This article is the 2nd in our series on Business Relationships with Social Connections. In the first part of our series, we introduced the idea of exploring how social media affects relationships. We began by asking "How Does Social Media Redefine Relationships?" In that first article of the series, we asked you, the readers, some important questions about social media and relationships. We also defined some of the most important words used in social media that are used so often, but not often differentiated or explained. Now, in part 2 of this series, we will identify which social media channels are most suitable for cultivating each one of the social relationships identified in part one.
Friendship: The good thing about a friend is that you can often find him or her anywhere and often in the least likely of places. Therefore, you have the ability to make a friend using any social network; however, we deem Facebook to be the social network that really helps build friendships. You can share multimedia easily on Facebook and send private messages. Of course, you can do this on pretty much all the social networks, but Facebook has become a much more relaxed and social network full of people sharing, caring, and building lasting relationships. It is easier to develop friendships on Facebook than any other social media channel.
In the early days of Twitter, I would have jumped to say that Twitter can help a person to develop friendships. However, things on Twitter have changed by light years since 2007. The enormity of this social network makes it difficult to develop meaningful friendships. However, I would not say that it is impossible to develop friendships on Twitter simply because of hashtags and trending topics. It is possible to find people who have similar interests and then cultivate a friendship 140 characters at a time.
Google Plus just doesn't have the kind of traction necessary to build friendships. However, it does have tools that you can use to communicate with friends, such as video hangouts. LinkedIn is probably the least likely network for building friendships since it is relegated to professional relationships, sales calls, and job searching.
Fans: Building fans and followers is one of the major goals of just about every business that is using social media. We define fans as mostly associated with Facebook since that is the term that is most used for people who like a business' page. The term fan originated with Facebook as they called their business pages "fan pages" before switching them to brand pages. When dealing with your customers, fan is definitely a more endearing term than follower since being a fan indicates more than just liking something or wanting to follow a company's updates.
Followers: Since follower is more of a general term, it really can apply to any of the social networks. If you have a business page on any of the social networks, the people who like the page or "follow" you can be referred to as followers. Following a page can indicate that a consumer is interested in getting updates and information from your brand.
For Facebook, when a person "likes" a page, that person is essentially following that page since he or she will get updates in their own stream when that business posts something new.
On Twitter, as well as on most other social networks, it is actually a "follow" button, so people who follow a brand on Twitter, by definition, are followers.
Business Connections: Business connections are synonymous with LinkedIn. Since LinkedIn is the professional network, this is the best place to build business connections as well as perform other business-related tasks such as making sales calls, recruiting new employees, or finding a new job.
Influencers: An influencer is a much more powerful word. If you become an influencer, you don't just have followers or fans, but you have people who regularly react to the things you post of social media. They can advocate for your brand and will be prone to share your message and encourage others in their network to purchase your products and/or services. You can gain influencers in any social network; however, Facebook is probably the most likely channel to produce influencers because of the types of media that can be easily shared and then seen by their own social networks.
Each social network has certain types of relationships that are most likely to form within it. When you use your social channels in the ways that are most appropriate, your business can benefit by developing the right connections, being an influencer, and garnering a benefit from being shared among the networks of your friends, fans, followers, and business connections. Remember that your business should be on social media to engage with others. Keep in mind the appropriate behaviors for each social channel and you will experience success within each one.