I get the concept preached by most social media experts.
It makes sense to be where your audience is when it comes to choosing which social platforms to use, but it is wrong. It fails to account for so much more. I don't care if your target audience is only on Facebook and Instagram. You still need to have a page or profile on at least each of the big 6 (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+).
The first time I brought this up when speaking to a group of small business owners and solopreneurs their response is probably the same as yours right now: Are you #%^*&^% kidding me? I don’t have the time as it is to post on just one site and you’re telling me to be on six or seven of them?
Before you think I’m completely off my rocker, there is a big difference between being ON every social media site and being ACTIVE on every site. Granted I think you SHOULD be active on all of them but... let's focus on why you at a minimum, you need a presence.
Visibility and Accessibility
You need to be found and reachable. The easier you make that for your clients, the more likely they are to find and contact you.
Limiting where you have social profiles creates voids where you could be found. I get that your target audience might not use Google+, but setting up a page for your business does not take much time. Are you
willing to risk losing a potential lead because you chose to ignore the site?
Consider that you likely belong to several networking groups and attend as many events as possible each week. Why do you do it? To be as visible a
s possible. The beauty of social media is the ability to be everywhere, constantly. Think of it as social networking.
The accessibility piece - All of those profiles and pages create more opportunities for others to reach you. More website links, your email address and phone number in more places.
The do something more though. Every page or profile you create generates an indexed, searchable link in Google. Every link provides further visibility, will help you own SERPs for your brand name and can help compensate for a poorly optimized (think SEO) website.
A profile on every social media site is about increasing the odds of being seen and being easier to reach. Click To Tweet
Let's get one thing straight. The 'experts' are right. You must be present where your audience is present. The failure in the line of reasoning is the assumption businesses only have one audience. I hate to break it to you. You have at least three. So, even if you take the 'expert's' advice, you need to apply it three times. I am willing to bet there will be some overlap BUT you will end up realizing it takes four or more sites to reach all three.
You would think this would be simple. I know who my buyer or client is. I know where they are active on social media. But you likely don't. Most business owners truly do not have an idea of where their core audience hangs out. Very few have built a complete avatar to know exactly who their perfect buyer or client is. This leaves open the possibility of being wrong. THINKING your target is active on Facebook when it is really Twitter could mean wasting time and completely missing the mark.
I highly recommend you take the time to complete a full Buyer Persona Analysis if you have not done so yet. You will find it invaluable for more than social media marketing.
And what if your market changes? It you shift your focus and have a new audience? Seems much smarter to already have the infrastructure in place first.
Your Buyer's Influencers
Sometimes the direct route isn't the best. There was a reason toy companies advertised on Saturday morning cartoons and not the evening news. Kids were buying the toys. Their parents why. Why target children then?
So you really think Mom and Dad were going to pay attention? To thint Micronauts were the best toy ever and their son had to have them? (I really did.) Of course not!
They targeted me! I can still remember seeing commercials for toys I had to have, running upstairs to tell my parents.... only to be told no. Point, though - I did tell them. It is sometimes easier to reach the influencer than the buyer. Sometimes the influencer has more sway. Sometimes the influencer actually makes the decision (I've been married. I know).
So how does this play out on social media?
What if you were selling a product or service to construction contractors? The buyer might be on LinkedIn and I would certainly reach out and send a personalized connection request, BUT I would not expect to make a sale to them. Me? I would find the person whose job is directly helped by your product or service. Reach out and connect with them. If we are talking about the office manager, they are likely on Facebook, possibly Pinterest, Instagram and SnapChat. (See where the Buyer Persona worksheet comes in handy?) Connect with them on those sites.
So why even connect on LinkedIn with the actual decision maker? Simple. Visibility and accessibility (it's a theme of mine)! When the office manager brings your product or service to the decision maker, they are familiar with your name. That instantly adds a layer of trust. You may have already started to build a relationship. Your odds of getting the sale go up. When the decision maker has additional questions or is ready to sign, you are readily available where they want to connect.
Think back to the networking comment I made above. I can almost guarantee you are not joining groups and going to events where everyone is your potential client. You go to groups to build relationships with those who can get you in front of your buyer. Why are you not using social media the same way?
