19 Feb 2015 / by Cassie Paton / in Marketing
Choosing the Right Social Networks for Your Business (and How to Rock Them)
If you’re just starting out in your business (or if you’re simply ramping up your social media efforts), choosing which social media channels to use and spend time developing a following on can be a daunting task. You may feel like you need to sign up for every platform out there—and if you’ve already done that, you’re likely overwhelmed trying to keep up with them all.
Save yourself the stress. You don’t need to have a presence on every network, and it’s probably wise that you don’t. If you’re not outsourcing the work, you’ll end up spending more time than you should managing your accounts rather than focusing on the daily operations of your business. What’s more important is the quality of the content you’re sharing on social media and whether you’re engaging your target audience. You can do exactly that by focusing your efforts on just a couple of channels rather than spread yourself thin across a dozen.
To decide which channels will be the most beneficial for your brand, ask yourself these questions first:
What networks are my customers using?
This may seem like a given, but all too often brands miss out on reaching their customers because they’re focused solely on reaching the masses. Though the masses may include some of your customers, it benefits no one to “spray and pray,” or blast the same message across multiple platforms and hope the right people hear it.
You can be a bit more strategic than that. First and foremost, show up where your customers are hanging out, and cater your message to the medium it’s broadcasted on. If that’s Instagram, search for relevant hashtags to find existing and potential customers and brand evangelists—then give them a follow. Speak their language by adopting their hashtags and add your own.
What networks are people in my industry using?
These people might be competitors—they may also be suppliers, employees or other experts. (You can learn something from each of these groups about how they use or don’t use their platforms.) When it comes to the competition, don’t be intimidated by others who dominate the landscape, but rather analyze their feeds and look at:
- how often and what times they’re posting
- the main areas of focus in their posts
- which posts get the most responses or shares, and
- the rate at which they grow their audience.
If the numbers are favorable, you can use that platform to your advantage, too, and you’ll have given yourself a primer on how to best do that. (These five brands are killing it on social media this year.)
Note that just because your competitors are active on a site doesn’t necessarily mean you should be, too. But it’s wise to look at their channels from an objective standpoint and see what they’re doing well and where there’s room for improvement.
Where do I have the largest, most engaged following?
If you’ve already started building a following on multiple channels, spend some time analyzing interactions with your brand. Who followed you recently? Are they your target audience? Are you getting mentions, and what are people saying? Do your posts get shared? If one channel stands out as particularly valuable in this regard, it’s likely a good candidate for a network to focus on growing. If not, that doesn’t mean it can’t be. It simply means you should dedicate more time to testing out what people respond to.
Often, the most valuable social media posts aren’t posts by your business, but posts from customers about your business. All customers need is a reminder—or better yet, incentive—to do so. It’s the best social media marketing you can possibly hope for and takes a lot of the workload off you. But remember, you have to find your audience and get in front of them before they’ll take that initiative.
What do I enjoy using?
This one is important. It’s your time you’re investing, and you want that time to be spent doing something that truly boosts your brand and is fun to strategize for. If the latter is true, the former is likely to be, as well. (If you’re engaged and interested in what you’re doing, your content is more likely to be engaging and interesting to your audience! No-brainer.)
So if witty one-liners are your thing, the 140-character limitation on Twitter is likely a good fit. Not much for words but have a good eye for photography? Instagram is the network for you. If you enjoy sharing helpful tips and interesting images from around the web—or have a lot of that content on your own blog—Pinterest is the way to go. Notice a theme? Do what you’re good at and what you enjoy.
Everything you share online should be catered to the platform you’re posting on, but the same rules apply across the board as far as the qualities your content should have.
If you’re regularly brainstorming how you can incorporate these five characteristics of a good post, you’ll rock whichever social media outlets you choose:
Hands-down one of the top priorities of your brand’s online presence should be to provide value—to help your audience in some small way. It’s all too easy for people to click “unfollow,” and if you’re not regularly providing helpful tips, responding to customers or showing your audience why they should give you their hard-earned money, that’s exactly what will happen.
If you do provide this kind of value, your brand will be seen as an enriching contribution to your audience’s timeline rather than simply clutter. (And the more value you offer, the more justified and less intrusive your promotional content will feel to your audience.) You’re an expert in your field, so share your expertise. Don’t worry about giving away valuable information for free—the fact is, plenty of it already exists out there, so you might as well add your voice to that mix. You have plenty else to offer that people will pay good money for.
When you offer something just for your Twitter followers, for example, as a way of saying thanks (and do it more than once!), you attract more fans. Plus, you tap into people’s innate desire to get access to something before everyone else. That’s especially effective when the offer is also…
“Free shipping,” “$10 off” or “40 percent off” are all nice enough, but customers are bombarded with those messages every day. Add “ends today” or “only two more hours!” and suddenly there’s a greater incentive for customers to click. Psychological marketing trick? Yes. Effective? You bet. It’s a lot harder to leave a good deal on the table when it’s about to expire.
Urban Outfitters posts exclusive, time-sensitive calls-to-action constantly. Why? Because it works.
What kind of lifestyle does your business’ target audience aspire to? Do they want to be more carefree, organized, refreshed or stylish? How do you fulfill that aspiration? The answer to that question is what you want to convey to your audience, not just by telling them, but by showing them how you can help them improve their lives. Figuring out how your target customers actually want to feel is one of the best ways you can get in tune with what motivates them when they buy your product or service.
Say what you will about the food, but Arby’s gets social media. And clearly, they’re self-aware.
You know what gets a lot of shares? Humor. Don’t be afraid of having a personality online. In fact, the more personality you let shine through, the less people will feel like they’re following a salesperson. If irreverence is on-brand for your business, go all the way with it. (Unless you’re going to take it back because of a couple of complaints. Not everyone will share your sense of humor, but remember, not everyone is your target audience.)
If you mix in these five qualities with the sales-y stuff, the sales-y stuff won’t be a turn-off to your followers, and you can more easily put these practices to use when you choose just a couple channels to build. If you’re providing truly valuable, entertaining and engaging content, you can become an authority on any platform you choose without becoming overwhelmed. No matter where you’re most active, don’t forget to invite feedback and ask people to share your content.
Enplug digital signage software was co-founded by CEO Nanxi Liu and CTO Tina Denuit-Wojcik in 2012 to enable organizations to use customized real-time streaming content to create engaging external and internal communications.
About Enplug Digital Signage Software
Enplug digital signage makes it simple for businesses to create and share compelling visual content for their marketing and employee communications. Our software powers content on thousands of TVs worldwide with news feeds, social media walls, sports scores, employee leaderboards, graphics, and videos. Enplug was founded in 2012 in Los Angeles, California.