Social media is only a part of the whole marketing mix and before you pick channels, you need to look at your overall marketing strategy and decide what you want to achieve from your social media presence.
We could list the main social media platforms and tell you to be on all of them, but the real answer to which ones you should be using is ‘it depends.’ If you’re terrible at photography and really don’t enjoy it, then there’s not a lot of point in joining Instagram, for example. If your audience is made up of people who prefer to read information and aren’t very visual, then the chances are YouTube won’t work for you. The mix that’s right for your business is as individual as you are.
You might want to use social media to build your brand, drive traffic back to your website, generate new leads, engage with your customers, grow your email list, or all of the above, and if you don’t know why you’re there and don’t have a plan, there’s a good chance you won’t stick to it.
One of the key things with any social platform is consistency. To be a success on social media, you need to post regularly, engage with your followers, reply to messages and posts, and be creative on an ongoing basis. Without a plan and a good reason for doing all that work, it would be far too easy to let things slide, and followers won’t stick around for long if you’re not posting great content and replying to them when they contact.
Before you start with any kind of social media, know who you are aiming at and have a long term plan for how you are going to reach them and what sort of quality content you are going to post on a consistent basis.
Once you’ve covered all of that in your marketing strategy, then it’s time to look at which social media channels you want to use.
Do your research
Where does your target market hang out? Which platforms do they use? Find that out first and post on those channels. If your target market is B2C, it’s likely you won’t get good results from using LinkedIn, where it’s mostly B2B. Research the stats for the main social media platforms and find out who their main audiences are, because that will also shape which channels you want to choose.
Look at what channels your competitors are on, what kind of content they are posting and what gets the best engagement from their followers. If you analyse their results from social media, you can take the best performing parts of their strategy and adapt them to work for you.
Finally, look at your own website analytics and see which channels you get the most visitors from. Start by focusing on those and you should be able to build your audience rapidly.
Don’t try to be on all channels
Even the largest companies with huge budgets for social media don’t attempt to be on every possible platform. It’s a lot of work to be successful even on only one social platform, never mind 10 or 20.
The most successful businesses focus on where they will get the best results, not on being everywhere. Spreading yourself too thin is a great way to burn through your budget really quickly, and exhaust yourself.
Start with one channel where you know your audience is, get really good on that, build your following there, and then expand to another platform. You’ll already have loyal fans who will follow you to the new platform, and the new platform will allow you to reach different segments of your market and to try new approaches with different styles of content to suit the new platform.
As with any marketing technique, keep checking your results and analytics and testing new ways to connect with your audience. When you find something that really works, do more of it, and if you find that one channel doesn’t work for you, then don’t feel you have to keep going with it. There’s no law that says you have to slog away at something that’s not working. Drop it and focus on the platforms where your business is thriving.