Businesses and brands love social media. In fact, a recent Pew study indicated that nearly 90% of marketers use social media for business. At the same time, many new small businesses are born every day. And trying to figure out where to begin with your social media marketing efforts these days can be quite overwhelming for many new business owners. No effort should begin without formulating a plan, taking into consideration your target markets and what you wish to accomplish (i.e. build awareness, foster loyalty, gather intelligence, drive traffic to your physical business or website, etc.). Based upon this, you can begin assembling your social media strategy. It is best to try focusing on one or two social networks initially, branching out as you become more comfortable with social media marketing.
If your target audience is individual consumers, we recommend that you start with a Facebook page, since a large demographic is present on this service. If you are targeting young, tech-savvy people, you could consider adding Twitter or Instagram as a second network. Instagram integrates seamlessly with both Twitter and Facebook, so setting up an integrated Facebook-Twitter-Instagram presence could be an effective way to extend your messaging reach. If your main focus is reaching women, however, it would be better to add Pinterest as your second network.
If you are mainly targeting professionals or business-to-business sales, you should focus primarily on LinkedIn. When you have additional time to dedicate to social media marketing, add consumer-focused social networks.
Overall, the biggest limiting factor for social media marketing is the amount of time you are willing to dedicate to maintaining your various online presences. People will only remain engaged with your brand if you regularly post high-quality content. It is better to have fewer well-curated accounts than it is to spread yourself too thin and not deliver quality content to your users. You should definitely mix advertising into your social media content, but you will find it much harder to attract followers if you only bombard them with ads. Don’t expect to master social media marketing overnight. Stick with it, and you will find your voice as you gain experience.
Which Social Network Should You Pick
Businesses that sell directly to consumers should almost always start with Facebook. The majority of people that use the Internet also use Facebook. Businesses that sell to other businesses, or business professionals, should almost always start with LinkedIn. Most white-collar professionals are on LinkedIn and they are there specifically to network and learn about other businesses.
Before you begin choosing which social networks to focus on, it is important to understand that social media marketing is only valuable if you dedicate enough time to actively engage with your customer base. Having 10,000 Facebook followers is useless unless you communicate effectively with them. You can expect to spend at least 30 minutes per day to maintain a minimal social media presence. If your goal is to build a robust community around your brand, you may need to invest 5-10 hours per week.
Only you will be able to tell if investing this amount of time is worth it for you and your business. Capturing the effectiveness of social media marketing is notoriously difficult, so you will likely have to rely on your intuition and anecdotal evidence to evaluate whether your social media marketing is having a worthwhile impact.