With so many social marketing platforms available today, it's difficult to know which ones are most important to your overall marketing efforts. In a perfect world, your company would have the time and money to spend building its brand on every popular social marketing platform, such as Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and the list goes on... But the reality is, few companies have the time, manpower and budget to be effective across all social marketing platforms consistently, making it important to prioritize where to focus your efforts. So where should you begin?
- Define your goals: in determining which social marketing platforms are essential for your marketing efforts, you first need to know what you are trying to accomplish, and how these different platforms can help you achieve your goals. Once you have defined specific objectives for your social media program, it becomes easier to identify which platforms can help you achieve those goals.
- Understand your target audiences and where to reach them: the key to any successful marketing program is being able to effectively reach your specific target audiences where they regularly interact and get information. That means, for instance, if your company primarily sells and markets its products or services to the insurance industry, you'll be better off positioning your business and expertise on LinkedIn, which is the largest professional social network, rather than spending valuable time on a social media site like Facebook, which is generally more consumer-oriented. Think about where you are focusing your social marketing investments and why.
- Be consistent and proactive: in so many cases, businesses are so eager to be prominent on social networks, they focus on establishing a presence on every social network deemed popular to then quickly realize that they don't have time or resources to consistently and proactively engage with their fans and followers. To be effective on social media, being regularly engaged with your fans and followers is vital. So it's better to focus on two or three platforms consistently then eight or 10 of them.
- Leverage videos and photos to tell your brand story: social marketing platforms have made it easier than ever before to tell your brand story with videos and photos. When selecting which social marketing platforms to use to position your company, take advantage of photo and video sharing platforms, such as YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram. Or if you are already using Twitter or Facebook, make sharing videos and photos part of your social media strategy.
- Establish benchmarks and measure, assess, measure: it may seem obvious that results measurement is a prerequisite for any effective marketing effort. However, sometimes measurement goes to the wayside when there are so many other competing priorities. To ensure this doesn't happen, you'll need to determine specific and tangible social marketing benchmarks and then define the tools you will use to measure them. There are a number of social marketing measurement tools you can use, some which are free, such as Facebook Insights, Hootsuite, and Twitter Analytics.
With all of this in mind, remember to follow the 80-20 rule, as author and small business expert Steve Strauss recommends in a Forbes article, Making Social Marketing Make Sense for Small Business. That means only 20 percent of the content you generate on social media should be about your company, products or services. The other 80 percent should be about your customers and their needs.