By Les Robinson
Knowing which social media platform to focus your efforts on can be a daunting task. Once you get comfortable with one platform, the next big thing in social media pops up.
In this series on “Social Media,” we’ve taken close-up looks at four social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogs. All of these platforms can provide important connections to current and future customers. Realistically, you may not have the resources to adequately manage all four platforms at the same time. In fact, focusing on one platform and building upon that may be the best way to take a slow and steady approach.
Following is a simple five-point checklist to help you decide where to start your social media efforts:
1) What are your business goals?
* Social media should not be your entire marketing plan, but a supplement to the overall plan to meet your business goals. Evaluate how social media fits into helping you meet your goals and objectives.
2) What platform is your audience already using?
* You’ll want to focus your initial efforts where your customers are. By building a base with those already familiar with you and/or the products you sell, they will become advocates for you in social media.
3) Which platforms do you understand best, and which ones will take some additional learning?
* If you have your own Facebook profile, you’re already familiar with the platform and its functionality. This is key in launching your social media efforts with this platform because you understand it. By the same token, you may be interested in Twitter, but don’t fully understand how it works. Start with what you know.
4) Do you want one-way or two-way conversations?
* Two-way conversations are at the root of true social media. When you open up a dialogue with users and then continue the conversation, you are, in fact, being “social.”
* However, if you’re more interested in pushing out information and controlling the messages, a blog may be better suited for your goals.
5) What resources are available?
* Manpower: How many people will be managing your social media efforts? Will you have to hire someone new? One-way conversation platforms, such as blogs, will generally be less time demanding.
* Time: Is social media a full-time or part-time responsibility of the person managing your efforts? If you only have a part-time person for your social media efforts, you will need to ensure their efforts are as focused as possible.
* Investment: Potentially, a platform like YouTube can be expensive, depending on the production level of the videos you plan on producing. You may have to purchase equipment and hire a videographer or editor. Even if you do it yourself, there’s still an investment in time.
Reviewing a few key points about your business goals can make it easier to determine how to integrate social media into them. In the vast, ever-changing world of social media, it’s important to focus your efforts in the places you’re going to get the most return. Understanding that social media is just a part of your marketing plan and allocating the resources you need to effectively get started is key. There’s really no advantage to jumping in, both feet first. In fact, by taking on too much at once, you actually run the risk of alienating some users, especially if they expect engagement and you’re unresponsive. By going through this simple checklist prior to starting any social media program, you’ll be able to step back and determine which platforms will really help you accomplish your goals.
Les Robinson, a six-year veteran with social media, is the social media specialist for Stihl Inc.