Consolidate and Dominate
Posted on January 01, 2014
Lately a lot of clients have been asking me for guidance on how they can more effectively run their Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram accounts - And even if I can run these social interactions for them. We'll get to the glaring social disconnect later of an external party interacting with your customers, but it seems to be a common misconception that for a business to be successful, they need to engage with every single social channel. This is definitely not true, and while being engaged in social arenas online can be good when there is a strategy in place, overcommitting in your online presence (which is typical when first venturing into the social arena) can even end up damaging your brand! The best social engagement is a mixture of things, depending on engagement style, followup, time to invest and benefits to provide – It's not just a matter of opening an account and magic happening…
Have a strategy about choosing your channel(s)
I can't stress enough to slow down before rushing off and trying to be active on every social network out there. It's definitely a good idea to sign up for the main ones, securing your brand online is an important part of an effective social strategy – You can just squat on the name though on social channels you aren't currently engaging with in case you decide to engage in the future.
What I want to point out though, is that there needs to be a reason you are engaging via a particular channel – More than just that people "are there", you are going to have to make this part of your day-to-day, and it's not a 5 minute thing. A plumber might find more use out of Facebook, however Twitter might not be enough. A florist would benefit greatly from Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest, but Google+ will be lacklustre. A carpet shop probably wouldn't find much engagement on Facebook but could use Instagram and Pinterest to great effect.
In short: grab your brand online, you just don't have to use it all, because you can actually do damage if you overcommit.
Being everywhere can be the same as being nowhere
If you decide to take the leap and be on every social media avenue you possibly can be (which isn't a bad thing, but works well for a rare few), then it's important to provide different experiences depending on the channel. Use Twitter to really leverage a personal conversation that has a point with customers individually, whereas use Facebook to start conversation with individuals en masse. Instagram is a great place to show off your stuff creatively and Pinterest can grab you feedback on sets of images.
Overcommitting to social media is when you have all the intentions of being active and using it for engagement – And then life happens and that idea goes out the window as quickly as it arrived. While you had good intentions, that partial activity that lays there dormant is actually damaging to your brand because it's as good as a date coming over and finding clothes strewn all over your bedroom floor that haven't been picked up for months – Not a good look.
If you find that you have overcommitted, all is not lost – At the risk of contradicting my previous point, sometimes it might pay to link your accounts together so that your Facebook posts get fed through to Twitter, or your Instagram photos get posted to Pinterest – Just to keep activity going. The alternative is to simply deactivate the account and retain the name you have secured yourself in case you decide to use it later. The other alternative is to spend some time measuring the effectiveness for your business and deciding whether engaging someone to perform that role for you might be worth it. I've always said that people should do it themselves because they know their business the best, but that's not always possible.
If you are engaging someone to manage your social interactions, make sure the engagement is to serve the right purpose. You should stay away from hiring an external party to carry on conversations with customers, however posting to your channels with business information is alright. Try to in-house as much as possible of course, but if you struggle with it, getting an external party to take over might be the best thing. Where they should really be spending their time though is focussing on purely advertising-based marketing for you via your social channels. These allow you to make as much of those channels as you can, they have measurable results and you aren't allowing someone to potentially wreak havoc on your brand. Facebook allows you to advertise, as does Twitter. Instagram is getting there with their advertising platform, Pinterest currently doesn't have an advertising mechanism and Google+ will never have one. These can be effective to be used either in lieu of, or in conjunction with other advertising and marketing your business does online or even offline!
Dominate with a few
The true successes in social can be had with dominating the few channels you can manage well. Doing too much is counter-productive and doing too little is not going to get you ahead. Take a good look at where you can actually integrate social media into your schedule, and if you can't, whether it's worth paying someone else to manage it for you.