Using Social Media for Business Part 1: Facebook vs. LinkedIn

By Michael Alter
Participating in social media is rapidly becoming a necessity for businesses. In 2013, we're seeing discussions among business owners shifting away from why to participate to where and how to get involved. Social media is fast becoming social business. Recent research has shown 73 percent of salespeople using social media outperform those who don't. 
Getting involved in social media initiatives requires planning and time. Determine which social site is the right fit for your customers and prospects, then develop a business strategy for participation along with social business goals. Learn about the demographics of social media site users; know your customer base and their social site preferences. 
Social sites are not universally interchangeable for businesses. You should never select one social site for business over another site based on your personal preference. Invest time into better understanding social site demographics and your customers' social site preferences. Learn how to leverage social sites to the greatest benefit for your business.
Demographics of Facebook versus LinkedIn
People may mention Facebook and LinkedIn in the same breath, however, while seemingly equal, there's a significant difference. When you dig into the demographics, number of users, and the features of each site, you begin to see major differences. 
Facebook, a truly social network platform, is designed to encourage people to share and communicate. While LinkedIn has established a reputation for connecting college-educated business professionals, Facebook has established a reputation for connecting almost everyone. 
LinkedIn has been primarily focused on becoming the online Rolodex of connections for business people. LinkedIn, known as the business networking platform, is touted as a salesperson's best bet as an added sales tool. LinkedIn users tend to be white-collar college graduates, which makes the LinkedIn environment appealing to the business community, job seekers, and corporate recruiters. 
Facebook vs. LinkedIn: Stats and Features
MembersMore than 1 billionMore than 200 million
Monthly visitors960 million97 million
Gender of visitors43% male
57% female
50% male
50% female
Age of visitor13-17 years: 7%
18-34 years: 26%
35+ years: 66%
13-17 years: 1%
18-34 years: 19%
35+ years: 80%
Site featuresPhoto uploading
Private message sending
Public message posting
Video uploading
Photo uploading
Private message sending

Video uploading
Networking featuresEvent/activity invites
File sharing
Instant messaging
Multiuser games
Private messaging
Real-time updates from other users
Event/activity invites
File sharing

Real-time updates from other users
Search featuresFiltering
Live search results
Search suggestions
Live search results
Search optionse-mail address
Online now
e-mail address



Know the Social Media Preferences of Your Customer Base
Businesses should know where customers spend the most social media time because it's easier to join them in an environment they're already comfortable using. There are several ways to find out where your customers are socially active; the least costly way is to ask. There are paid services in an emerging field called social anthropology that will take e-mail addresses of your customers and return a profile of social network information. 
When you know where your customers spend their social media time, you develop your strategy and begin to interact with them in that space. Social media can be leveraged like word-of-mouth advertising; your connection with customers will be visible to their connections, which can make for a much easier sale to friends of friends.
How Others Use Facebook for Business
There are many positive aspects of developing a Facebook profile for your business, and being active by creating news and adding posts will generate greater awareness. According to Facebook, over one billion people "like" and comment an average of 3.2 billion times daily. Having a profile page and connecting with your customers would allow you to be a part of these ongoing conversations. 
As a branding initiative, businesses create a Facebook page and become active by posting updates to increase awareness among customers and prospects. Facebook has a News Feed feature that streams updates from those who are connected on Facebook. Facebook also offers paid advertising. 
Creating posts on Facebook is easy and should be managed with ongoing frequency. There are paid options for posting as well. For a fee, you can promote your post, which moves your post up in your followers' time line. 
Follow these tips to write quality Facebook posts:
  • Make sure your posts are relevant to your audience and business.
  • Be succinct, friendly, and conversational.
  • Share photos and videos, because they tend to be more engaging.
  • Ask questions or seek input.
  • Give access to exclusive information and specials.
  • Be timely by posting about current events, holidays, or news.

How Others Use LinkedIn for Business
LinkedIn is a publicly traded company (LNKD), which means its revenue, operations, and earnings are public information. Eighty percent of LinkedIn's revenue comes from hiring solutions and marketing, which means businesses and corporations provide the majority of revenue for LinkedIn. 
Companies are creating LinkedIn company pages, posting job openings, and joining discussion groups. They're also are using LinkedIn to attract talent, start and nurture conversations with customers and prospects, create leads, and promote other social media channels and initiatives. Business professionals are creating profiles and recommending others for their skills. 
Related article:
About the author:
Michael Alter, payroll expert with an MBA from Harvard Business School, is a nationally recognized spokesperson providing thought leadership and sensible advice to help accounting and payroll professionals build deeper more profitable relationships with clients. Alter, president of SurePayroll, writes the Trade Secrets column on and is frequently published in Bloomberg TV, Wall Street Journal, and Entrepreneur Magazine.


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