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The 3 Most Misused Social Media Networks in Business

“Social media” is almost a buzzword these days and these platforms are how most people now communicate online. But the fact that people are communicating is no proof that they’re doing so well. In fact, lots of people aren’t.

The key thing to remember is that there are multiple social media networks and each one is distinct. That means they shouldn’t all be used the same way.

Think of it like this:

You are going to an event. The event could be a child’s birthday party, or a tailgate at an NFL football game, or a formal dinner for a foundation you support. Are you picturing it? Now, how are you going to dress?

You wouldn’t wear your suit or gown to a tailgate and you wouldn’t wear jeans and a sports jersey to a formal dinner. Of course you wouldn’t. So why would you post tweets to Facebook? And yet many people do just that.

Let me give you some examples I’ve seen of the misuse of social media networks in business.

1. Facebook

Facebook is a behemoth, with many facets and subsets. You can use it many different ways, for many different things. You can advertise your services, connect with potential clients, organize political actions or discuss your favorite hobbies, share photos of your kids….

The main problem with Facebook is that a lot of people use it as if it were Twitter, posting lots of brief updates about whatever, all filled with trending hashtags. Please. Use Twitter for Twitter. It will work much better. On Facebook, variable privacy settings and an undependable search function mean that hashtags are somewhat useless. Anyway, the advantage of Facebook is the way it facilitates more detailed sharing and long conversational threads, and both get harder if somebody is clogging up everybody’s news feeds with Tweet-style posts. And yes, I know people who will unfriend you for that sort of thing, too.

2. LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the professional’s dream network. Where else can you find a job, get a client, make new connections, and learn about businesses all in one place? Nowhere.

Except now more people are treating LinkedIn like Facebook, sharing personal things and being chatty, as if this were some hang-out at a bar. And it’s not, it’s a professional event. At an office mixer, you’d avoid the guy who’s taking about his divorce and drinking too much, and if you act unprofessionally on LinkedIn, people there will avoid you, too. Facebook already exists, and it’s much better at being Facebook than LinkedIn is. So, let’s let LinkedIn be LinkedIn.

3. Twitter

And then there is Twitter. Twitter is the ultimate free-for-all. It’s a gathering of all sorts of people willing to talk about whatever. It’s amazing. You can get news, ideas, articles, images, and on and on. Except… everyone is talking. No one is listening, no one is asking any questions, no one is interacting at all. The first person that pauses, listens, asks, and then listens again… well, that person wins. But so few do it, which I guess is why so many people have gone to Facebook and are using it like Twitter–because at least there someone will listen to them. For now.

The point is that each social media platform has its own tools, its own traditions and purpose, its own thing that it does best. If you get to know each platform and use it well, you can accomplish a lot. If you treat them all like an undifferentiated jumble, as if you were wearing the same outfit and acting the same way wherever you went, you might entertain yourself, but that’s all you’ll end up doing.