I sat across the lunch table talking to Craig Bruenderman and Sam Gracie of ResonantVibes.com yesterday, talking about their community of electronic mix music producers and fans, smiling at what I heard. These are young, tech-oriented entrepreneurs, immersed in all the code and programming most of us fear. They use social tools to build their business around. They’re digital natives. What did they say that made me smile?

Stressed and frustrated businessman by Doruk on Shutterstock.com“How do you choose which social networks and channels to focus on?”

I heard the same thing from a small business owner in LaGrange, Ky., last week. I heard it the week before from the brand manager of a major consumer products company and the day before that from a marketing manager for a bank.

There are three main focal points you need to concentrate on in order to manage the volume of it all. And they’re not nearly as foreign as you might think.

1. Play Where Your Audience Plays

Think of your ideal customer or conversation partner online. Who do you want to connect with? Now find out where they are. Is Facebook their thing? Twitter? Are they more apt to dive into more granular communities like forums or message boards? No matter who your ideal consumer is, be they for your blog or your product, there are places where they and people like them congregate online. Find out where by doing some cursory research which can certainly start with asking them.

It turns out Craig and Sam need to keep a finger on the pulse of the Ruby On Rails development community since they develop in that language. Ruby users are Twitter freaks. Those guys need to be on Twitter to accomplish that connection.

Ask around. You’ll find out quickly where your ideal audience is. Prioritize based on which networks can show you the biggest impact and develop content and participation there. Sure, having a home, or at least a place holder, on as many social outposts as possible is probably not a bad idea. The notion you have to be there to participate 100-percent of the time, however is ludicrous. Fortunately, your audience will understand that so long as you tell them. Just drop a little note on your MySpace page saying, “Thanks for visiting. To connect to us faster, find us on Twitter,” and you’re probably set.

2. Do What You’re Comfortable With

No matter how hard you try, you may just not get Twitter. That’s okay. If you can find a strategic reason to use it for your business, great. If Facebook is more native to you, then focus your efforts there. Obviously, prioritize the networks where your audience is most often, but don’t force yourself into an uncomfortable role. Not everyone is cut out to star in their own TV commercials (namely any car dealer ever). You may not be cut out for off the cuff conversations on Twitter. And that’s okay.

The good news is that if you tell your customers where they can find you, they’ll find you. If they discover they can get you on Twitter quicker than commenting on your blog or website, they may even go sign up for an account just to get to you. Find a network or two where you’re comfortable then let folks know that’s where you’ll be.

3. Find Tools To Help

There are a number of social tools that can help you communicate across several networks. Broadcast options like Ping.fm have been around a while. I don’t advocate their use because the temptation to blast the same message out to multiple networks is high with these platforms. If you do that regularly, you’re spamming the communities in which you don’t participate often.

However, there are ways to go about using these tools that protect you from being a spammer while also helping you communicate in multiple places with relevant messages. The biggest rule of thumb is to be sure to jump into Facebook and participate there when you can, don’t just auto post your Tweets there.

A new tool I really like is one called Minggl. This makes communicating on the big six (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Digg and Flickr) super easy by giving you a browser sidebar tool complete with tabs for notifications, an in box and people tabs. You can broadcast a message to all six (or any number) at once by checking a few boxes. Or you can filter messages by network and concentrate on one at a time. It also allows you to post Google Sidewiki-type annotations on pages your friends can see if they’re also using Minggl.

Just be sure you don’t blast to certain networks and forget to participate in them genuinely and you should be okay.

There are a number of other thoughts here. You need to monitor all of the social web to not miss out on conversational opportunities to defend or promote your brand. Google “social media monitoring” to find more articles on that. You’ll probably also want to learn to use RSS feeds to your advantage. But the three tips above can help you participate in social networks for yourself or your company in a more efficient manner.

I’m sure you have more ideas. Drop yours in the comments and help your fellow readers manage their social networks.

Now go download some funky techno tunes on ResonantVibes and have a great weekend.

IMAGE: By Doruk on Shutterstock.com. Used with permission.


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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is the founder and chief instigator for Social Media Explorer's blog. He is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for CafePress, one of the world's largest online retailers. His opinions are his, not necessarily theirs. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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