The One Question You Need to Answer Before Marketing on Social Media

“Which social network is best for my business?”

If you’re asking that question, you’re already doing something right. Why? Because you’ve recognized that you simply can’t be everywhere.

Yes, technically your business could be on every social network. But why would you want it to be? There’s a ridiculous amount of information out there about social media marketing. It certainly gives you the impression that each social network is as important as the last. So it’s normal to think your business needs to have a healthy presence on every corner of the Internet.

But what usually happens when you commit to too much? When you spread yourself too thin?

If you’re anything like me, the outcome suffers. You can’t deliver. Even if you do, it’s not your best work – and what’s the point of a mediocre strategy? It’s a complete waste of your time. You aren’t going to get traffic and sales with all those flimsy social profiles.

So focus your time and your energy. Put together a great strategy, but start with just one or two social networks. Remember: you can always add onto the plan later! The most important thing for now is to make a plan and then implement it on a consistent basis.

(Does the thought of crafting an entire social media strategy make you want to run for the hills? Don’t stress –  check out Social Brilliant instead.)

Back to the original question – since you have to be selective, which social network(s) should you focus on for your biz?

98% of the time, the answer is very simple: whichever one you’ll actually use!

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Stop Listening to Bad Social Media Advice

I’m well aware that this is NOT what I’m supposed to say about your social media strategy. The “accepted” position is that you need to research your target market and figure out where they’re spending their time online. Then you should focus your marketing efforts there.

But I say, IGNORE THIS. (For now.)

I know, I know – that whole “accepted” position isn’t inherently bad advice. The problem comes when you try to implement it. You do your research and identify the one or two platforms you need to focus on. Then you spend a week doing a good job of posting there and increasing engagement.

Week 2, you start to lose steam and you engage less consistently. By Week 3, your posts have practically disappeared.

Now, if you’re in a position to hire someone to help you handle your social media marketing, awesome. Make sure that person is someone who’s adept at using the social network where your target market is hanging out.

But if you’re on your own for now, then stop trying to do what you’re supposed to do. Instead, figure out which social network(s) you can actually get down with, and try to make it a fun spot for you to hang out as a business owner. Then forget about the rest.

You’ll be surprised at how this decision changes the results of your social media marketing. Here’s an example:

“No more Twitter!”

I was chatting with a friend about her business recently when she shared her big realization of the month: she was going to completely scratch Twitter from her social media strategy. She had put maaaaany hours into Twitter for the first couple years of her business. Even though she had built up a healthy following, it was always a chore. She was constantly abandoning it, prioritizing other things instead.

Instagram, on the other hand, had quickly became her favorite. Since she was actively engaged there in her personal life, she ended up consistently using it to market her business. Instagram, the social network that doesn’t even let you add clickable links below your images, was landing her lots of new clients.

Just by focusing more of her energy on Instagram, my friend was seeing real results in her business. More engagement, more traffic, more subscribers, and LOTS more revenue. That’s exactly what the right social media marketing strategy can do for your business. Twitter wasn’t yielding those results, because she didn’t actually enjoy it. The plan got tweaked, and suddenly it was a lot more effective.

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What Makes My Social Media Strategy Work

Now personally, I couldn’t be less interested in marketing on Instagram. Sure, it’s extremely popular, but that shouldn’t be the reason you include it in your social media strategy! Since my products aren’t very visual, it doesn’t make sense for me to spend my time on Instagram. I like checking in on what the people I follow are posting, but I’m not spending my free time actively engaged there.

Twitter, on the other hand, is my jam. It took some getting used to back in the beginning, but now I love the ability to interact with just about anyone. Getting in touch with people in my industry, especially with lots of influencers, allowed me to really create my own fame. Now it’s a place where I can easily engage with my customers and community. Because of the strategy and automation I have in place, the time I spend live on Twitter is all about real interactions.

Facebook is another place where I enjoy spending my marketing time – it makes sense for me and my business, and in large part because I actually use it.

