The Social Media Starting Kit (Part 2): Choosing Your Network & Beginning the Journey

It’s time to start posting, but where? While some assume having a presence everywhere is better, I would argue that a focused and highly social presence in a few places is better than an auto-post everywhere.

The key question to ask is…

Where is my audience?

Each business will have a slightly different answer to this question, and rightly so. Every audience is a bit different, and also how that audience behaves on social media varies. 

Two audiences, two approaches

For example, there is a huge running community on Twitter and Instagram, but their behavior on each platform varies. On Twitter, the runners are incredibly personal, communicating with each other, giving high fives, asking about health and weather conditions. (If you’re not familiar with Twitter, this is also non-standard behavior for a Twitter community.) On Instagram, the runners post new pictures of themselves every run. And, these are no beauty selfies. In the winter, the more snow flaked eyelashes, the better. And in the summer, red-faced and dripping is the norm. So, if you’re going to make inroads in this community as a business, you’d better count on making it personal and communicating early and often. 
The running audience is completely different from HR. On Twitter, HR is mostly tips and tricks, inforgraphics that share well, and eBooks. There are a few who have a distinct personality (William Tincup and Tim Sackett come to mind), but they are the exception rather than the rule. And, HR on Instagram? The major accounts have big follower numbers but for the most part are quiet with pictures of family, home and hobbies. An HR brand could neglect Instagram for quite some time and thrive (but they better be on LinkedIn). 

Your audience

Most businesses, as previously mentioned, are conceived in response to a problem, a problem the founder is experiencing. So, you know the problem and you’ve experienced it. 

You are the audience. Where are you on social media?

When I write, I imagine the reader as myself, right before I started thinking about or researching the topic at hand. This makes it easy to figure out what topics to pick and how much depth to get into and what kind of sense of humor to use. There aren’t really that many categories of people out there, so even if only 1 in 500 people happens to have my exact taste, with the insane reach of the internet, that turns into a lot of people. –Tim Urban @Medium

If you and your peers are more business-minded men in their mid-thirties to fifties, Twitter would be my go-to if your brand solves a business problem. I’d follow up with LinkedIn as well, as you probably have quite a few connections and use LinkedIn to search out vendors and competitors. 
If you are a homeschooling mom who has a solution to children’s horrific spelling, then Facebook would be the place for you to go. Although Facebook has recently become more challenging for brands, if that’s where your users hang out and think about your brand, go. 

Which platform is best?

The question is not really which is best, but which is best for your audience. The following infographic gives a great overview of the social media networks as well as which work best for which purpose. 

How do I begin?

The key here is to create a business profile and begin posting. You’ve already got your brand essentials, as well as the design ability of Canva for the visuals. The key now is to choose your social media platform and begin. 

Only one or two to start…seriously

In the beginning, choose the one or two networks with the most punch for your audience. Social media, good social media, takes time and presence. If you are chasing five or six profiles, trying to find audiences, communicate with your followers, and post with enough regularity to remain relevant, you will quickly become exhausted and throw your hands up. There is only so much time, and it is best to invest that time wisely where you need to be. 

Your Profile

Beginning a social media platform for a brand is a bit different from building one for an individual. All you need to begin a personal Instagram page is a phone and wifi. For a business profile, you’ll need brand images, a tagline or message, and a best practices guide to follow to ensure you hit all the highlights. 
(The first stage of any social media marketing is a brand audit, and I find many small business owners do not take the time to build a profile. They end up posting great content, but as an egghead–a Twitter handle without a well-built profile–they’ll never get the followers they’re after.)

Best Practices Guides 

(These are my favorite…no need to re-invent the wheel)
Once you’ve got the profile set up, it’s time to begin posting and managing your social media. Next time, I’ll go over my favorite tips and tricks for keeping your social media machine in line. 

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