Question: How do I “Social Media”?
Question from a Business Owner: There are so many social media options. How do I choose what to use and where to focus my limited time?
There are indeed a great many options when it comes to social media. It’s a daunting task for anyone starting a business or working as a solopreneur. Everyone tells you your business needs to have a social media presence, which brings up frightening thoughts of you, alone, having to post regularly on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, TikTok, SnapChat, Pinterest, etc.
The great part about this question is the understanding that you don’t need to be on them all. Think of social media as another form of advertising (though unless you are running ads, you aren’t paying for this advertising). When you choose where you spend your advertising dollars, you choose the places that will give you the most bang for your buck. You don’t try to advertise anywhere and everywhere anybody will see you.
Social Media can be looked at the same way.
First, identify what your goals are on social media.
It seems obvious (you want to be found!), but the answer is not always that black and white. Some potential goal examples (for B2C models and B2B models alike) are sales, brand building, list building, networking, reputation management, and recruitment. Those are just some of the possibilities. You need to know what your goal is in order to know who you might be speaking to, and what kind of content you can provide.
Second, you need to identify who your target audience is.
Hopefully you’ve gone through this process in developing a business plan or planning your next product launch. You may not have one target, you may have a few, but use this information to develop a few personas–or hypothetical ideal customers–that you can hang up on your wall and always remember ‘that’s who I’m trying to reach.’ Make note of a few demographics and psychographics for these personas. What age group are they? What’s their income? Where do they live? What interests do they have? What makes them happy? What do they buy? Where do they spend their time? Give your personas fake names, maybe even a fake headshot, but identify them and put them somewhere so you will always be tripping over them. Just like a bullseye, they are your target.
What platform is your target audience using?
Now that you know who you are speaking to, and why, the next step is to identify what social media platforms your target audiences are on. There are lots of statistics available about who is on what platform. The answer to that question does change over time, so make sure you review your strategy yearly. Here’s a useful link from Sprout Social with some demographic information for seven of the top social platforms. For instance, if you are targeting teens with your product, you will see that usage of Facebook among teens has dropped. Therefore, you can deduce that Facebook is probably not the best use of your time on social media.
Be Small and Mighty
It’s also important to remember that there are other platforms out there beyond the big guns that we are all used to. This list from Buffer highlights the 21 top social platforms. You’ll notice that number of China’s most popular platforms make an appearance on this list. This is important to note because if you are marketing to a geographic area outside of the US, you should pay attention to what platforms are popular there, which you can do with an easy Google Search.
There are also many niche social platforms. For instance, Ravelry is a popular social network for knitters and crocheters. This list from Influencer Marketing Hub details out 75+ platforms, many of which are niche-focused. While you’ll certainly reach a larger audience on a platform like Instagram, LinkedIn, or Twitter, you may find that you will reach a more specific audience on a niche platform.
Content Creation and Curation is Crucial
Once you’ve narrowed down your list to hopefully a select few, the last question you can ask yourself is what kind of content can I reasonably expect to develop and curate for the platform. As an example, If you’ve narrowed it down to Facebook or Instagram, and you plan on sharing links to expert articles you’ve written often, Instagram may not be the best place for you, since it’s image-focused, and you can’t include links in the posts. Each platform has a different ideal type of content that engages its users best. Make sure your goals and your ability to create unique content matches up with the platform/s you plan to use.
Lastly, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Using social media as a marketing tool and getting good results does take time and effort. If you choose to start on multiple platforms, you may not have the time to nurture those profiles well enough for there to be good results. If you have multiple platforms on your list based on all the recommendations above, start with one, and get good at it. Build up a winning strategy, and don’t tackle a new platform until you feel really comfortable with the first one.
TIP: Running multiple social media profiles? Don’t post the same content to each profile! What you say and post on Twitter should be altered from what you say and post on Facebook and on Instagram and LinkedIn and… well, you get the picture. When you post on different platforms, remember those are different audiences who engage with the content differently, and you should tailor your content to that platform and audience. This is yet another reason why you don’t want to bite off more than you can chew!
One final note
There are many social media tools available to help automate your process and post to multiple platforms at once (At KDD, we are fans of Loomly). These are great for when you are comfortable and understand the process of social media. I don’t recommend jumping into using automation tools until you know the platform you are using well, and have a good strategy for posting and content. The one thing these automation tools do not do is develop your content for you!
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