Getting the social media formula right for your business is a tough ask. There are as many opinions as platforms – but there are some guiding principles to get it right.
The most important thing to know about social media is that it’s different for all businesses, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.
It’s also important to stop comparing your business to other businesses, because all you can do is run your own social media race.
Here are the top things to keep in mind when choosing which social media platforms to be on.
How many channels can you handle?
One of the top mistakes small business owners can make is trying to be everywhere at once.
After all, it’s easy to be on all the social media channels in the world – the true value comes in doing a good job.
If you’re on multiple channels and you’re not quite seeing the results you want, you may want to consider pulling back.
Because it takes time to be on social media there is the temptation to post the same post to different platforms through automation tools.
It can be done, but running your social media presence through automation tools can be tough if you’re not a seasoned operator.
To be effective on social media there needs to be an understanding of social selling and how social media can work for business.
You need to allow time to be present and engage on whichever channel you choose.
Are you doing all the social media yourself or are you outsourcing some elements? How much time do you have available for engaging in social media?
Most small businesses can really only handle one to two channels well but with extra resources it is possible to do more.
Determining which channels you need to be on depends on where your customers are on social media and where they are expecting to engage with you.
Where are your customers?
What social media platforms do your customers engage on?
If you have a diverse customer base, you may need to cover more social media platforms than other businesses.
It’s crucial to get the correct information about your customers’ social media habits.
Often I hear business owners saying to other business owners: “You have to be on Instagram! Everyone’s on it and it works for me”.
It may work for one business, but it may not be right for yours.
For example, according to the 2017 Sensis Social Media Report [PDF], 46 percent of Australians use Instagram. However, that figure rises to 81 percent for people between the ages of 18 and 29.
Your customers may be different and engage on Snapchat or LinkedIn, so you may need to be on those channels as well.
This is where great customer research can help get you some answers and help narrow the gap between the stats and your customer base.
Which platforms do you like to use?
Usually, people like the things they are good at.
If you’re a social media savant and can’t go five minutes without tweeting, then you can afford to be on multiple social media channels – if your customers are there as well.
If on the other hand, you’re not such a big fan then being on more channels is not such a great idea.
It’s best to be on the channels that you like and understand you will naturally do a better job.
Social media takes time and energy, particularly if you want to come across as authentic. If you don’t like being on social media to begin with, then it can be an absolute energy zapper.
The most important thing is to be strategic with your business’ social media presence.
Know why you’re on a particular channel, how it relates to your business goals, how you’re going to engage with customers and what sort of content you’re going to provide for them.
As a final tip, it’s also important to know how much you’re willing to invest and how you’re going to measure return on investment.
Otherwise, you’ll just be tweeting for tweeting’s sake – and that helps nobody.