So you finally gave in. For years people have been telling you to put your small business on social media, but you resisted. Sure, you’ve got a personal Facebook profile. Doesn’t everybody? But when it came to social media for business you balked. You weren’t exactly sure what to do. And you sure as heck weren’t sure where you’d find the time amidst your other tasks. But you’re tired of having it hang over your head, like the threat of extinction hung over the dinosaurs. So you’re finally ready to take the plunge. Yet just one question remains, as you ponder, “I only have time for one social network, so which one should I use?” Here are 5 ways to help answer that question.
1. Is your audience business or casual?
Are your customers suit-wearing, buzzword-dropping execs who pride themselves on knowing the best places for a business lunch? Or are they earthy blue-collar types who only think of “conferences” in relation to sports divisions? If your target audience is the kind that knows “SWOT” has nothing to do with guns then your best networks might be:
- LinkedIn: the most professional of the major social networks
- Google Plus: a steadily growing haven for subject matter experts, or
- Twitter: the social media mullet that’s all business in the front and a party in the back
If your target audience is less “professional” (for lack of a better term), then consider spending most of your energies on one of the more casual networks like:
- Facebook: used by everybody and their mother (well, except for my mother)
- Pinterest: where women of the world unite (over craft projects and inspirational quotes), or
- Instagram: two words — food and fashion
2. Is your business photogenic?
Do your products photograph well? Does the essence of your brand embody a selfie-loving concept, like healthy living or jet-setting? It’s true that you can publish images on all of the social networks, and indeed it’s an across-the-board fact that posts with image do better than those without. But some networks were just made for pictures — in their design, intent and usage and those are Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook, in that order.
3. Can you gain more by listening instead of talking?
Maybe you’re not quite ready to shout from the rooftops. Perhaps you’d like to have a better understanding of the larger context before you stake your claim. Fair enough. In that case consider using the following:
- Twitter: follow industry figures you admire and make lists to help curate your experience
- LinkedIn: add the most valuable contacts from the list of people you’ve actually met in real life, follow some aspirational contacts like Richard Branson, and — most importantly — find discussions in some industry-related groups to first listen and then contribute to
- Google+: similar to LinkedIn, except looser on the etiquette in that you don’t need to actually have met someone to add them to your circle. However be aware that 1) they may not add you back, and 2) unless it’s a public figure or som you should use it judiciously so as to not appear weird. Also similar to LinkedIn, it’s great for finding discussions and communities to which you can listen and contribute.
4. How much time do you have?
Some networks are time sinks. For example, it’s easy to create a Facebook Page for your business, but it will take a great deal more time to understand Facebook’s obscure metrics and the way its constantly changing algorithm determines how many of your fans actually see your posts. Likewise it’s super simple to publish to Twitter and Instagram but building your list of followers will take more time. Also, given Twitter’s ephemeral nature and the relatively short half-life of a tweet, tweeting just once a day will give you about as much mileage as a 100-year old tortoise. Contrast this with LinkedIn where you can grab the stack of business cards you’ve collected over the years, feed the names in and reasonably expect most folks to follow you back, helping you to build a network at a relatively quick pace. (Of course if you’ve already created your profiles but just need finding the time to share great content on them on a regular basis we can help!)
5. Are you a desk jockey or always on-the-go?
This final tip has everything to do with your own working life. All of the social networks are on mobile but some were either built for the channel, (e.g. Instagram) or work especially well on it (Twitter). If you’re always on-the-go then one of these networks might be your best choice. Conversely if you can regularly sit behind a laptop or tablet then LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Plus could work for you. Whichever network you decide to start with, you deserve a medal for finally taking the plunge and choosing not to go the way of the dodo bird! And do let me know if you have any questions or want to learn more about how we can help!