Defining the Purposes behind Social Media Platforms: Part I

by Michelle Salater on July 16, 2010


Are you confused about how to act on various social media platforms? Perhaps you’re unsure of the purpose of each of these platforms. Well, if you want to get out of the dark, you must understand the attitudes behind each of these platforms because these are the attitudes that will dictate your behavior and the content you post.

Noting the varying unwritten behavioral guidelines on each social media site is one of the most beneficial ways to spend your designated business marketing time. When you blindly jump into a social media platform, even if you think you have an idea of the purpose of the platform, you may begin to notice that no one is talking or responding to you. Although it takes time to establish rapport on social media platforms, if you get a feeling that people are ignoring you or completely disregarding your responses, you might want to consider taking a step back and observing for a bit.

If you choose to ignore the warning signs you receive from other social media users and continue to act in a manner inconsistent with the social media attitudes, you may be at great risk for creating a poor name for yourself or your company.  When you haphazardly post, you’re not only wasting your time, but you run the risk of tarnishing your brand image.

It’s important to keep in mind that most social media platforms are not designed for companies to make sales. Rather, they’re used as a collaborative hub between consumers, business owners, peers, and key influencers looking to share valuable information and talk about topics of interest. Your website is your main direct-sales-generating tool—not social media platforms.

See below for a spotlight on the various types of attitudes seen on Facebook and LinkedIn and tips on how to behave on these platforms:


Words to describe the attitudes: Casual, friendly, open-minded, link-oriented, fun, interactive, real-time updates, personable

The main purpose of Facebook for businesses: To establish casual relationships with peers, key influencers, and targeted consumers; to have conversations and share information with these individuals; and to gain exposure for your brand and your expertise.

Behavior tips: When interacting on Facebook, don’t be afraid to “like” someone’s post, comment on a post, send a personal message to someone you’d like to introduce yourself to, or invite key influencers to be your friend. Facebook users, for the most part, are open and willing to share and talk about everything from various interests to industry news.

Because of Facebook’s friendly and inviting atmosphere, the conversations that occur are less professional and rigid and more real, conversational, and personable. For this reason, don’t try to put on your best professional attitude; injecting your personality is the best way to attract friends and followers on Facebook.

Also, keep in mind that posts should not be sales oriented. We often go by the following rule of thumb: 20% of posts should be about your company and 80% should be information you receive from others. Whether you share informative articles you find online, blog posts, or videos, your posts should always be valuable and designed to build a connection with other Facebook users.


Words to describe the attitudes: Selective, professional, business-oriented, informative

The main purpose of LinkedIn for businesses: To establish business relationships and possible collaborations or partnerships.

Behavior tips: One of the best ways to describe LinkedIn members is “selective.” Unless you personally know the person you wish to connect with, you should not attempt to request connections with random people. This is often viewed as impolite and equivalent to spam.

If you do, however, want to connect with someone whom you do not have any third party connections with, you may do so, but with caution. Don’t merely send the person a generic message stating, “Hi, John, I’d love to connect with you.”—probably not going to happen if John has any rapport in LinkedIn or the business world. Rather, send John a personal message introducing yourself, telling him why you are interested in connecting, and possibly commenting on John’s company, website, or blog. The more personable your message, the more likely John will consider adding you to his connections.

In terms of interacting with others on LinkedIn, visit LinkedIn’s Q & A section. Here, you can answer questions related to your industry, or ask other professionals questions that you might have about their industry. In the Questions area, you will see a list of questions related to your industry or interests that others in your network have expressed. When you answer a question with valuable tips and advice, you’re showing others that you are active in your industry, willing to share advice, and highly knowledgeable.

You may also ask questions directed toward a certain group of industry professionals. For example, let’s say you own an eco-tourism outfitter company and want to know the basic elements for writing an effective press release. You may categorize your question based on professionals who will most likely have the answer you’re looking for.

Did you find this post helpful? If so, let us know in our comments section, and stay tuned for Part II of Defining the Purpose behind Social Media Platforms.


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