With all the existing & emerging social media platforms out there, choosing the right ones for your business can be a daunting task. At the beginning of the social media “revolution” I would frequently see business owner’s eyes light up and the suggestion of them being on Facebook or Twitter. Essentially they thought it meant instant fans in the thousands (and some even thought millions)! Now, I get more of the reaction “Social Media didn’t work for me.” Or “It’s not a good fit for my product category.” While there are numerous approaches and strategies when it comes to actually managing social media platforms for business, lets first address actually getting to those platforms.
CLICK HERE to see a list of the top social platforms so far for 2012 (determined by traffic generated only, not effectiveness)
STEPS TO DETERMINING PLATFORMS
1) Look at your clients/customers, partners & associations BEFORE looking at the list of social platforms
Before you get overwhelmed looking at a list of thousands of platforms to start accounts on, first figure out WHO your clients/customers are. Do NOT take this step for granted. Once you start discussing this or making a written list, you will see how it starts to grow. Once you have your list of clients, move on to partners, vendors, sponsors, etc. These are just as important to connect with as your existing clients. And don’t forget about that dream ideal client… what do they look like (on the inside…not in appearance silly)
Find Out Where The People/Business On Your List “Hang Out”
* What platforms are most of your existing clients on?
* Are your vendors, partners, suppliers, etc active on social media? If so, what platforms?
* What is the demo of your ideal client? Find the platform that best matches that
If you didn’t consider your customers existing platforms, you would all be talking a different language and never connecting!
2) Consider Your Time… Be Realistic
Again, BEFORE looking at platforms ask yourself “How much time do I have to dedicate to this daily/weekly?” Every platform has it;s own unique learning curve and some take longer than others to take hold. Determining how much time you have to dedicate to your social media marketing could eliminate some platforms immediately.
3) What Are You Wanting To Get From Your Efforts? Also referred to as “Strategy”
So, you have a decent amount of info in your brain now… and you’re ready to start looking at platforms right? NOT YET!!! It is incredibly important that you decide what your social goals are. There are both metric goals and (what I refer to as) Umbrella goals. Some examples of these are:
* Increase Awareness (new product, service, location, etc) – This does not result in direct trackable sales: Umbrella Goal
* Use social media platform X to give new users a visual of what X product is, allowing them to review, comment & offer feedback for company benefit: Umbrella Goal
* Utilize videos/articles/pictures to create visual of company offerings: Umbrella Goal
* Generate 25% more website traffic coming from social platform(s) X: Metric Goal
* Launch product/service exclusively on social platform to generate sales of X dollars: Metric Goal
Alrighty…. you feel like this yet? We haven’t event gotten to the platforms themselves!
3) Based on Your Goals Set Above & Time Available, Look at Size of Platforms and Ease of Use
Start considering overall site traffic. Platforms always recommended to be incorporated into strategy because of the sheer number of users & search-ability are Facebook & Twitter. That doesn’t mean you need to focus your efforts there, but being able to be found on platforms of that size is important.
4) Consider Niche Platforms For Your Industry
While you may exist on Facebook, that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from LinkedIn, Digg, YouTube, Pinterest & more!
LEGAL INDUSTRY check out this social networking platform JUST for you!
EVENT PLANERS & Businesses that service weddings, this platform is GREAT for you to look into!
REAL ESTATE, INTERIOR DECORATORS, CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRIES look into starting an account on this networking platform
RETAIL, BAR/RESTAURANT, LOCATION-BASED businesses we recommend being on Foursquare
5) What People Think Of Your Business/Product IS Social Marketing Too!
Don’t forget about the oldie but goody platforms like Yelp, Google Reviews, Yahoo Review, Travel.com, Hotels.com and many more!
If customers or people you have encountered in your business are out there “chatting” negatively about your business or writing bad reviews, you need to be aware of those as well, Addressing them publicly is the best way to handle most issues that arise.
You’ve now determined what platforms your target audience resides on, which platforms you will sign up for, what your goals are for each and how much time you will dedicate to individual social platforms. So now what?
The overall objective of social media are to tie all the intangible efforts out there back to your brand. And by doing so, accomplishing your goals. How do you do that? Well… that’s a whole nother blog post. So stay tuned!