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How to choose the right social media channel for your business

The question is not whether you use social media to market your business but how. In this article, we introduce you to the benefits of the main social media channels, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and blogs.

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The question is not whether you use social media to market your business but how. In this article, we introduce you to the benefits of the main social media channels, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and blogs, and help you to find the right fit for your business. Twitter What is it? A micro-blogging network with an estimated 85 million active users including journalists, celebrities, politicians and businesses. Twitter involves making short updates and communicating with other users in 140 characters or fewer. Business benefits: Twitter allows businesses to talk to customers, quickly share information, drive website traffic, get instant feedback and build relationships with potential customers, partners and the press. Who should use it? Businesses that want to create an informal voice for their company and are prepared to put the hours in engaging with and responding to customers. Great for businesses with web content that they want to publicise. Facebook What is it? Facebook is a social network that lets friends "connect and share" content with each other. However, with more than 750 million active users, including 30 million in the UK alone, businesses of all sizes have started to get in on the act by creating Facebook ‘fan' pages. Business benefits: Improve customer loyalty, drive traffic to your website, engage with your customers and gather new leads. Businesses can also place very targeted ads on Facebook for a fee. Who should use it? Businesses of all types are getting onto Facebook – not just those aimed at the teenage market (65% of Facebook users are over 25) – but it is suited to those that run events, produce lots of content online (it's particularly good for video and photo sharing) and who can run competitions and promotions to grow their number of Facebook followers. LinkedIn What is it? A social network of 100 million professionals, including 4 million in the UK, that allows business owners and employees to display their professional credentials (a sort of online CV), plus make new contacts and manage relationships. LinkedIn also allows you to set up and join groups and create a business page. Business benefits: Make new contacts, manage relationships, get referrals, increase your credibility and, to a lesser extent, drive traffic to your website. Who should use it? All professionals, including business owners and their employees, can benefit from using LinkedIn. YouTube What is it? A video-sharing website on which users can upload, share and view videos. Owned by Google, it is the second biggest search engine in the world and its content shows up on Google's search engine results pages. Business benefits: Easy to upload and edit videos, even that shot on a mobile phone. YouTube has made video cheap and accessible to all. This content can then be easily embedded in websites, blogs and other social media. Who should use it? Businesses with a product or service that can easily be demonstrated, or knowledge that can be shared, by video. Blogs What are they? Blogs or ‘web logs' are online commentary or news item that is created by an individual 'blogger'. There are millions of blogs online covering a huge range of mainstream and specialist subjects. Blogging has grown in popularity over the years and is used by people to promote ideas, arguments, products, services and news commentary. Business benefits: Increase credibility in your marketplace, improve search engine rankings, increase traffic to your website and develop relationships with potential customers. Who should use them? Businesses with something to say or knowledge to share; you should only keep a blog if you can keep it updated regularly and have something interesting to say.

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