This is a question I often get in my initial consultations with clients. Asking this question before developing a social media strategy is like putting the cart before the horse.
Many small businesses and nonprofit organizations have very limited marketing budgets, so it is understandable that they want to get the “biggest bang” for their already-stretched buck. They want results and they want them now.
Unfortunately, social media is not the marketing silver bullet many (disingenuously) claim it to be. There are no firm right or wrong answers.
Like everything else in PR and marketing, social media strategies must be used and tested, continually improved upon and revised, before you can really see results.
Before determining in which social media baskets to put your eggs, do the following:
1) Research. Determine your strategy. Who is your target market – your community? What are they interested in? Do they like travel, fashion, shopping, activism, the environment? What are your competitors doing that seems to be working and how could you adapt their methods? What are other industries doing that works and what falls flat?
2) Ask. Ask your community what social networks they prefer in an email survey, newsletter or informal poll. See what they say – it will certainly surprise you. They are reading blogs, posting updates and photos, looking for jobs and watching videos, all using social media. They are interacting with each other, with businesses and brands, and with causes they care about. Find out where they are, and go to them.
3) Jump in. Most likely your target market is already active on or more of the “big four” social media networks – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. They may also be on Pinterest and Google+. Remember to ask your community what they want to see from you on these networks– advice tips, helpful articles, photos, videos? What is your purpose?
4) Start slowly and build. Don’t feel like you are already so behind that you can’t even start. Social media is a valuable tool in your marketing tool kit, but if it’s not used at all, it will have no benefit.
Before you get totally overwhelmed, remember:
- You cannot be all things to all people. There are consultants and contractors in your area who specialize in marketing, PR and social media. You are good at your business; you don’t have to be an expert marketer on top of that.
- Less is more. Choose two social networks to begin with and take it from there.
- Don’t get discouraged. Getting the results you want from social media is time-consuming. Start with realistic goals and you may be surprised to surpass them!
Do you have anything to add? Anything that I missed? Please feel free to comment in the section below or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks for reading!