Social media marketing used to be as simple as logging onto Facebook and starting a dedicated page for your business. Then, sending the occasional tweet got added into the list of best practices. Soon, it grew to include YouTube videos, Instagram images, vines, Google + circles, and half a dozen other things that were classified as “must-do” activities.
Now, we’ve gotten to the point where social media is more important than ever, while at the same time being too big and unwieldy for most small businesses to manage on their own. Fortune 500s and large marketing agencies might have the time to participate on every social network on a daily basis, but you probably don’t (and frankly, neither do we).
That means you have to make some decisions about where to spend your time, money, and energy. So, do you know which social channels actually matter to your business, and which ones represent a waste of effort?
If you aren’t sure, then know millions of others are in the same boat. But, getting to the heart of the issue isn’t as difficult as you might think. Instead, you just have to keep a few things in mind…
Be Present Everywhere, But Active Where it Counts
Because setting up profiles on any of the major social is simple and completely free, it only makes sense to ensure your business is represented on all of them. Take a couple of hours to sign up for any social platforms you haven’t joined yet, and keep entering information until your accounts are complete – including photos, links back to your website, and summary descriptions. That way, your business will at least be present on any network where a customer goes looking for you.
Once those profiles are set up, however, don’t feel obligated to update them every day. Instead, put your time and energy into the two or three social platforms that are likely to lead you to the biggest payoff. To decide which ones those might be, let’s move to our next point.
Listen to Your Customers, While Following the Numbers
An increasingly-common mistake in social media marketing is for business owners to pay attention to the networks they like to use personally. If someone interacts with their friends on Facebook, for example, that might lead them to decide they should do most of their marketing there, as well.
As understandable as that first instinct is, it’s better to listen to your customers. Ask them which social networks they prefer, and why. You might discover that their preferences are different than your own, and that it would be much easier for them to give you recommendations and referrals if you were more active on their favorite social platforms instead of the ones you’re used to using.
Don’t be content to simply ask buyers what they like, however. Study your web analytics to see where your visits and conversions are coming from. If it turns out one social channel is giving you better results than you expected, start paying more attention and see if you can maximize the return on your time and energy.
Play to Your Own Strengths, and Then Just Play
Although it’s best to let your customers dictate social media preferences in general, there is something to be said for using the websites and apps that are a natural fit for your marketing style. For example, a gym owner who posts motivational pictures might gravitate towards Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, whereas a professional consultant might get more mileage from LinkedIn and YouTube. If one social network is a perfect fit for your content, use it and see if you can develop a following.
Beyond that, it’s a good idea to just play and experiment from time to time. Keep trying new things on new social networks and see what happens. You might just discover that you have a knack for using one you hadn’t tried in the past – or that there is a whole new pool of customers waiting for you in a place where you least expected to find them.