Do you ever feel this sense of angst over deciding where to spend your social media marketing time and resources? There are literally hundreds of social media sites to choose from – sites from the big guys like Facebook down to small, very niche-oriented platforms. You will never be able to create and effectively manage a profile on every single site – you may not even be able to handle the total number of sites used by your target market. That’s why it’s crucial to identify the most effective and most active social media networks for engaging with your prospects and customers.
A Breakdown of the Different Types of Social Media
General Sites – General sites are ones where people typically go to hang out and connect with friends. Think Facebook and Google+.
Microblogging – Microblogging is simply short blog posts. The two most popular microblogging sites are Twitter and Tumblr.
Blogs – Since you’ve arrived here, you probably already have an idea of what a blog is. Blogs are considered a form of social media that allows businesses and individuals to publish content, as well as comment on content that others have published. You can choose a self-hosted blog, or use a platform like Blogger or WordPress.com.
Video Sites – Obviously, video sites are ones where you share video! The most popular is YouTube, but there is also Vimeo. Even Flickr now offers video uploading.
Coupon and Check-in Sites – Sites that allow users to check in, write reviews, and get coupons also represent another potential social media channel. These include Groupon, Yelp, CityPages, and Foursquare.
Visually Oriented Social Media –These include image-oriented sites like Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, Vine, and Flickr.
Music and Entertainment Sites – If you a band or an aspiring recording artist, sites like MySpace and Band Camp are specially designed for posting and sharing audio files.
Professional Networking Sites – Sites such as LinkedIn, Biznik, and Upspring are primarily B2B sites used for professional networking or recruiting.
Finally, there are niche-specific social media sites based around the common interests of a specific group.
Essential Social Media
There are just some social media platforms that are essential no matter what industry you serve, no matter what field you are in. The three I recommend that every business consider in its essentials list are:
- Facebook — it’s the biggest social network in the world, and it attracts people from all walks of life. It’s highly likely that your target audience is on Facebook. There may be some very specific business verticals/instances where Facebook may not make sense. For those, Twitter or LinkedIn could be your preferred channel over Facebook.
- YouTube — people are spending more and more time viewing video online, and YouTube is one of the most popular destinations for this activity. YouTube allows you to create short videos for demonstrating your product and educating and informing your customers.
- A Blog — A blog is not just a way to connect with and inform your customers — it’s also a huge benefit to your search engine optimization. Fresh, quality content will help your site rank better.
Some Things to Consider
What is the site’s philosophy? Does it pertain to your business? For example, Facebook is great for reaching everyday consumers from a variety of walks of life. LinkedIn, on the other hand, is a site where professionals network. Twitter is for real-time news. Does the social media platform’s main use suit your business?
Do the features and characteristics of the site meet your needs? For example, if you need to broadcast video conferences or live events, Google Plus offers the Hangouts feature. The 140-character limitation of Twitter may make it unsuitable for your business if you have to share complex messages on a regular basis.
Where do your current customers hangout online? Ask your current customers about where they might like to engage with you online. Send a simple survey (try Wufoo.com — it’s a free survey tool), and ask what sites they are most active on. You can also look at your analytics data from Google Analytics, Addthis or other service you may use, to see where customers may be currently sharing your links.
Each new social media platform you choose takes another chunk of time out of your day. The best practice is to start with one site, get it rolling, and then move on to the next. Don’t sign up for too many at once, or you may spread yourself thin. Another option is to outsource your social media marketing to a consultant or agency like Jackson Marketing Services. This option allows you to focus on managing your business while we help you grow your online and in-store traffic.