Social Media: It’s All About Choices

social-pencilOne of the common misconceptions among small business owners about social media marketing is that it’s an all or nothing affair. Success or failure turns on establishing a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn and plenty of other social sites. Miss one in the mix and you’re leaving money on the digital table for your competitors.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The secret to social marketing success is your ability to share and create content that keeps people engaged and thinking about your business. Which channel you choose in that endeavor depends upon whether or not it provides the right environment to connect with your existing and potential customers, as well as your ability to consistently maintain it to reach your business goals and objectives.

Time Is Money

Unfortunately, business and tech writers aren’t too helpful in this regard. They’ve never run a business, and their articles are long on evangelism for the popular channel of the moment, but conspicuously silent on how much time it will take to actually maintain their recommendations.

In their world, time is always treated like “house money.” In the real world, time is always money, and having too many social media channels ends up being a great way to watch the hours in your workday evaporate like alcohol on hot pavement as you struggle to find and create daily content to feed them.

Statistics bear that out. In March 2014, E-mail marketing firm Vertical Response surveyed 400 small business owners to ask how much time they spend on social media each week:

  • 60.7%  spend less than 6 hours
  • 23.4% spend 6 to 10 hours
  • 9.5%  spend 11 to 20 hours
  • 6.4% spend 21 hours or more

Why so much? Because reading, writing and photo production – the core activities of social media management – all take time. That means less time for making sales calls, researching new products, providing solid customer service and, well, doing all of the other work that actually keeps the lights on.

Making The Right Choices

So, what social media channels make sense for your small business? It depends on plenty of factors, but one popular, down and dirty rule is:

Business to Business (B2B) = LinkedIn + Company Blog
Business to Consumer (B2C) = Facebook + Company Blog

That rule is hardly in stone, and, especially in B2B space, a strong case can certainly be made by consultants and other  service professionals for additional channels to showcase both original content and unique presentations.

Before you leap, though, you should first consider the unique character of each social platform and whether or not they fit your business goals, your available time, technological skill and, most importantly, your customers interests and your ability to serve them.

facebook Facebook is NOT for every business! Companies who do well on the World’s most popular social media platform actively engage their followers with interesting articles, commentary, photos, contests on a regular, sometimes daily or weekly basis. Accounting advice, links to divorce law treatises, personnel updates, sales pitches or technical papers on industrial lubricant viscosity will make your Facebook page a dead channel in a hurry.
twitter Twitter just doesn’t make sense for most businesses, unless you’re a prolific blogger, tweet daily industry commentary, re-tweet multiple industry articles/news daily and, most importantly have a #hashtag strategy to promote your tweets. Tweet too little and you’ll just get buried in people’s news feeds, making all of your hard work a waste of time.
linkedin LinkedIn is ground zero for consultants and professional service providers. Build out a company page to share your blog articles, employee updates, reports and white papers with your clients, and get people in your network to follow your page and share your posts with their networks to promote your thought leadership and expertise.
pinterest Pinterest is a photo based social platform that allows users, 80% of whom are women, to “pin” (read: save) pictures from other sites to unique topical boards (e.g, “Shoes”) for sharing and browsing by other users. It’s a goldmine for e-commerce sites, which, from their dedicated company page, build themed boards around product photos (e.g., “Summer Fashions”) with each linked to its originating page for quick purchases.
instagram Instagram is a smart phone app driven photo sharing service that allows users to follow your company’s photos, post comments and share your photos with their friends and followers. Bars, restaurants, event-driven organizations and businesses with consistent photo opportunities can enlist their pictures to build and underscore their brand’s personality.
yt You Tube isn’t just a video hosting service. It’s a full-blown social platform that allows companies to launch dedicated pages to, not only house original videos, but to also build playlists of other people’s videos to teach and inform their customers. If you don’t have the time to maintain a Facebook or LinkedIn page or don’t like to write, your company YouTube channel could feature a weekly “President’s Message,” recorded either via webcam or smart phone, to connect with your customers and prospects.

The Last Word

Social media marketing is an ongoing endeavor and channel choice matters for you and your customers. You should trust your own instincts and experience before you follow the advice of a pundit to add another social media site into the mix, because, at the end of the day, it’s your business that will rise or fall in social space … not theirs.

 

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Pat McKenna is a digital strategist, social media manager/instructor, web designer and founder of MojoWeb Productions, LLC. in Milwaukee, WI. He can be reached via e-mail or by calling (414) 732-3397.