One of the greatest roles social media plays plays is driving SEO. Building relationships with others in your industry provides a way to generate increased visibility for your content through social shares. Those same contacts who are sharing your content are likely writing their own, creating the opportunity for backlinks. The increased visibility through shares to audiences outside yours combined with these backlinks and even comments on the blog itself as a result work to drive traffic to your site (lead generation) and improved search rankings (when your clients come looking for you, you are visibile).
The Single Network Fallacy
The whole notion of concentrating your efforts on the sites used by those who make up your ideal customers is sound. My concern arises from business owners failing to realize that while their target market may predominantly use one or two social sites, those individuals are more than likely active other sites as well.
A 2014 Pew Research Center study found 24% of online adults were active on two social sites and 16% used three. The oversight of failing to recognize this multi-site usage means potential missed opportunities, both to reach your target market and, more importantly, be in a position to react and respond to them.
There COULD be overlap between all 3 audience BUT you could find 4 or 5 as prevalent. Failing to actively work to reach them on each network is shortsighted.
If I meet you at your office, how I discuss what I do, my approach and my demeanor will be far different than if we were at a bar or on the golf course. Sometimes it is the difference in how you say something or the atmosphere, comfort level. The message resonates more.
A presence on each site affords the option to reach your audience in different ways. It allows for increased opportunities for your message to be seen and heard!
Brand Reputation Management
Shit happens. No business is perfect. People talk. What’s more, they will talk where they are comfortable.
When it comes to social media, they will talk where they have influence. It makes no difference if you have a presence on that site or not. You don’t need to be on Instagram to be the subject of a rant there.
If you’ve chosen to avoid Instagram under the premise you do not need it to reach your audience or have no idea how to use it, you will not be able to respond (even if your social listening system catches it).
Why be on every social site? You cannot respond to or address an issue if you don't have a presence. Click To Tweet
Catching that negative post quickly and responding to it, could prevent it from going viral. But more important, it provides an opportunity for you to address the issue. I often find how a company handles negative situations, especially in full public view, has a more profound impact on how they are perceived than the initial posted complaint.
If you are that 'perfect' company?
Your customers will be your best brand ambassadors. They will sing your praises, share your content and in some cases, go out of their way to respond to questions, inquiries and even complaints on your behalf. They may not (and quite honestly you hope they don't) confine their praise only to sites where you have a profile.
As for your brand ambassadors? You'd better be aware of their posts about you and acknowledge them. A simple 'thank you' goes a long way. It's essentially how you're paying them.
If someone takes the time to support you, you'd better take the time to thank them.Click To Tweet
Think customer service.
Joe is referred to you, heads to your retail location or website and makes a purchase. A few days later he has a question. He’s on Facebook - the platform you use as it’s the best place to reach that audience of yours - but he really doesn’t use it. He prefers Twitter. Guess what? If you do not have a presence on Twitter, Joe is forced to use Facebook, email or call. Granted none of these options are difficult, but we live in an age of convenience. Make your customer resort to something they prefer not to use, make it difficult or uncomfortable for them and they may go elsewhere next time.
With a good social listening system social media becomes a powerful tool for brand awareness, creating authority and, quite frankly, cold calling. You should be monitoring for specific sets of hashtags, keywords and phrases. Focus on those which would be used when looking for information on, or for buying your product or service. Even if you never post, you could be monitoring for opportunities to help others with questions or to sell.
Heck. Monitor for your competitor's brand mentions. You might even find opportunities they miss and potentially earn the future business!
What's In A Name?
Plenty if it's yours. Maybe the best reason to be active on every social media site, as my friend Bridget Willard of You, Too, Can Be A Guru pointed out, is to simply secure your handle or page name. You may have no need for or interest in using Twitter or Facebook now but if you do later, finding your own name is unavailable because a squatter or worse yet, a competitor grabbed it probably won't sit well.
The Bottom Line
You can listen to the social media marketing 'experts' and focus only on where your buyer is active or you can look at the bigger picture, reaping all of the benefits and value social media offers you.
It is your choice.