image flickr @10chEven though we are in the day and age of social media and every parent is posting pictures of their kids on Facebook and professional photographers are
showcasing their work on Instagram, it still doesn’t mean that everyone or every brand knows which network to use and for what.  I don’t believe in “rules” so I won’t provide a “must do” guide, but I will share with you how I use each social network which might help you navigate the social streaming waters.

Blogging is the grandparent of social media and has huge value in my mind.  Whether you are an individual or a brand, a blog presents the opportunity to position yourself as an expert in your field.  Your blog entries need to be clear, concise and well written in order to be effective or you will lose your readers/customers. It’s an excellent SEO tool too so I believe every brand, even though it does take time and effort, should sport one on their website.  Our Creative Concepts blog is geared for potential clients so it’s simple and presents “how-to” kinds of information as well as up to date social media and PR news and has evolved over time based on the needs of the business and our clients.  WordPress and Tumblr are some of the most well-known platforms (and in my mind the best) but there are many out there to choose from based on your requirements.

I got onto Facebook literally years ago when Robert Scoble made a bold announcement that it was the next big thing.  I follow these kinds of announcements as more of a call to investigate but this time I agreed with him as Facebook truly did have potential.  Back in the day, I used the social network to rub elbows with my social media peers as they were the only ones on it, but over time my approach has evolved as has my community which is now predominantly family as well as past and present friends.  Today I share mostly kid news and inspirational images and videos.  I do post some client content but keep that at a minimum.  For Creative Concepts, each client page we manage approaches Facebook differently but to make an overarching statement, the social network is still great for consumer brands because of the capability to engage the customer and have them take an action successfully.

LinkedIn feels to me like an old castle.  It’s reputable and withstood the test of time and has the obvious great hall (aka newsfeed) but there are many hidden rooms (or tools) to uncover that could provide great value whether you are looking for more clients, searching for a new job, searching for employees, or positioning yourself as a thought leader and more.  It’s not always obvious what to do when on the site but if you spend enough time walking the hallways so to speak, you will find numerous gems of opportunity that will help you attain your business or career goals.  I only post business content here and do the same for clients.

Twitter is a whole bunch of fun for me and very useful.  I personally got onto Twitter much later than the other social networks because it seemed to have its own foreign language which I didn’t have time to learn.  But….once I finally immersed myself in Twitter culture I ran with it.  Here I chat about all that is social media, public relations and marketing.  I use it to share client content, to look for and report on breaking news and happily use it to access many of our media contacts who actually pay attention to their twitter mentions.  I can almost tell immediately how much experience people have with social media by checking out their twitter feed which is useful in assessing possible employees and future clients.  And speaking of clients, I still feel that Twitter doesn’t have as much impact as other social networks when it comes to driving followers to a specific action but it’s a necessity for live events, hashtag campaigns and basic brand exposure if your customer is on Twitter.

Pinterest is therapeutic for me which means I don’t really take it seriously and I have never gotten a business lead from it, but I do enjoy pinning to my boards as a break from any intense work I am doing.  I know that many bloggers drive traffic to their blog by using this network and it is starting to attract business types along with those interested in fashion, food, travel, weddings, interior design and more, so it does have potential like all social networks if you invest the time and energy into ‘working’ it.

Instagram is a great example (for me) on how you can begin using a channel one way, then engage in the network and then choose to use it completely differently.  When I first opened up my profile I kept it private as way to share photos with my family but later made my Instagram public and approached it like I did Twitter…it would focus on my social media and PR business. I have always loved taking photos and have had an appreciation for beautiful images so my business focus went by the wayside and I ended up only following top photogs (along with some close friends) and only posted my very best photos taken with my phone.  I have become more of a quiet observer unlike my presence on other social networks.

I literally joined Vine the day they announced the new app and messed around with it immediately.  I did a few client Vines but quickly realized that the time it took to produce a spectacular video was out of my skill range and so now I just watch hilarious Vines while waiting for something or someone…it’s pure entertainment (for me)!

To be honest, I don’t interact much on Google +, but I know there is great SEO value in posting content there so my team posts Creative Concepts and client content on a regular basis but we don’t stick around long enough to build it into a highly engaged community. There are many who believe that this network should be for both posting content and engaging with your community so as always do what works for you and/or your brand by testing it out.

I Snaptchat with my kids and find it hilarious but because the tools are not as robust as some of the other social networks and because my present clients chose to invest their social budget elsewhere, I limit my time here.

Totally used WhatsApp when my daughter traveled abroad but other than that friends and family don’t use it regularly nor do any of my clients…at this point I am waiting for the next international trip in order to get back on it.

Yik Yak is a crazy preteen/teen network (even though they say you need to be 17 to join) that focuses on anonymously sharing info and talking about others in a 1.5 mile radius.  It’s boring for me but lethal for teens as they are destroyed when called out by others (because most comments or ‘Yaks’ are negative).  This is a perfect example of the dark side of social media.

Foursquare, Four what?  Haven’t been on in ages but had some fun on it when I was using it actively.  Many stopped using this network as the rest of the social sites started to build their own location capabilities.

YouTube is hot of course and has huge reach (no other single cable TV network has this same reach for 18-34 year olds) but because I personally don’t produce videos, I don’t have my own channel and any client videos we produce go on their branded channel but don’t let that stop you from making the most of this very powerful and still growing social network.

Remember that this is not a strict guide on what every person or every brand should do within social media but more of an example of how you might approach the various social networks.  Here are a few closing tips that hopefully will help you get started on any or all of the above sites:

  1. Choose to be “social” where you are comfortable or where your customers are
  2. Test the waters by listening, posting and engaging to figure out what works
  3. Follow your instincts when connecting with others directly whether for yourself or a brand
  4. Walk away and return later (or not) from a comment if you can’t decide how to engage or respond appropriately
  5. Most of all, have fun reaching out to a present or emerging community in a meaningful way!

-Valorie Luther, Founder Creative Concepts

photo credit: 10ch via photopin cc