Social media platforms are appearing like wildflowers after a summer rain. Each promises reach into the psyche (and by inference ‘the wallets’) of their target audience. Each requires a learning curve to adopt, time to manage, and, possibly most important, each should prove its worth to you before you commit precious resources to participate. This means, of course, that jumping on the newest, shiniest, most promoted social media platform in ever isn’t really necessary. In fact, there’s time, and you should use the time they’re spending proving themselves to the world (and you as a business) to focus on what’s working for you already. All new businesses will attempt to create a sense of urgency for you, that’s how they grow. In this case, waiting a bit and then deciding if there’s a good fit is simply prudent and a good idea.
That said, modern marketing definitely includes social media in the mix. The definition of social media has broadened to include blogging, which also supports the idea of creating consistent, quality, content for SEO and general marketing purposes. You want to be seen by the search engines; you want to build a relationship with your audience – two birds, one stone, and thy name is good content.
The content piece continues into the Facebook realm. Facebook provides an opportunity to generate referrals, to nurture relationships with your audience, and to demonstrate your commitment to the art of online conversation, which can require planning and thought. People come out of left field, sometimes, and having a well-planned strategy for responding when the topic gets tricky is key. Consistency is also key. Managing a Facebook presence means you’ve dedicated resources to planning your social media marketing, to participating in the conversations that are generated by your compelling marketing, and to getting the best results possible in that particular medium. Facebook posts with less words and a really good image garner much more response, so a piece of your strategy should include capturing cool images to use. The audience here has begun to skew slightly older now that teenagers are fleeing due to their parents’ participation (and surveillance…), which means users with some disposable income are increasing – always a good thing.
Twitter provides a venue for the like-minded to exchange thoughts on a given topic, like, for example, the benefits of therapeutic massage for postpartum health. It’s a very trendy, up-to-the-minute medium, and cycles very quickly. If attention focus is your goal, you’ve only got a very small window using Twitter. It is, however, a great place to build credibility within your audience – the exchanges can be opportunities to plant a seed for a very stimulating conversation in the Twitterverse, while creating a venue on which to share expertise.
YouTube continues to grow at an astonishing rate. The audience loves to see people demonstrating services or creating ‘tutorials’ on topics germane to the audience. I could certainly have used a lesson in flat iron technique when I realized upon growing my hair out after many years of short locks that I had become wavy/curly, and seriously needed to tame those tresses! Fortunately I have a helpful daughter who stepped up and instructed me at a time I was just about to ask my stylist to ‘cut it all off!’ due to extreme frustration. My point, though, is watching something is much more helpful than reading about it for most people, and watching something that’s been created with the medium in mind, in short segments (less than 5 minutes, if possible), will generate more interest for the occasional longer piece.
LinkedIn has historically provided a venue for professionals to network. The site tends to be used for professional networking, for employers to find potential employees, and for potential employees to find potential employers. It provides a place where credibility within a given industry can be established, over time, and where the comradery feels akin to that of offline professional organizations, in my experience. From a priority standpoint, I’d be inclined to choose one or more of the first three social media options listed before spending too many resources developing a strong LinkedIn presence. It’s ideal for B2B’s, and slightly less so for B2C interactions, based upon the usual traffic and content that’s generated.
The key players in the social media arena remain, overall. The key for your business is determining which make the most sense for your goals and social media presence. Regardless which you choose, you’ll need to commit to the experience. The most successful in the social media game are those who respect it as a potential referral and, ideally, revenue generator, and develop a strong following over time. Consistency, clarity, creative content and commitment to the effort will take you a long way to garnering success within the new media culture.