more than 170 million active users, the microsite has evolved into a successful marketing tool when used strategically. Twitter is a free way to monitor conversations happening about your brand as they are happening. This allows businesses to extend their customer service efforts, as they can detect problems early and act timely, rectifying brewing situations before they can spill over. Twitter is also a great place to find hot leads, as people constantly tweet about things they need or want. Reach out to those who are at the point of decision making and introduce them to your product or service. And because many users follow their favorite brands and businesses, Twitter is a great platform to share deals and discounts or announce sales and new products.

LinkedIn

Last year, 10 million to 15 million users per quarter joined LinkedIn. Known as the social network for professionals, LinkedIn has plenty of benefits for business. At the basis of a successful business, there are employees that keep the wheels turning and business moving forward. LinkedIn is the preferred platform to recruit top-level employees. Employers can search for candidates based on job requirements, as users publicly offer their resumes and skill sets. LinkedIn Groups is also a great place for a business to grow its network while building rapport through offering advice or helpful content.

Google+

With more than 100 million active users, Google+ is a huge success compared to its predecessor, Google Buzz. One of the biggest benefits of Google+ for businesses is improved results in Google Search, increasing your visibility and helping customers find your business faster. The +1 button also increases the chance of this visibility, as the more +1s a link has, the more attention it gets in search results. Additionally, Google+ Circles create more personal relationships with consumers, even allowing businesses to have live video chat sessions with their audience through Hangouts.

Pinterest

Hailed as the "the fastest growing social site" ever, Pinterest is a great place for businesses to focus some of their social media efforts. Consumers love pictures, especially when they are looking to purchase a product or service. But beyond posting pictures of products to drive sales, Pinterest is also the platform to build your brand and showcase your mission. Dedicate a board to the company culture or lifestyle, and pin content that shows the company's unique personality. Pinterest also drives traffic to your site, so make sure you are detailed in the description and include a link back to your site.

Because social media is an essential part of successful marketing today, marketing, community, and social media managers must be well versed in the social media platforms most used. Effectively using social media begins with proper education of the platform, as each of the ones above has the potential to be a valuable asset, not only in the success of a social media plan, but also in the success of the business overall.

Eileen Bernardo is the public relations and communication manager at Viralheat.

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