The general feeling is that your business HAS to be on Facebook. If it isn’t, it’s like it doesn’t exist – right? It’s that kind of attitude that has people spending all their time on marketing tactics that just don’t work. If you’re comfortable building up your presence on Facebook, stick with it. Worried about keeping up with its ever-changing algorithms? Put an extra emphasis on getting your fans to join your email list. That way, you can be sure to have a presence in their inbox in case you aren’t being shown in their News Feed.

If marketing your biz on Facebook is just a constant headache, it’s going to come across in what you post – so don’t bother. You can leave your own Facebook party! You can always come back to it later when you hire someone who’s got a better knack for it than you do.

The Exceptions

I did say that 98% of businesses can plan their social media marketing strategy around the social networks they actually use. There are, however, a couple exceptions.

For example, you love Pinterest. Your ideal customers, however, are male lawyers ages 45-65. Should you be focusing your efforts on Pinterest? Almost definitely not. Those lawyer guys just aren’t spending their time there! You’ll have a VERY hard time making much of an impact with them, no matter how hard you’re pinning.

To some extent, you do need to take your target marketing into account when mapping out your strategy. I know I told you to ignore that advice, but we both know you can’t forget about who you’re targeting altogether. The good news is that actual research will usually uncover more than one spot where your prospects are hanging out online. That means you get something of a choice (yay!), so try things out for a month or two, and see if there’s one that you end up particularly enjoying.

And just like with any other marketing strategy, don’t forget to measure your results! Going in and looking at the outcome of your social media marketing should be a regular part of your strategy. I mean it – put it on the calendar to check out your traffic sources and conversions in Google Analytics. (Not sure how to see that data? Grab this free Google Analytics Cheat Sheet and learn everything you need to know.)

With all that in mind – the networks you use, the ones that your audience uses, and the way that you use them – what are you going to change about your current strategy?

Tell me about the social network(s) that you’re putting front and center in terms of marketing this year. Bonus points if you leave a link to one of your profiles, so everyone can check you out and see what kind of progress you make in the coming months – don’t be shy, now!

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About Laura Roeder

Laura Roeder is a social media marketing expert who gives businesses of all sizes the tools they need to make their mark on the web. She is the creator of the social media scheduling software Edgar, as well as social media marketing web courses like Creating Fame and Social Brilliant.

Comments

  1. Great Post Laura! My favorite is Twitter all the way; and I agree with you that it depends also on your company goals, target public and how many time and money we can invest. I’m sharing this! Thanks :)

  2. I think this is good advice. I’m trying to figure out social media since I hadn’t used any of it until about 5 months ago. I’m trying to figure out how to use Fb, Twitter, and Etsy right now. I have a feeling Twitter isn’t likely to be a big help to me and have been considering whether I’m better off spending time elsewhere. I’ve done a fair amount of Pinterest, but that’s not leading anywhere.
    I expect Fb may get me some better connections. I am trying out a Blog too, but this doesn’t feel natural. So we’ll see. how that runs. http://treefrogarts.wordpress.com/
    Cheers,
    Looking forward to learning more.
    Deb

  3. Nice perspective – a social media strategy for actual humans! Perhaps welcome news for introverts too.

    My main one is twitter.com/messagewords. I’ve dabbled with Google+, and I’m using pinterest.com/messagewords as a repository for useful stuff I find around the place. I occasionally wonder about doing a Facebook page for the business, but a lot about how Facebook works annoys me so it always gets put off. Slideshare may be one to explore.

  4. I think it’s a smart idea to focus your time and energy on a handful of social networks instead of trying to have an active presence on a whole bunch of them.

    After some experimentation, I’ve found that Pinterest and Twitter are the two that work best for me, so I’ve dropped most of the others.

    Pinterest is where I get the most shares/click-throughs. Which makes sense, given that the audience for my baby name blog is mostly women, especially mothers/expectant mothers.

    Twitter, though, is the network I personally prefer. It’s more newsy and informational, and there’s a lot more sarcasm over there (at least in my experience).

    But expectant moms who need baby names aren’t hanging out on Twitter cracking John Boehner jokes; they’re on Pinterest sharing recipes and inspirational quotes. So my goal for this year is to use Twitter a bit less and Pinterest a bit more.

    Here’s my Pinterest page: http://www.pinterest.com/nancysbabynames/
    Here’s my Twitter page: https://twitter.com/nancycc