I was reading an article that said the term “social media” is outdated because users don’t think of Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook as a collective. People don’t say, “I use social media” they say, “I like Twitter.” Or Snapchat or Vimeo or whatever.
I don’t fully agree – I think the term “social media” is out there often enough that it’s not confusing anyone. BUT it is true that no one needs to use every social media network there is. Nor is that possible.
While we can’t be present everywhere, we do all need to be present somewhere. Rather like networking, your target market is probably not at conferences, marathons, volunteer events, AND the bar. But they’ll be at one or two, so it makes sense to visit once in a while and get to know them.
Let’s talk a little more about that.
Why You Need Social Media
Are you tired of this reason yet? I know I am. But it’s still true. Just as clients expect businesses to have a website, they expect them to have at least one social media account. Preferably Facebook. I don’t necessarily think Facebook is the best social network out there, but it is the most widely adopted and therefore expected, even if you don’t maximize your usage.
I was going to say “community” but there are really several parts to community so we’ll start with your audience. You want to reach out to potential clients or customers, and social media is one of the best ways to do that. You can get quirky on Tumblr like Denny’s, or play on their emotions like Pampers.
Whichever direction you decide to go, picking a tone that appeals to your audience is important and will help establish your company as one they want to work with/buy from.
It’s not just about potential clients! Rather like traditional face-to-face networking events, social media works better when you’re trying to make connections instead of just selling constantly. You can build a referral network, get to know (and learn from!) your peers, and establish yourself as an authority within your field.
Target Market Research
How clear is your understanding of your target market? Do you know exactly what their needs are and whether or not your product or service is a good fit? By taking the time to get to know them on social media, you’ll learn more about who they are as individuals, and you’ll also build the perfect forum to start asking questions. You can run surveys, giveaways, or outright ask your followers what they’re looking for.
Yes, making the sale is part of what social media is all about but notice that I put this reason last. It’s a mistake to just make a Facebook or Instagram account and start sharing promotions. Believe me, I know. At that point you haven’t had a chance to build an audience who’s interested in your business nor have you found out what they’re interested in.
How to Decide Which Social Sites to Use
I am by no means a social media guru! But I have played around with several social accounts and I keep myself educated on the current trends. So I can tell you what I’ve learned.
I definitely struggle with this sometimes, but I’m starting to gravitate towards LinkedIn and Facebook. At one point I did it all! In addition to those two, I also used Instagram, Twitter, and Google+, and I was stressing myself out researching Snapchat and YouTube.
It was a lot, it was stressful, and I didn’t manage all of them well, nor did they provide much ROI since I couldn’t put a lot of energy into any of them. Cutting back was a good decision, for my marketing strategy and for my sanity. But how did I decide what to cut? Here’s the questions I asked myself to figure out which channels to focus on:
Where is my audience?
Ideally I’d be talking to other small business owners. The ones I’m meeting locally, in networking events, are almost all on LinkedIn. Some have Facebook business pages. Few have Instagram or Twitter. So, as much as LinkedIn doesn’t necessarily get my heart pounding – I believe it’s a good use of my time.
What level of effort am I willing to expend?
I can barely manage to post 3-4 times a week. So for me, networks that require daily or hourly posting are out. My occasional tweets are simply drowned in the barrage of information that flows across Twitter constantly. I do a little better on Instagram, but finding attractive content to post several times a week? It’s tough. And I’m not really a fan of the network’s seemingly favorite content: selfies. I’ve noticed I always get the most engagement on photos of myself but it confuses me and I’m not ready to make that my primary content.
What do I enjoy the most?
Writing! I’ve actually begun experimenting with Facebook live recently and I find I enjoy it more than I would have expected. But it still doesn’t spark the same passion and fulfillment that writing does. I’ll be honest – I don’t know how effective this blog is or how many people are reading. I know it’s a positive for my SEO, so that’s something, but the primary reason I continue is because it’s my favorite medium.