If you're not personally active with social media, how do you figure out which social network to focus on for your business?
After all, there are so many social media networks and you can't possibly do them all. You don't want to, either, since that would either send you to the loony bin or distract you completely from running your business.
At the same time, there's plenty of noise trying to guilt you into jumping on the social bandwagon.
You Can't Ignore Social Networking For Business
Now, it's important to be aware of what's going on and that's where articles such as The World's 21 Most Important Social Media Sites and Apps in 2015 are helpful.
It's even more important to stay closely focused on your business and your customers and to remain every vigilant so you understand where they go for information and education, and how social networks fit into their lives.
Take for example an article from MarketingSherpa titled Social Media Marketing Chart: Engagement and reach of top eight social networks which explains,
"It doesn’t matter that Facebook reaches 81 percent of the total U.S. digital population if customers don’t want to use it to interact with your product. For example, if you have a B2B service, perhaps your prospective customers don’t want to hear about it during Facebook time when their main focus is seeing pictures of the grandkids and sharing their trip to Yosemite.
Perhaps, even though LinkedIn only has about 1.7 billion total minutes of time spent on the site, those are rich minutes focused on solving business problems by networking and finding the right information to overcome their pain points. And for this reason, your brand should focus on LinkedIn."
The article urges readers to look past the numbers and focus instead on understanding your customers. The biggest network isn't necessarily the best one to focus on.
You can't ignore social networks, but you should be strategic and thoughtful about becoming immersed in social networking for business so the effort your put in delivers results. You may decide to establish profiles for your company on the major networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+ Local), and only intend to focus on one with community building.
To pick the right social networks to focus on for your business, you need to understand where your customers go online, what they care about and how they express those interests. Do they actually go to social networks to discuss problems you have solutions to, or do they focus on other topics that you might contribute to so you've developed credibility that they will respond to later on when they do have a problem?
9 Steps For Picking Social Networks To Focus On For Your Business
1. Be thoughtful in understanding your customers and what matters to them. Be thorough in developing your customers personas.
2. Be committed to participating in networks you select; offer quality interaction and content. That means understanding what kinds of resources you have available to commit to creating content, sharing it online and interacting to develop your social networking business community. You'll want to develop a content strategy for the networks you participate in as well as a content calendar to keep you focused.
3. Identify your goals for participating in social networks. Will you address customer service concerns? Will you focus on thought leadership around industry issues? Do you prefer to use social networks to build your brand with current and prospective customers?
4. Make sure you know how to monitor and measure your activities so you can determine how well you are meeting your goals. Analysis will help you understand what kind of content resonates best with your community and which networks send qualified traffic to your website. Be ready, too, to experiment. As nice as large followings are, if they aren't delivering the results you need, they may not be of high quality to your business.
5. Don't forget to ask people in real life how they found you, where they hang out socially online and what they like to encounter there. You might be surprised. Social media networks may be digital tools; however, they exist to facilitate what we have been doing for eons: socializing with other people with whom we share interests. Be ready to talk about babies and puppies if that's what your crowd cares about - especially on Facebook!
6. Realize that customers will search online at a search window. So, go walk in their shoes. Find out what shows up in searches for your company name, your category, your products and brands. And then make sure all of those listings - including ones from social media networks - are complete and consistently describe your business. The more consistent you are, the more you communicate trustworthiness as people encounter you across different networks and on different sites.
7. Accept that you absolutely need to complete your Google+ Local. This listing matters if you have a physical location. It's what shows up in search results with a map for your address and may be the first encounter someone has with your business. Dress it up with your company information and images; update it with links to blog content. And regularly encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews - which will appear alongside that map in search results.
8. Understand which social networking personality is more true to your business and to your customer personas. Each network has its own vibe or culture. LinkedIn is the professional network; Facebook is intensely social and personal. Twitter is more affinity-based. Instagram is visual, mobile and personal. At the same time, networks are living entities and evolve over time.
9. Invite others in your organization to be involved in social networking for your business. Your organization becomes your brand ambassadors, bringing to life your commitment to delivering an outstanding customer experience. To help introduce the concept, consider developing social media guidelines.
How did you pick which social network to focus on? What lessons did you learn in the process? What advice would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments.