Everyone is jumping on the social media train these days, but many are doing it wrong.
What is wrong? Trying to be everywhere at once.
Social platforms differ in audience demographics, culture, and engagement. And to be efficient, it’s best to chose which ones fit your business type and master them before moving on.
Example, Pinterest is a social platform mainly comprised of women. Even though the male audience is growing, it’s still about 2/3 female. So if you have a construction business, this may not be one of the first social platforms to master. But if you sell men’s retail, it would be perfect because women enjoy shopping for the men in their lives.
I tell my clients that it’s best to choose 2-3 social platforms carrying a heavy majority of their target audience to start with, and then branching out when the time comes. This allows one to adequately grow, foster and maintain a consistent social presence.
It’s better to manage 2-3 social platforms with excellence than trying to establish credibility on every platform.
I do believe every industry type can gain success on every social platform. But it’s wise to narrow the field in the beginning unless you have the resources and money to do it correctly.
There are two truths when it comes to choosing social platforms for your business.
1. Where you spend the most time, is where you will be successful. Regardless of where that is.
2. Not every social network is worth your time. Choose wisely.
But the tough part will be choosing which platforms to start with.
To begin, research where your competitors are the most successful and where your target audience most hangs out? If you’re a lawyer, Pinterest will not be one of your core kickoff platforms. But if you are a photographer and don’t choose Pinterest – you’re missing out.
Example, one of my clients is a non-profit that offers fine art workshops located in the western North Carolina mountains. It’s a nonprofit with a tight budget, so they chose to start with two social platforms. For the industry type, I picked Facebook and Pinterest to be our initial platforms for the first 6-9 months because they both specialize in visual content and boast the largest target audience for the program. The director initially started a Twitter account, and although it’s a suitable platform for the arts, it will not reap the benefits of Facebook and Pinterest.
Let’s dive in a little deeper, and break down the top social platforms in general terms.
The largest social network. Facebook may be the exception to every rule solely because it wins out in warm bodies. Let’s face it, you may dislike Facebook, but every business type can make a happy, comfortable home on it.
It allows for video, photo, link and text updates, so there’s no boundaries on what type of content can be posted.
I’ve heard some people say Twitter is the online community for marketers and social media peeps. While there are a heavy load of marketers on Twitter, there is also a plethora of differing professionals.
It’s an incredible platform for networking, managing customer service issues, monitoring your brand, and is set to explode in 2015.
And with recent updates, it also shares rich videos, photos, text and article links.
Instagram is gaining major momentum these days, and the audience, once mostly young and inquisitive, is now more varied.
Think creatives galore – travel, art, fashion and photography.
But what is so addicting about Instagram is the ability to get personal. The video updates and private messaging features give businesses an even greater chance of sharing the human side of business and gaining credibility for being real.
Pro tip. Instagram accounts are best for those with great aesthetic appeal. If you’re selling spyware software – skip it to start. Instagram thrives on beautiful picture sharing.
But don’t underestimate it’s ability to bond with fans. My projection is that Instagram will be the biggest (in engagement) social platform of 2015.
Snapchat is the wild card right now for businesses.
Once the social platform for naughty teens, it now offers incredible possibilities for business. It currently has more potential for bigger brands, and still has some growing to do before all industry types can jump on board.
To understand how it can be used, think about a major brand like Target. If Target added a little yellow ghostman sticker to its store fronts, TV commercials, and magazine inserts offering special sale notifications – a bunch of people would start following them. Then the next time they needed to get rid of inventory, they could send out ONE message to all the followers and reap the benefits of big advertising.
It’s akin to the text message advertising that was making the rounds about a year ago, but FREE.
Still, restaurants could share a picture of delicious food on a slow night. Or hairstylists could upload a fancy new color/cut special. It has incredible potential.
LinkedIn in not an easy sell because spam sharks take advantage of groups and messages in this community. But it is worth your time if your business relates to the ‘drier’ sorts – marketing, finance, law, healthcare, etc.
It is full of professionals looking for the right hookup, and B2B sales rock out the LI community.
Pro Tip. Get involved with groups, but only join the private groups with high activity levels. Private groups are much better at keeping spam to a minimum.
When G+ was first released I was so excited. I stuck with the network for months – talking, generating discussions and ‘hanging out.’ But eventually I chose to move on.
That being said, there is now a thriving community on G+. These folks are sick of Facebook’s egotistical discussions and are interested in business. All types abound on G+, too – no snobs allowed.
However, having a GooglePlus account set up is basically a necessity these days. It boosts your business SEO, allows users to change the background setup on YouTube, and let’s face it – your biz photos/info can pop up in the most random places on Google.
It’s best to be proactive and set up a nice account.
Pinterest is the ridiculously addictive platform stealing the time, energy and sociability of women. No, I’m joking. However, it is very popular and only gaining traction in the social community.
Users share fashion, how-to’s, infographics, art, design, recipes, photos, travel – basically anything you can think of. It 100% relies on visual content and businesses can get very creative when it comes to explaining their brand.
It’s best for visually exciting businesses to take root in first. The “drier” industries will have to work harder to generate interest. I’ve seen marketing firms have a tough time gathering followers while design galleries effortlessly rack up a devoted audience.
None of these social networks are easy to break into anymore.
But time and consistency are your best allies when it comes to being successful in social media. Research, choose your social networks, develop a plan and stick to it.
And when in doubt, ask those who have a better grasp on the networks than you do. Don’t be afraid to reach out and get information – it’s what social networking is all about.