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January 22, 2016

Cindy Penchina, President

Prioritizing Social Media

We get it. You’re a busy person. You spend all your time focusing on running and expanding your business. It can be hard to justify the time investment in developing – and then actually executinga social media strategy when you can’t see a quick ROI on it. Better to run some quick TV and PPC spots and get a rapid turnaround on your investment.

Well, not really. Over the last decade, social media has gone from being a curiosity for college kids to being an absolutely indispensable necessity for any business to invest in; for some users, it’s essentially proof that you’re even still in business. So if social media marketing isn’t a priority for you, it’s time to make it one.

But what if you don’t have the resources to dedicate to a full-court social media onslaught?

Well, that just means you have to prioritize.

While it’s generally desirable to have an active presence on as many social media channels as possible, sometimes that’s not practical, so if you only have limited resources to give to this effort, you need to figure out where you need to be. And that’s not always a simple matter. It depends on who you want to sell to – and where those people are.

Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Facebook & Twitter aren’t exactly amazing sales tools, but are excellent at building connections with users. Both are great if customer engagement is a priority, especially for service and retail businesses. And because adoption of both is nearly universal, you can be certain that your customers are there. But since these aren’t selling platforms, you need to make sure you aren’t using them for that. Both are best handled as ways to build & maintain brand awareness and connect & communicate with customers – and are especially valuable as ways to demonstrate you’re responsive to complaints!
  • Pinterest, in contrast, is absolutely a selling tool. It’s interest-driven instead of network-driven, which means that you’ll have an easier time reaching people who care about what you do – especially if what you do is “make or sell beautiful things.” Because it’s essentially a giant interactive pinboard, it’s a great place to build an online catalog with buy links included. If you’re going to focus on Pinterest, make sure you at least invest in a half-decent photographer, too. Be pretty.
  • LinkedIn is a great thing to focus on if you’re in a B2B industry, because it lets you focus on hands-on connections within professional groups who are explicitly there to find solutions to business problems. It’s a great way to build up your potential client base and get your business’s name out there – but it’s not for advertising. It requires a significant time investment, but can pay off massively. It's indispensable for a B2B social media strategy.
  • Google+, the red-headed stepchild of the online social world, does have a significant benefit behind it: it’s powered by, and subsequently prioritized by, the only search engine worth caring about (yeah, Bing, I see you, and I stand by it). A Google+ page for your business gets you very strong placement in Google searches, displaying your contact information, phone number, location, operating hours, and web address in one easy-to-read card right there on the search results page. So it’s kind of like making sure you’re in the phone book. It strengthens your indexing in Google search, so you want to at least take 20 minutes and set up a page, because even though it’s totally a ghost town and nobody actually lives there, literally everyone ends up visiting. Much like Las Vegas.

So prioritizing a social media platform depends on what your goals are. You should have a Facebook and Google+ page kind of no matter what, but you only need to really make Facebook or Twitter accounts active if you plan on really heavy customer engagement. LinkedIn, on the other hand, isn’t as huge an asset for, say, an online retailer as for a professional service or B2B enterprise.

Now, like I said above, you really want to be active and engaged on as many as you can. Every link, every organic share on Facebook, every like on Twitter, is indexed by Google and factors into your PageRank. Google cares about, well, what people care about. So your goal is to eventually be as promiscuous with social media platforms as you can. But until then, it’s about figuring where your time and money is best spent.

So take some time and figure out what you need to accomplish online, and prioritize your social media strategy accordingly. Whatever platform gets your attention, spend at least a couple of hours a week maintaining it, even if the rest get short shrift This gives you a firm foundation for a social media strategy that you can grow as you build up the resources – and gives you valuable practice in the meantime.

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