Social media may represent the largest opportunity for marketing misalignment.
The proliferation of channels and the speed at which they change is somewhat overwhelming. Unlike more mature marketing tactics that are well understood, social media presents a range of new challenges for marketers and business owners to manage.
When selecting social media channels to participate in, you should:
1. Ensure that your audience actually uses a given platform.
2. Consider if the platform is a good fit for your brand.
3. Set realistic expectations for your level of participation on a platform and specific goals for what you want to achieve there.
If you look around on social media sites, you’ll see a graveyard of open accounts that lie dormant, contain outdated posts, or have no business being there in the first place. It usually takes only minutes (or seconds) to open a social media account. It’s much harder to sustain a presence, let alone produce a tangible impact.
Each social media platform has its own unique user base, focus, and methods for members to communicate with one another. Sure, individuals and businesses use multiple social media sites, but what they accomplish on each differs depending on the platform.
From a strategic point of view, my first recommendation is to identify which platforms your current or potential customers are utilizing. That sounds basic, but it’s easy to start out by thinking that you need to participate on many social media sites to be successful, and that’s not true. In fact, the smaller your organization, the more focused your efforts should be on fewer sites where you engage more actively. Spreading yourself too thin will guarantee that you won’t get results anywhere.
Research the social media platforms you are interested in and see if those types of people are active there and interacting on topics that are relevant to your business. I say this specifically because context is very important to your initiatives. For instance, you may find that several individuals from your target customer base are active on Facebook. However, if they mainly interact with their personal networks, they might find it intrusive if you’re a B2B vendor and attempt to connect with them there. However, they may have a completely different reaction if you were to reach out on LinkedIn. Again, this may or may not be true depending on the circumstances.
After you’ve established the proper user context, you have to ask yourself if the platform is a fit for your brand. Establishing a user base is one element in determining this. But you have to decide if the platform is aligned with the tone of your brand, your mission, and so on. Some criteria you can use to help you evaluate a fit are:
Types of content you plan to share
If video is not in your plan, then video-sharing platforms are probably out. Do you produce a lot of still images you can share? Then image-sharing platforms might be in. Having a content strategy that aligns with each platform’s content focus will ensure that you can maintain a robust presence there and grow your following.
Frequency of communication
Honestly, for social media to work, you have to communicate pretty frequently no matter which platform you are on. However, platforms like Twitter demand that you interact more frequently and connect in conversations more personally to be successful.
Platform focus – business, personal, or both
Some platforms, like LinkedIn, are almost exclusively professionally oriented. Others, like Facebook, are used more by individuals to keep in touch with their personal networks or engage with B2C brands, although B2B brands are still very active there. Then, you have platforms like Twitter that cross into both the personal and professional. Alignment is the key here as well. If it feels inappropriate to interact with your target customers about a topic on a particular network, then it’s probably best not to do so.