By Emily Baillie
For many marketers and entrepreneurs, choosing the right social platforms for their brand, executing successful social media campaigns and staying relevant online can seem like a never-ending task. There are more social media channels than ever before, and each major platform seems to be consistently adding new features.
Whether you’re working in a large agency, a startup, a small business or you are building your personal brand, focusing your efforts on a few social media platforms, rather than all of them, can be the best strategy to meet your goals.
Here’s why. Not all social media platforms may be relevant to your brand and its audience, and you risk watering down your social media efforts if you try to conquer all the major platforms at the same time.
When Less is More
A lot of time and effort goes into creating and curating high quality content on an ongoing basis, along with moderating comments, setting up paid campaigns and maintaining an effective overall strategy. Unless you have a dedicated social media team, you can’t be everything to everyone and you can’t post everything on every social channel.
I head up a content marketing business that manages social media strategy and creates content for small and medium sized B2B and B2C brands. I’m often asked by new clients, as well as my digital marketing students, which social media platforms a business should invest their time and resources in.
For new businesses and personal brands, I usually recommend focusing on two to three major platforms (often Facebook, Instagram and Twitter or LinkedIn) rather than to trying to conquer all of them at the same time. Why? Because no matter what your role, if you work in digital marketing or you’re an entrepreneur, your time is precious. Sharing relevant, timely content on a select number of networks is the key to success.
So how can you figure out which channels to use, and which ones to pass on? Here are a few tips to get you started.
1. Know Your Why
Whenever I connect with a new prospective client, one of the first things I ask them is what they are hoping to achieve in their social media efforts. The answer to this question is so telling. Some entrepreneurs are looking to increase brand awareness and build trust. Others are looking to drive traffic to their website and generate quality leads. Some simply know think that they “should” be on social media, so that’s what they’ve decided to do.
All these objectives are completely valid. But without a sizeable budget and staff, it can be hard to fulfill them all in the short term. By getting clear on your primary goals - the ones that are truly important to you - you can better decide which platforms, and how many platforms, you can commit to now.
2. Know Your Audience
Audience behaviour and social media habits change over time, which means that your strategy and tactics must evolve as well. In order to build engagement, you need to understand exactly who your target audience is and what their online habits are. Which social media channels are your typical clients are using most regularly? Where are they spending their time online?
Once you’ve figured that out, choosing your key platforms becomes easy. Is your company selling luxury lifestyle products to the 60+ crowd? If so, then perhaps Facebook would be a good platform for you to focus on. If you’re a hip fashion startup aimed at selling to millennials, Instagram may be just the ticket. By selecting two to three social channels on which to build out your brand presence, and perhaps invest in paid social on that platform as well, you can streamlining your workload and target your potential customers where they already are.
3. Hatch a Plan
Your social media strategy can’t be only about existence. Brands must be fully invested in their social media marketing strategies and focused on building engagement over the long term. This means that you’ll need a thorough social media strategy for your brand, regardless of its size.
Your number one task is to ensure that the content you deliver through social media actually brings value to your followers. Posting mediocre content simply for the sake of grabbing attention just isn’t going to cut it. Think realistically about how much time your team has to create and curate high quality, engaging social content. Don’t forget to include the time it takes each day to build engagement by interacting with other users online. This process should help you figure out how many platforms you can realistically commit to at this time, while keeping in mind that you can add additional social platforms to your marketing mix later.
Lastly, if you’re ready to build your social media channels but you find that you don’t have the bandwidth in your organization, outsourcing your social media marketing can free up your resources and allow you to focus on growing your business in other ways.
Emily Baillie is the Founder of Compass Content Marketing which provides social media marketing & advisory services to small and medium sized Canadian businesses. She is also a part-time Digital Marketing Professor at Humber College & McMaster University. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.