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LinkedIn v Twitter: Which is better for your small business?

Having a social presence is an absolute must for businesses of all sizes these days. Social networks are fast becoming the most effective tool companies can use to market their business, promote their products and reach out and engage with existing and potential customers.

As an SME owner, social platforms can drive maximum exposure and deliver great Return on Investment (ROI) for your company. That said, developing a strong social presence doesn't mean spreading yourself thin by signing up to as many networks as possible. Doing this will prove a drain on your time and therefore money, which are both invaluable to you as an SME owner, so it's best to focus on just one or two networks you believe will best benefit your business.

In this article, we will take a look at two of the largest social networks: LinkedIn and Twitter. LinkedIn boasts 350 million users, while Twitter has over 302 million monthly active users. The two networks are vastly different in terms of how they are accessed and how people engage with one another, as well as what and how content is shared.

There's no doubt that LinkedIn and Twitter both have many benefits, but which network is better for what? Let's take a look...

Best for building brand awareness: Twitter
If you are a relatively new business and the most important thing to you right now is increasing awareness, then Twitter is a good place to start. By posting regularly, sharing and retweeting interesting articles, and engaging with relevant Twitter users, you will soon start to build yourself a strong social presence and raise brand awareness.

Best for reaching professionals: LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a professional network designed specifically for the business community; and more business leaders and decision-makers are on LinkedIn than any other network. If you are a B2B business, then LinkedIn can help you connect with other business owners who may be interested in your services.

Best for reaching consumers: Twitter
Business professionals can be found on LinkedIn; consumers can be found on Twitter. Using the network's search feature, you are able to find out more about what is happening in your industry and what your target customers are talking about. As long as you are sure you can add value, getting involved with these conversations can help increase exposure and your reputation, earning you valuable Twitter followers in return.

What's more, Twitter is considered to be a much more open network, and you will find it much easier to connect with people. An unwritten rule of LinkedIn is that you should have some sort of professional interaction with an individual before asking to connect with them. Twitter users, on the other hand, are much more prone to hitting the 'follow' button, regardless of whether they have interacted previously with your brand or not. Plus, if you 'follow' someone you think provides value to your business, it is more than likely that they will follow you in return. In this sense, then, Twitter is a great network for extending reach and quick.

Best for in-depth engagement: LinkedIn
Twitter imposes a 140 character word limit, meaning that you are extremely restricted in terms of the content you are able to share. On the contrary, there is no word limit on LinkedIn, allowing you to share more in-depth, insightful articles with your community. Showcasing your knowledge in this way will help you to establish yourself as an industry leader, which is key to standing out among your competitors.

Best for showing brand personality: Twitter
Twitter is a great in breaking down business-consumer communication barriers. This is because, generally speaking, Twitter is an informal network, whilst LinkedIn is centred on professionalism. Interacting with consumers through Twitter helps to show the personal side to your brand, which can help you gain their trust as well as their loyalty.

Best for knowledge-gaining: LinkedIn
On LinkedIn, you have access to endless articles that can provide you with valuable industry insight. These can be accessed using the LinkedIn groups feature, whereby you join groups relevant to your industry to learn about the latest developments and trends. Verdict: So, which one will it be? Both networks can offer many benefits to your business; what you need to do is decide which one most aligns with your business objectives. Perhaps you want to test out both and see which yields the best results...

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