It’s one of the questions I get most frequently – at cocktail parties, at networking events, even at family gatherings – business owners will inevitably ask me: What social media channels should I use for my business? It’s a question that all companies struggle with when jumping into social media. We know we have to do it, but we need it to work. Therefore, if we can avoid wasting time on channels that don’t matter, and just jump right onto those that will make a huge difference in helping to grow our business… well, that would be great. Ah, if it were only that easy.
Because as much as we all (myself included) wish that there was a formula to follow, a fail-safe set of rules that we could comply with to produce magical results… there just isn’t. And the most honest answer to the question of which social media channels you should choose is: It depends.
Know Your Audience
In order to know which social media channels to use, you have to know which ones your target audience is using. You can create really great content for Instagram, but if your prospects aren’t on Instagram, it’s unlikely that your efforts will bring in any business.
The first step is to define your target audience. We all have that one client that we love. If we had 10, or 20, or 100 more just like them, business would be great. That’s the client I want you to profile. Is it a man or a woman? How old are they? What social media channels do they like to use? (If you don’t know, it’s OK to ask – perhaps consider a client survey!)
Next, spend some time researching the demographics of each social media channel. Where does your audience fit? You can find out information from your current clients by polling them, but you also want to set yourself up to have the best possible chance of interacting with new prospects online.
Now that you have some ideas about where your ideal clients could be hanging out, you’ll know where to place your business in order to engage them.
While you are spending some time getting to know your target audience, take a quick look in the mirror. Because knowing yourself – your strengths, your weaknesses, your current bandwidth – is going to be crucial to your social media success.
Social is only effective if you are consistent with it. Posting great content for a few weeks and then taking a break because you got too busy is never going to yield the results you’re looking for. In most cases, to get the best ROI from your channels, you are going to have to give them daily attention. That’s right, daily. You need to be posting, responding to comments, and interacting with other people’s content on a frequent basis in order to get traction on social media. Luckily, there is a way to do social media in 15 minutes a day.
So, be honest with yourself. Do you hate to write? Maybe you shouldn’t start a blog. Can’t stand the way you look on video? YouTube may not be the right place to begin. Think Twitter is confusing and overwhelming and, well, dumb? I would suggest that instead of forging boldly ahead because you think you have to, you pick a channel that you find a little more palatable, and start honing your skills there.
Not every social media channel is a fit for every business… and not every social media channel is a fit for every business owner. And that’s OK. Social media is a large collection of tools and you don’t have to (nor should you!) try to master them all at once. There may be multiple ways to achieve the results you are looking for.
Look at where your audience is spending time, and choose one channel that you feel some level of comfort with. (Or, get some training, so you can make a better choice.) Start small. Master that one channel, and build on it when you’re ready. Social media is a long-term strategy. The key is taking the first step.
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