8 steps to determining where to spend your time, money and energy
Getting the word out about your business on social media is crucial. The sheer abundance of websites out there means that it is harder for customers to find you, unless you go out and specifically target them. But, there are so many choices for social media platforms, and marketing seriously on all of them can be an intense drain on your resources. How do you determine which platforms are right for your business, your message, and your potential clients?
Use these 8 steps to determine where to spend your time, money and energy:
1. Read up on each platform. See what the experts are saying about what your type of business can gain from each platform. Find out where your customers are hanging out (yes, you need to do some homework) and what their purpose is in participating in each platform. Familiarize yourself with who is utilizing which platform (gender, age, income bracket) and make your determinations on where to focus based on who your potential clients are.
2. Competitor research. Where are your competitors or similar businesses doing their social media marketing? Where are they succeeding and where are they failing? Measure this by taking a look at their engagement – not how many fans or likes, but how many “are talking about this“. If your competitors are seeing engagement on certain platforms but not on others (lots of conversation on Facebook, for example, but no retweets or mentions on Twitter, for example) there is probably a reason for it. But keep in mind that if your competitor has a desultory Facebook page with very few fans, that just means appropriate effort hasn’t been made and does not reflect on the platform.
3. Check out the already existing groups and pages. In order to determine whether the users of a platform are interested in your niche, find out what they are already talking about. If there are many groups dedicated to your topic, it will be easy for you to market to these already existing audiences. If you have to build it all from scratch, you will need to invest more time and may not get the same results. Do a hashtag search on Twitter, for example, or a group search on LinkedIn to find out what conversations already exist surrounding your topic.
4. Determine what type of content you want to share. If you want to share visual content (pictures, infographics, your portfolio, examples of your work) your time may be better spent on networks dedicated to images such as Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook. If your content is mostly blogs or text with links, Twitter and LinkedIn are more conducive to that type of marketing. If you are interested in marketing via videos, consider Youtube and Vimeo.
5. Give lesser-known channels a chance. Some of the lesser-known social media channels can be great avenues for marketing. Yahoo and Google Groups, Tumblr and forums are examples of these kinds of channels. They may require a softer approach (less hard selling or self promotion) but can help you get the word out about your product or service. Search for existing platforms for your niche and determine whether you can provide value and market subtly at the same time.
6. Listen. Create accounts on the various platforms and set up searches for keywords, your brand name and other niche terms. Invest some time listening to the conversations going on and find out where the most active and relevant discussions are taking place.
7. Get involved. Start engaging with users, posting content and building a follower base on the platforms you have chosen (three maximum to establish proper engagement – more channels than that and you’re going to have to either outsource to a social media manager or dedicate an inordinate amount of your time to keep everything straight.) Allot a significant investment of time and energy into each platform. Read about best practices on each network and follow the unspoken rules of etiquette.
8. Assess the success of each platform. After about three months of consistent engagement and effort, it is possible to see where your efforts are paying off. Use the statistics the platforms provide as well as your website’s analytics software to assess whether your marketing efforts are bringing customers to your website, spreading brand awareness and positioning you as an expert in your field. For platforms which aren’t succeeding, either stop using them or change your strategy. On the other platforms, see what you are doing right and make a note to do more of it. Keep assessing periodically and continue to read up on changes and advances in each platform and on social media in general. Social media is a rapidly changing technology so it’s important to keep on top of developments.
Follow these 8 steps to choose a social media platform that works for your business. Proper research is a time drain in the short-term but will ultimately save you lots of time and frustration. You will be able to focus your energies on the platforms that can really help your business and make your brand stand out online.
Submitted by Hadassah