Facebook has a proven track record of getting marketers a great ROI. Twitter is where all the media tastemakers hang out.
But hold on – want to attract a young audience? Better get on Snapchat. Or Instagram. But don’t count out the power of social video on Vine or YouTube. Or the reliably engaged, eager audience that still make lists every day on Pinterest.
Is your business already communicating on Slack? Do you have employees who are active Redditors?
We could go on, but we think you probably get the gist by now: There are a ton of social platforms available to brands and marketers in 2016. So many, in fact, that it can be overwhelming, even to the experts.
Are you feeling inundated with options? Aimlessly adrift in a sea of social channels? You’re not alone. For those of us who create, publish, and share content, “platform overload” isn’t just a fantasy, it’s a fact of life. And, as “overload” causes marketers to either spread their fishing net too thin or else stay out of the water entirely, it’s killing opportunities - to create valuable PR and brand recognition, to generate leads, to make sales.
The good news? Platform overload doesn’t need to happen to you. Take a deep breath and get ready to dive in; here’s how to cut through the clutter and find the platform strategies that will create the most value for you.
First, Rethink Your Goals and Resources
Social platforms do a lot of things. But what, exactly, do you want them to do for you?
Before you go further with any platform, consider your goals. Why are you making yourself present on social media? Are you trying to encourage users to engage and share your content? Are you using social media as a gallery space, to highlight the visual aspects of your beautiful products? Do you want to use it to make yourself directly accessible to your users and audiences?
All of these goals are connected to different platforms: Pinterest is primed for sharing in the form of “re-pins,” Instagram is perfect for feeding audiences visual content, and Twitter and Facebook both allow direct interaction with your community of users anywhere in the world. It goes back to the old Marshall McLuhan saying: “The medium is the message.” The very nature of the social platform should be directly connected to your goals. Take a good long look at both in order to make the informed decision about where to spend your time and money.
And speaking of time and money, remember that no budget is infinite. We all want to have active, round-the-clock workers devoted to each social platform, but it’s simply not a reality for 99% of businesses. So think big, but think realistically. If your social media budget is effectively nil, consider investing in Twitter, where you can build a following and spread your message without investing in advertising; on the other hand, if you have more money to spend, you may want to look into Facebook Ads or Instagram Ads, which offer powerful targeting and remarketing tools.
Then, Consider Your Audience
We’ll say it again: The medium is the message. And with social media, that means that the currency, the audience, and the tools all trace back to real people. You can’t leave them out of the equation!
So, before running all over town, think about and research your people, your ideal users. Who should be buying your product? Where do they live? What kinds of content are they consuming online? And, perhaps above all, where and how are they consuming it? On mobile? Over email? Through Twitter?
Understand who your users are and what they’re looking for and you’ll be able to get a thorough sense of what social channels they’ll be using and how they’ll be using them. Don’t cast a net and expect your audience to wander in: Go to where they are. Fill the niche and apply your resources to the channels and users that will give you the highest value for your investment.
For some ideas about where to research demographic information across platforms, HubSpot has a few handy resources available here. For more on how to get started with active social listening, check out our blog on the subject.
From There, Prioritize
You know the why, the who, and the where. Now all that’s left is to determine the how. Maybe you want to get started with only one to two core platforms. Maybe the best course of action is to engage several social channels all at once. Look at the data and trends you’ve observed and put all of it together.
And, of course, there’s another major step you can take when it comes time to rethink or execute a social strategy: Go Geek. Our team has experience working with businesses of all sizes on just about every content distribution platform you can imagine, from blog pages to email to all of the latest trends in social media.
Social media is a great tool for your business – but for us, it’s a passion, a hobby, and a skill. Why not focus on what you do best, and leave the wonkiness to us? Curious about our services? Ready to take the next step for your brand? Drop us a line whenever you’re ready to get the conversation started!