Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter Oh My!

As I continue to teach classes at Hofstra, and introduce business owners to the myriad of social networks available, the same question keeps coming up, “But with so many choices, how do we know where to focus our energy?”  And, it’s an excellent question.  Should a business be on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Foursquare, LinkedIn, GooglePlus or Instagram? 

Where should they focus their energy? 

It is downright overwhelming.  Overwhelming to the point that I feel sorry for the small businesses out there who don’t have any help in this area.  And, that seems to be the majority of the small businesses I have been in contact with lately.

Where do we spend our time?

It is most important to understand the goals and purpose of social media, before you decide where you will interact.  I believe that the goals and purpose of any social media presence should be:

  • Help you get discovered by people who are searching for your products or services 
  • Provide your company with an opportunity to build valuable relationships with these consumers and improve brand loyalty by engaging in meaningful dialogue
  • As a form of market research, social media participation lets you monitor conversations about your brand and interest trends within social media communities.
  • Facilitate the sharing of information between users
  • Increase your reach through conversation

Once you understand the goal of your presence within social media, you can then decide where that time will be spent.

For the majority of the small businesses, I believe that the best place to start is Facebook.  There are over 1 BILLION people using this social network, with the average person connected to 240 friends.  Over 93% of social media users believe that brands should have a presence within social media, and the majority of those people trust what their “friends” like within social media.  For those reasons, I believe that this should be the starting point for every business, as they embark on their social media strategy.

In addition, according to the Wall Street Journal, people are spending an average of 405 minutes per visit on Facebook, 89 minutes on Pinterest, and 21 minutes on Twitter.  So, you should be spending time where you are most able to get the return on your effort.

“Where are my customers?” 

Before embarking on your social campaign, you need to determine where your customers are spending their time.  Is it on Facebook (which, based on number of users, is likely), Twitter, Pinterest (with a user base that is 83% female), or LinkedIn (all business, all the time).  And, you can determine this by a simple poll, whether on your website or through an e-mail campaign.  Ask your audience where they would like to hear from you.

There will always be another network.

Most importantly, remember that these social networks are only tools.  They are a means to an end, the end being increased reach and engagement.  There will always be another latest and greatest tool, just around the corner.  Don’t get so focused on the tool that you forget your purpose, to engage, educate, and connect!

So, where are you connecting with your customers?  How did you decide that is where to connect?  Let’s talk in the comments, below.