In the 10+ years since I’ve become familiar with social media, I have watched it emerge and evolve. New platforms are released almost daily, with only a few reaching mass adoption status. “Gurus” rise and fall in kind, spreading “tips and tricks” and hysteria fueled by zealousness for a platform and not for sound marketing strategy. Can every company benefit from a social media strategy? Absolutely! Should every company have a presence on every platform? Hell no!
Nothing against the zealots, I love their passion and they are doing a great deal to drive business and people into a vibrant, connected world, but the majority of companies don’t need and can’t handle a ten to twenty channel, multilayered social media program. Social media is not a one size fits all solution. For many, their customer is not searching or buying or even present on certain platforms, at least not in numbers to justify an investment. For some, Facebook is quite literally a waste of time while other companies can make a killing on Facebook. Some should put an Instagram account way on the bottom of the list, while others should jump in with both feet.
Are they both amazing platforms? Of course, but different platforms serve different purposes, attract different types of people, engage in different ways with clients, and require different types of content. A sound social media strategy pairs the goals and competencies of the company with an analysis of their target market to find the right social media platform and right social media tactics to connect the company with its customer in a way that is profitable and grows the brand. For one company, that may mean focusing on LinkedIn and Twitter. For another, Pinterest and Instagram may make the most sense. For those with more resources to commit to social media, they may want to engage on 3-5 platforms, maybe more. Most, however, don’t have the resources of a global company and shouldn’t be sold the same package.
For any company, selecting which social media platforms to utilize is based on the following questions:
What and how many resources does the company have to commit to a social media strategy? This includes time, staff, money, etc. Also consider frequency and consistency of delivery here. If one person is only able to commit 25% of their time to social media marketing, how often can they consistently post quality content and on how many platforms?
What social media platforms naturally have the highest concentrations of their customers engaging in activities that would feed them into the sales and marketing funnel? Its better to “go where the fish are” and invest your time where you know you are getting in front of the most potential customers. There is an abundance of research on the demographics of users on each platform as well as which industries are best served by each.
If the company is handling their social media in-house, what level of expertise do their responsible parties have in the relevant social media platforms? When handling your social media in-house without a dedicated specialist, it’s better to start where one is comfortable, build out a workflow and gain traction, then dive into more unfamiliar territory.
Across the board, its better to start small, build a consistent and quality practice, then expand. Know and understand your company (and team’s) competencies and your customer’s online preferences and habits and then build a social media strategy that reflects you and your situation, not the high-pressure sales tactics of a social media zealot.