Social Media Overload: Does your small business need to be on every network?
by Ellen Williams, Regional Development Director, Constant Contact
There are many social media outlets for promoting a business - so many that small business owners might find it all difficult to keep up with. Here are some tips for managing your social media presence efficiently.
First there was Facebook, soon followed by the likes of Twitter and LinkedIn. Now the marketing world is buzzing about Instagram, Pinterest and Google+. As a small business owner, maintaining a social media presence seems like a daunting task—and keeping up with the constant changes and popular new networks can feel nearly impossible.
But don’t fret; it is possible for you to have the social presence needed to benefit your business, without it becoming a full-time job. Here are some effective solutions to avoid social media overload.
Use your precious time wisely.
Social media works, but only when you have the resources and the time to invest in it. When you don’t have a marketing team to help you, managing multiple social media channels can feel almost impossible. Know that it’s okay to start small—focus on one network to begin with. Spend 90% of your time with this primary network and figure out works for you there. Then, use the other 10% of time to investigate another network that may complement your overall strategy.
So how to you decide where you should focus your time and energy?
Focus on where your target audience already is.
Today, customers want choices where they interact with brands. For example, some may like to follow a brand on Twitter but not on Facebook. Social media gives them that choice, so it’s important to have a presence where your customers are looking to interact with you and other businesses. How do you know which sites are right for your business or organization? The simple answer is to ask your customers or members. When they come into your place of business or when you see them at an event, ask what networks they use. If they make a purchase, add a social media question to your feedback survey to collect information about what networks they use.
Think hard about your goals and who you’re trying to reach:
- Are you looking to reach new and potential customers?
- Are you trying to connect with existing customers to increase loyalty?
- Do you want to build an audience beyond your typical demographic?
- Who uses each social network and what do they use it for?
- How are similar organizations using each social network?
Remember the “social” part of social media—establish a community.
Establishing yourself on a social media network is a commitment. Don’t get caught building up pages and profiles if you don’t have time for the “social” part. If you’re sacrificing customer relationships just to be more places, then something may be wrong. To build an engaged community, you need to post great, compelling content on a regular basis. You also have to be willing and able to respond to inquiries and complaints from followers and fans.
That’s often the trickiest part: one survey found that 79% of consumers who shared complaints on social media were ignored. That’s pretty bad, considering the same survey showed that 89% of consumers choose a competitor after a bad customer experience.
Don’t spread yourself too thin.
Don’t rush to what everyone says is the next big thing when you haven’t gained any ground on your existing social networks. Instead, work hard to establish yourself among the social media audiences you already have. Make your existing social media networks work before moving onto another one.
That way, you can take what you know succeeds for your organization and apply it again and again as more social networks come out over next year.
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Ellen Williams, Constant Contact Regional Development Director, New York and Southern Connecticut
Ellen has over 20 years of technology and marketing experience and has presented to over 4,000 small businesses, nonprofits, and associations. Her advice on best practices help organizations understand how to build great customer relationships that inevitable grow their businesses.