Social networking can be pretty great for your business. It lets you communicate with your potential clients, build your brand image, and it shows you’re really cracking at keeping up with all that modern technology lark. It’s definitely something like that at least.
The problem is that there’s not just one or two social media channels which you can turn to in your hour of need, but a whole heap. They don’t all do the same thing, even though they might share similar features, and just because one is more widely adopted than another doesn’t mean that that should be how you decide. According to Wikipedia’s fairly extensive list, there’s more than 300 active social networking sites – and you can be pretty sure that that isn’t exhaustive.
How many can you think of? Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Youtube, LinkedIn – running out of ideas yet? Could you think of twenty?! It helps to define social network. The term is actually quite simple, and once you’ve thought about it you’ll realize that more sites which you use could fall under the same umbrella category. It simply means a “website or other application which enables users to communicate with each other by posting information, comments, messages, images.”
So, with more than 300 options, where on the big wide web do you start?!
The key link between social media allocation and sandwiches (and other allegories)
Metaphorically, think of social media as a sandwich filling – stick with me, it’ll get there. You only have a certain amount of filling, and if you try and make too many sandwiches you will quickly run out, and the sandwiches won’t be as delicious as they could be. Instead, just make a couple of really great sandwiches. You’ll find the filling lasts longer and you’ll get the best out of what you have.
You should do the same with your social networking. Consider it as a finite resource, one which you need to use wisely. Instead of trying to maintain a presence on all the social networking platforms out there, the skill is actually to pick which ones will suit your business, and focus on them. You’ll be able to learn them more quickly, dedicate more resources, and ensure everything which does out on them is of a really high standard.
Rather than trying to put your eggs in every available basket, pick two or three of the most relevant baskets.
Which sandwiches should you fill?
To work out which social media channels are most suitable for you, start with the basics and look at your business. If you’re in the ol’ marketing game, you’ll probably have a good idea of what your demographic and psychographic information is. If you’re new to the business, perhaps you don’t. Are you aiming at businesses or at consumers? Men or women? How old are they? This sort of information will help you create a solid idea of who it is you’re trying to sell to.
You’ll also need to think hard about what you’re trying to achieve with your networking. Are you just getting your brand out there or are you trying to attract some new business? Are you providing a bit of additional customer support or building positive PR?
You’ll be able to find out information about which channels best suit your clients by carrying out a bit of research and matching them up.
To give you some examples we’ll look at just a few of the social media channels out there and whether they would be suitable for two very different industries: child modelling and accountancy software.
A social media heavy weight. Interestingly, what once was a young person’s playroom is now seeing a shift to a slightly older market. In fact, the biggest growth last year was in the 55+ sector. If you thought Facebook was too young, then think again. All sorts of businesses have a home on Facebook, so both child modelling and accountancy software could fit in. For a modelling agency you might post more photos and link to outside blog content, as well as industry news, whilst for the more B2B accountancy sector, you would share resources, reports, and financial news.
One of the newer social media super powers, and perfect for visual industries such as child modelling. If you’re in the ecommerce industry it’s the place to go because its users have money to spend. It just wouldn’t work for anything non visual, and to try to force a connection would be more work than it’s worth.
LinkedIn is one of the few social networks which is used by more men than women. It screams business, and trying to engage with a child modelling based audience would just not work. For your accountancy, your marketing, and IT, LinkedIn is a good place to go. You can network with contacts you already know, as well as be introduced to new people through a mutual connection. It’s more barebones than some of the other networking sites, and therefore perfect for the B2B world.
Some final thoughts
If you’re still not sure, research a bit more and try some sites out. Social networks are usually free to sign up for and use, so you can trial them for a month to see whether they seem worthwhile. If no one else in your industry is using those sites though, there’s probably a reason.
Whichever industry you’re in, there is a way of using social media to your advantage – as long as you’re savvy with it.
Are there any sites in particular you’ve found benefit your business more than others?