5 Reasons to Connect on Social Media

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The ever-changing and complex world of social media is challenging — even for a marketing or business development professional. It’s a great way to network, but the questions can make your head spin. When do you connect with someone or where do you connect with someone (LinkedIn)? When do you friend someone (Facebook)? When do you follow someone (Twitter and Instagram)? What’s the difference? There are other social media platforms, but these are the main four used in the business world today.

In the last several years, the platforms have changed in regard to the line between personal and business. Is there a line anymore? These days, it appears that nothing is off-limits to anyone. People used to ask me if I had separate profiles on Facebook, to split up my business and my personal life. I don’t. Not yet. Facebook was the more social and fun place to be. It’s where I connected with my friends regardless of where geographically they were located. This allowed me to stay in touch with those friends I made a connection with at some point in my life. I wanted to know what was going on in their lives, whether that be a new job, wedding, kids, vacations, or some new-found hobby they had acquired. It also gave me something to talk to them about when we did see each other face-to-face. I had past classmates friend me on Facebook, and I would accept the friend request.

Facebook now seems to be the place for business connections, which seems odd to me. I’m not saying I don’t have business contacts on my Facebook profile, but I’m very intentional when it comes to whom I accept friend requests from. I don’t feel like it’s a popularity contest about having the most friends. I can’t even keep up with many of them, mostly because of Facebook’s algorithms (that’s another topic entirely). Nonetheless, Facebook seems to be the more prominent place for business, which I find fascinating.

Here are 5 reasons I’ll connect with you on Facebook:

  1. You met me somewhere outside of a professional networking event (e.g., fitness class, community service event, church, etc.).
  2. You genuinely want to be my friend and care about me. (In other words, you know my husband’s name and know my political stance.)
  3. We have a shared hobby (e.g., hiking, biking, water skiing).
  4. We’ve enjoyed a glass of wine, beer, or cocktail together.
  5. You make me laugh!

On the other hand, LinkedIn was actually created as a platform for all things business. This is where you connect with business professionals and keep up-to-date with your contacts and colleagues. People share great articles about industry news, leadership, management, and professional association information. You aren’t going to see posts about vacations, kids, or pets (or at least you shouldn’t… that content belongs on Facebook or Instagram). LinkedIn was created to help companies and individuals connect in the business world. This platform is used to educate and connect business contacts whether that be from a marketing, sales, or recruitment standpoint. There are many ways a professional should use LinkedIn to build their business, educate themselves, or find the right employee.

Here are 5 reasons I’ll connect with you on LinkedIn:

  1. You want to create a professional networking connection (e.g., referrals, introductions).
  2. You want to learn more about the industry I work in.
  3. We work in the same industry.
  4. We met at a conference or business event.
  5. If I have never met you but you want to connect, you send me a personal message with the reason you want to connect. 99% of the time, I’ll connect with you.

Twitter also serves a different purpose. Tweets are shorter messages limited to only 280 characters, so you must get your point across quickly. Twitter is good for news, sports, or if you are wanting to follow a certain hashtag for a campaign or conference. Hashtags were born on Twitter and have expanded to other social media platforms, specifically Instagram. A Twitter handle can be set up to be followed by anyone or one can approve who follows the account. Many times, information shared on Twitter is public and isn’t as personal as Facebook or Instagram (depending on how you have your privacy settings on all your platforms).

Instagram is the visual social media platform where you communicate your message with photos and videos. The character limit for an Instagram post is 2,200 characters which includes the maximum of 30 hashtags allowed. Hashtags are important on Instagram, especially now that you can follow them like you would someone’s profile (which means any post including that hashtag will show up in your feed). This allows users to see more content on the topics they are really interested in. Companies can use hashtags to market their business and promote a campaign or product. Marketers can use hashtags to find potential clients and employees, too. This allows one to follow or connect with like-minded individuals who are interested in your industry or product.  

I used to say I’d only friend you on Facebook if we could drink wine on a patio or belly up to the bar with a beer. Now, that doesn’t seem to be the case in today’s business world. In the last several years, I have received WAY more Facebook friend request than I have LinkedIn connection requests. I have also discovered fewer people are on LinkedIn, which is a little baffling to me from a business perspective. Through LinkedIn you get to know someone as a business professional and what they are interested in learning for their business or career. This allows me to help people more than I could on Facebook. I’m not saying Facebook doesn’t have a place in the business world, because I believe it does. I just think people need to understand the different meanings — and benefits — of each platform.

To give an analogy, LinkedIn is asking for a meeting (making that connection) where Facebook is having a drink or dinner with the person. These are two totally different connections. LinkedIn may be the place you start the relationship where Facebook is where you already have an established relationship. You don’t ask someone to marry you on the first date, so make sure you utilize the correct platform for what you are trying to accomplish

Twitter and Instagram are growing in popularity, especially Instagram. The nice thing about these two platforms is that people can follow you, but you don’t necessarily have to follow them back. You can also set your profiles up to be private, which means you have to approve requests from people who want to follow you. It’s more likely you may want to do this with your personal profile than a business profile. It just depends on your tactics for your accounts.

When sharing anything on any social media platform, think about what you are about to post first. Ask yourself some questions:

  • Will this help someone?
  • Will this entertain someone?
  • Would my grandma be proud of this?

Again, content posted on a personal profile is much different than a business page/account. It’s also different depending on the platform you’re using. As I mentioned earlier, you wouldn’t post about vacations and family on LinkedIn, but you would on Instagram or Facebook.

How do you feel about the different platforms? What is your preferred platform? How do you utilize your business platforms? How do you utilize your individual platforms? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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