There’s no magic to building a social media presence, but there are some rules you can follow to get a magical return after you’ve built it.
The first is to give weight to four different variables in determining the most effective social platforms for your brand to use.
1. Determine the platform(s) in which your clients or customers are already hanging out.
If you want to use social media to reach a specific audience, then, before you begin, do some homework to determine what platforms those audience(s) are already using. This should help you to narrow your options from “the social web” to a few key players upon which to concentrate your efforts.
Start by monitoring the social web for mentions of your company, products/services, competitors or industry focus using keywords you’ve likely already identified for your SEO activities. You can use simple tools for this process, such as Google Alerts or free listening platforms like socialmention, social media management dashboards like HootSuite or more advanced, paid tools (which will give you the most accurate information) like the Salesforce Marketing Cloud.
2. Determine the platform(s) that feel most appropriate for your brand.
Not only do you want to be where your customers are, you want to be where it feels most appropriate. So, when you’re determining which platforms may be a good fit, also give some thought to the image you’d like to project in social media and voice you’re planning to use to communicate with audiences.
For example, if you own a funeral home, you may find the sometimes playful tone of Facebook to be too casual for your brand. Or, if you run a company which has products or services that aren’t very visual, you may want to skip Pinterest. Ultimately, this is a very personal decision, so don’t be afraid to follow your gut.
3. Determine the platform(s) that are most appropriate for the resources you have available.
Take into consideration how easy or difficult it will be for people within your company to use the social platforms you choose. Is it hard to reach Facebook through the firewall and your senior management is wary of giving you a window of access? Then maybe cross Facebook off your list, in favor of a platform that seems more business-friendly internally, such as LinkedIn.
Also evaluate if you have the tools or technology on hand to support your day-to-day activities within a platform (e.g. If you want to use YouTube, make sure you have the capabilities to create video to keep your presence fresh) or the human resources (e.g. Before you launch a blog, make sure you’ve identified if you have access to people who are interesting in writing for it.)
4. Determine the platform(s) in which your Community Manager(s) will shine.
It is critical that your Community Manager likes and is good at using the social platform(s) you choose for your company. While you don’t want to base your entire social strategy around one person, the reality is that when people enjoy the social platform they are using, it shows and it makes their efforts infinitely more effective.
So, if your Community Manager is a Twitter-holic, piggyback on those skills and passion to take your brand’s account to the next level. If your Community Manager is fearless in trying new platforms and applications, maybe take a risk and set up an account for your brand in something new, like Vine.
While all four of the factors mentioned above are important, admittedly, they don’t all have equal weight in the decision-making process. A good breakdown to shoot for is:
- Where your clients/customers are. (50%)
- Where it’s brand-appropriate. (10%)
- Where you have resources. (20%)
- Where your Community Manager shines. (20%)
Obviously, this formula will change slightly from company to company.
The main point to remember is that “where the audience is” should not be the end-all, be-all factor in deciding which social media platform(s) you should use. Even if you set up a presence where your target audience is, if you miss the boat on the other three criteria, your social media efforts may become an uphill battle.
However, find one or two platforms that satisfy all four of these requirements and you’ll be well on your way to making some magic happen.