Getting the most from your Facebook and Twitter profiles

 

For many brands, Facebook and Twitter are viewed as another platform for broadcasting corporate messages and rarely are they linked to any strategic goals or objectives.

I often hear brands declare they want to create a Facebook account or get their brand on Twitter, but very few can say why and what they hope to achieve with it. Inevitably many attempts result in failure or very low level rewards and it’s the platforms that are written off as a waste of time for the brand.

For most brands, social media is something they can chose to engage with or chose to abstain from. But the truth is your brand is already being talked about, you’re just not yet part of the conversation.

Understanding how social platforms work and how to get the best out of them is crucial to deciding if it’s worthwhile investing your time and resources. But what is also key is understanding the difference between them and have separate strategies for each one. Facebook and Twitter in particular tend to end up lumped together and are used in similar ways, you’ll often hear Twitter being referred to as Facebook Lite when in fact the two offer very different opportunities for engagement and insight for your brand.

While social media is supported by technology, thinking about them as technologies may mean brands end up missing the point. Social media is about people, a collection of individuals and as in ‘real life’ you need to be mindful of what those individuals want from you. Even brand pages are managed by individuals and they will engage with you if they like what you have to say.

Motivations for engagement

How individuals connect on Facebook is very different to Twitter. Facebook is all about relationships, I share with my family and friends and they share with me. It’s all about connections on Facebook and interconnecting behaviours. We share our lives, or how we’d like others to see them, within our social circle.

Twitter is about shared interests, I share my interests with my followers and I follow people who share things that interest me. Twitter provides a tool for amplification, one tweet can reach many people absent of any social connection as long as the post is of interest.

Immediate vs long term reach

With sharing tools such as TweetDeck, it’s tempting to share your posts with many profiles at once, believing that your Facebook fans will be just as interested as your Twitter followers. But as we have already identified the motivations for engagement are distinct, so will be the level of interest between the two groups.

Facebook followers engage with your brand on an emotional level. They can find your content fun, interesting, it can solve a problem, answer a question or just provide some light relief. When I consider my own social media profiles, there are very few brands or individuals whom cut across both networks. And, those that do, share very different information across the two platforms. When I visit a Facebook profile I’m much more likely to be browsing for good content, it could be videos of my favourite band, a lit of tour dates, a campaign that inspires me or links to articles I’m keen to read.

The images below shows the amount of time spent on social media platforms per user per month with Facebook taking up 4 times as much user time as Twitter.

Screen Shot 2013-01-15 at 17.58.14

While some of this exists on Twitter, it’s easy to miss a lot of what’s said because it’s so fast paced. What Twitter is great for is its ability to share and amplify ideas, you never know who is going interact with you and what their response is going to be. And the conversation moves far quicker than most of us can keep up with.

When you post something on Facebook it can remain a fixture for quite a while and can be reposted and promoted at key points. The comments remain fixed and it all works to build a resource of long term engaging content that you can continue to draw on.

When you post to Twitter, the response can be immediate and then can vanish just as quickly. But on the flip side, you can find success even if you haven’t developed a huge fan base yet. Your reach can be small while the effects can be significant.

Quality vs quantity

While all of your content should be of a good quality, your Facebook users will demand more of you than your Twitter followers. As most Facebook users don’t like to clutter up their news feeds with uninteresting content, you have to put in more effort to gain new Likes either on your page or your content. Users will very quickly unlike your page if they are being bombarded with content that doesn’t match their interests to a good level. For users to share your content, their interest in each piece of content needs to be significant.

With Twitter, much of what is shared or retweeted only needs to be of reasonable interest and can cover both personal and professional life. As much of what we share goes by so fast, we feel more comfortable sharing large quantities of information with our followers and so the relevance doesn’t need to be as high.

Twitter users are information seekers and is the platform most used by the press for breaking news. Facebook users want to be engaged, entertained or inspired not broadcast to.

Conversation vs Interaction

Building conversations on Facebook is one of its key selling points. Once you have engaged fans with your content you can continue to talk to them, gaining invaluable insight into their expectations from your brand. You can use Facebook to support your customer service performance, answering queries or complaints about your brand which otherwise might have gone unresolved. You can also add value to your product or service development process by getting feedback from your customers directly before you launch. For the most part you know who your audience is, while you hope many will share your content, as your fan base grows you can talk to them directly and build loyalty and advocacy for your brand.

Twitter on the other is more about interactions. With the limited characters it’s often difficult to hold a conversation with your followers so the number of interactions you have with your followers is the main indicator. How often your posts are retweeted, your brand is mentioned or follow ups are made is how your interactions are measured. It’s also a great tool for listening to how your brand is discussed online as you can find any mentions that go beyond your followers and fans, this gives you the ability to respond to comments where a user hasn’t directly contacted you.

This infographic gives some really good statistics about how Twitter is used and why people share content.

Twitter-Facts-Figures-and-Statistics-2012-Infographic

 

Cross platform marketing

While I don’t advocate sharing the same updates across both platforms, you can utilise Facebook and Twitter for cross platform marketing by directing customers to alternative profiles. Tweeting a link to a Facebook post is more than ok and is a great way to offer your followers more detailed information about your brand as well as a richer experience.

Facebook engagement is at its highest when fans can interact with rich media; videos and images gain a far better response rate than text only updates. Twitter often requires you to send the user away from the platform to view this type of content, so make sure it’s to another of your profiles if you can. And in the same way, Twitter is great for making announcements so suggest your Facebook fans also follow you on Twitter for specific campaign activity.

Understanding how your customers use these different tools and the types of content that suit the technology gives you a great starting point to build a tactical plan to engage with your audiences.

Each platform has its strengths and weaknesses so understanding how to make them work for your objectives will give your communications activity a much higher chance of success.

 

Written by Felice Ayling

 

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