I get this question a lot from business owners. They are trying to connect with their customers, but don’t have time to spend on all the different social media channels. There are the ‘big ones’ that everyone thinks about like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, GooglePlus and LinkedIN. There are the next level ones like Pinterest, Intstagram, and Periscope. Then there are hundreds of other social networks and even some new ones like Chirp, Anchor, Ask.fm and even ITunes podcasting.
We could easily get lost talking about the hundreds of different social media channels, but let’s just stick to the ‘big ones’ and we may touch base on some of the next level ones quickly.
What is a social media channel?
A social media channel is a place where users can post and interact with each other online. It could involve photos, videos, text only or audio. Each user must register and create an account. On that account is some basic information about you and/or your business. That information has a link back to your website. That link is called a backlink. (Backlinks show search engines how important your page is!)
You have probably used social media, so we won’t go into how to use it. Just be aware that any webpage where users can register and interact with each other is technically a social media channel. That is why I mentioned ITunes podcasting. People can leave comments, interact with the hosts and I believe they can interact with each other to some extent. (Don’t hold me to that.)
How to choose an effective social media channel
The key to choosing the right social media for your business is to know your audience. If your audience is male or female, it may make a difference which social media channel you use. If you are a business to business (B2B) service, it may be one channel and if you are direct to customer business it may be another. It is all dependent on your strategy and your audience.
I will give a basic run down of the big platforms based on my experience and studying. Everyone has their own opinions of what works and what doesn’t, so these are what I have found to be most helpful.
- Facebook is a common place to start. You can share relevant content from other websites to engage your audience and share about your business every 10 or so posts. The key is to connect with influencers, share their information and hopefully that will connect you to their audience. You also can join ‘fan pages’ where there is a common topic of interest. If you offer pool services, you can join a group called “I love my pool” or something like that. In those groups, interact, listen to the conversation (see what people are saying about a specific topic) and join in. Don’t just go in to sell. Social media is about being social.
- Twitter is the next most common place. It is simple 140 character comments, links, photos and even videos. People like Twitter because it is short and to the point. People easily follow and respond with relevant information and building a Twitter following is pretty easy. The same principle applies, be social. Interact, engage, listen to the conversation, and join the conversation. I suggest connecting your Twitter to your Facebook.
- GooglePlus is the newest to social media market, but don’t discount it. Many people say that you should only use GooglePlus if you are a techy type person. That is untrue. Let’s get real for a moment, Google owns GooglePlus. That mean they may favor search results for people who use their platform. (I have heard both sides of this story.) Use it the same way as other social media, but this one uses circles. Circles means you can post some things that only show up to your family and other things that only show up to business associates. It is an interesting concept. Plus, GooglePlus connects to your GoogleMyBusiness page which every business owner should have.
- Youtube is a social media channel. Many people think it is just for teens and gamers. This could not be further from the truth. The truth is that Youtube is the second largest search engine in the world! You heard me right. People go to Youtube to search for solutions for their problems and get ideas. With today’s smart phone technology, almost anyone can post a video directly from their hand and it automatically posts online. The key is to find relevant information about your topic that your audience is looking for. Then post a video about that topic. When someone watches a videos and you answer their questions, it elevates your status as a trusted professional. A person is more likely to buy from someone they trust.
- LinkedIN is all about business. It is about connecting to others through a web of connectors. If you have a B2B I would start with Facebook and quickly add LinkedIn. They key to LinkedIn is to create content. On many of the other social media, sharing content from others (content curation) works great. You can do the same thing on LinkedIn, but when you post your own relevant information is when you start to get noticed more.
- Pinterest is not in the ‘big ones’ but it is a great tool if you are marketing to women or you have a very visual product. It is a picture sharing and bulletin board type social media. Each picture is in categories (boards) and links back to the original source. I am working with a pool company and I suggested using Pinterest to create boards based on water features, decking options, tile designs, and beautiful pool. Share images from all other sources and include your ‘exclusive’ photos from your page.
Which social media channel should I start out with
If you do a little research you can find lots of demographics on each social media channel to see which one works for you. I suggest starting with Facebook and adding Twitter. They easily work together and most customers expect you to be on those two. GooglePlus and LinkedIN should be next if you are a B2B. If you are working with 20 somthings, I would add Instagram and Tumblr. If your main customer is women, I would add Pinterest next. From there, you must decide what is working and what needs the most time based on results, tracking and goals.
Using Tools to Automate and Connect Social Media.
If you connect your channels, it will save you lots of time. There is a neat tool called IFTTT. It allows you to automate processes and connect your channels. You set up ‘recipes’ that trigger actions. For instance, one recipe may post to your Facebook and Twitter each time you post on Pinterest. Keep in mind, many of these social media sites come with automatic connections. Just be careful, if you post to Facebook and that posts to Twitter and Twitter posts to Facebook, you could create a social media loop. Again, it is all about strategy!
ConclusionChoose one social media channel where your customers are and become a pro at that one channel. Click To Tweet
Don’t become overwhelmed by thinking about all the social media out there and which ones you need to be on. Choose one channel where your customers are hanging out and become a pro at that one channel.
It is much better to be on one channel strongly and point people to that one page. Like I said, I would start with Facebook. It is common and a great place to get some experience. Get some training or hire a coach to help you set up your page and get it moving forward. You can hire someone later, but you want to start by using it yourself first, so you can guide, track and oversee your strategy.