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LinkedIn, Facebook and PitchEngine all have paid options that provide benefits that their free services cannot. The real question, however, is which social media accounts are worth paying for, and which are not.

Out of all the social media tools, LinkedIn provides one of the most helpful paid services. LinkedIn offers different levels among their paid accounts geared towards job-seekers, recruiters and businesses. Paid LinkedIn accounts expand your search options to allow you to search for jobs based on salary, see detailed information about who has viewed your profile, and perhaps most importantly, send “InMail” messages to people not in your network. But who should pay for LinkedIn is the more important question. LinkedIn is highly effective for recruiters to source names and consultants who use a lot of specific vendors.

Facebook has recently expanded its paid options. Targeted ads have long been part of Facebook and provide businesses a possibility to increase their customer engagement. The new paid option for businesses is sponsored stories, which appear in your news feed and are the only ads that can be displayed on Facebook mobile. Whether you should pay for any of these services largely depends on your type of business and the audience you’re trying to reach. The beauty of Facebook ads is that due to an active user base, loads of information is collected and allowing businesses to target niche group of customers.

For sending out announcements or press releases, PitchEngine is a tool that offers both free and paid options. It allows you to embed videos and pictures into your announcement, publish an unlimited number of announcements to search engines, social media sites, mobile sites and email. There are two paid options at $39 a month or $99 a month, which both make your announcements SEO friendly.

Instead of signing up for all paid accounts on social media, decide which paid social media sites would be most helpful for your brand. If you want to connect with people outside of your network, LinkedIn’s paid feature may be appealing to you, whereas if you want to optimize your press releases for SEO, one of PitchEngine’s paid plans may suit your needs.

When Google+ was released a little over a year ago, it was marketed as a competitor to Facebook.  While Google+ has failed to reach the level of popularity and profitability of Facebook, it has not failed as a site.  The potential of Google+ is in its being an extension of Google, not in its attempt to be a social networking site.

Insiders view Google+ as a tool for supporting already-established internet tools, such as Google and Youtube.  This month Google+ introduced more features designed to integrate different Google tools into its interface. The Events feature on Google+ will be compatible with Google calendar and allows you to invite people who are outside your circles.  Google+ connects the different Google tools, such as mail, google search, and now the calendar, into one organized site.

From our view, people don’t engage with companies on Google+ as much as they do on Facebook, which makes it less successful as a marketing tool.  From the recruiting standpoint, the vast majority of users aren’t active enough on the site to make Google+ as worthwhile as LinkedIn, or even Facebook, for this purpose.

Google+ does beat Facebook at video-chatting.  The Google+ video-chatting feature allows users to form “hangouts” with many users on site.  Organizations, such as news organizations, can use such hangouts to live-stream interviews and take questions from a virtual and interactive audience.  

Finally, the mobile site for Google+ is more accessible.  As mobile is becoming an increasingly important market for social media, the Google+’ user-friendly mobile app gives it a possible advantage against Facebook.

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