Social media with staying power ... for business

This month marks the one-year anniversary of Facebook officially surpassing Google as the most visited website. This little factoid says a lot about the evolution of the online experience and the growing power of social media.

And, let's not forget about Twitter, with 190 million users tweeting 65 million times a day, according to Twitter COO Dick Costolo.

These oft cited figures about the popularity of these sites and services are reason enough for many businesses to justify incorporating them into their marketing strategies. But there's another dimension to consider when building an effective social media strategy -- staying power.

Twitter, for example, is very flexible and designed to allow for rapid response times. If you invest in building an audience, you can react quickly to a crisis or other situation that calls for you to immediately communicate your side of a story. But life on Twitter is fleeting, as your messages quickly fade in the constantly scrolling feed.

Facebook, on the other hand, provides a more permanent repository of messages, though it also is subject to updates that push older news down, albeit not at the eye-blink rate of Twitter.

Still, a lot of companies rightly question the value of Facebook, with its more-casual social postings.

Enter LinkedIn.

While recent stats seem to indicate Facebook is taking over the world, last December's Advertising Age included an article by Irvina Slutsky titled, "Why LinkedIn is the Social Network that Will Never Die."

In that article, Slutsky contends LinkedIn is the ultimate online business tool and says it will do more than survive over time, it will thrive. Slutsky contends that, along with Facebook, the platforms will succeed because the two are so different both in content and in tone -- with one being polished and button-down, the other easy-going and personal.

LinkedIn is also co-opting many of Facbook's most successful and business-appropriate features, moving out of the realm of personal job hunting and into business marketing.

For example, last year LinkedIn enabled pages for companies, in addition to individuals, and as a result businesses "have jumped on the feature like a starving hyena on the fresh carcass of an elephant. Just in one week, more than 40,000 companies signed up, since now marketers can use the pages to promote new products and ... yes, engage with their customers," wrote Slutsky.

Another addition has been LinkedIn Groups, which provide a forum for those with similar, business-related interests. Reportedly groups haven't yet been regarded as a home-run in terms of participation and account for low traffic, wrote Slutsky.

Personally, I find groups valuable and subscribe to several, with posts automatically appearing in my email that allow me to scan conversations on topics that interest me.

And, of course, LinkedIn now includes Twitter streams, allows you to recommend colleagues or friends you have done business with, and has added its own version of the Facebook "like" button.

While not a replacement for a website, or the other services, LinkedIn is growing in importance for businesses and providing an important addition -- one with staying power -- to the social media toolbox.

Schmid is the managing partner of Cook + Schmid, a San Diego-based marketing and public relations firm. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @jschmidpr, or read his blog at

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