Following on from the results of our poll questions about social media use for business, we decided that it would be useful to have a more detailed discussion about the effectiveness of different platforms for business use - particularly Twitter and Facebook.
The topics we had in mind were making their use clearer, setting specific goals to measure effectiveness, and focusing on their particular capabilities for business use - as well as sharing tips on how this has been achieved successfully.
Usability & Effectiveness
We also looked at the relationship between usability and effectiveness in a particular channel, and whether decisions about which social media platform to use are related - at least partly - to which one a person finds easier to use!
From the replies, we can see that familiarity and an intuitive layout are important joint factors in usability.
This is an area we want to explore more in future, and we are planning a feature on the design and usability of social media sites.
We asked the question: which social media platform is most difficult to use for business and least appropriate for business use?
One respondent identified Facebook as both! Business using social media need to keep in mind where clients, customers and peers are, but usability and appropriateness are also important.
With this in mind, we will be writing more about how best to use these channels for business, focusing specifically on the problem area of Facebook.
Social Media Goals
In terms of goals for social media - why are we using it and what do we want to achieve - it seems that most of our readers are using it to network with other businesses, rather than as a customer service tool.
We also put this question forward to our followers on Twitter, and the general gist of replies was again that the focus of their efforts was on the importance of networking, sector influence and online presence.
This particular approach to using Twitter is one we share ourselves.
As @dmarneyma said 'For us, it's about bringing something useful to the conversation, and thereby connecting with everyone, including potential clients'.
In terms of measuring success or return on investment, readers are generally more focused on interaction much more than the volume of followers, and they are mostly using a separate analytics programme to measure this, rather than the in-built analytics programme of an individual social media platform.
Perhaps this indicates a familiarity with other analytics, or even a distrust of the sites' own analysis?
We are planning to do an article looking at the usefulness of the built-in analytics offered as part of a Facebook page, as well as what's available in the platforms that many people use to manage social media, like Hootsuite, for example.
There are many tools available out there to monitor social media interactions and home their effectiveness, and we will be gathering more data on those.
A big thank you to everyone who took part in our survey: it was great to have the opportunity to engage directly with our readers, and it's something we want to do again soon.
Our goal is to offer practical advice in these areas, as well as thinking more about issues of design, usability and the way we think about and use social media platforms.
If you have any further comments or suggestions related to this post, or the usability of social media in business mroe generally, please do contact us in the comments below, or via Twitter or Facebook.