The one thing to do to win at social media

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The longer I work with individuals and businesses to help them make use of digital marketing and social media, the more I believe that the best results are achieved by doing less.

Many marketers – myself included – have been guilty of going OTT with strategy recommendations… Usually quite early on in our careers, then we thankfully grow up and out of it.

What I mean in this instance, is that when developing digital and social media strategies, I used to outline a looong list of channels that should be used and how they should be used, and how this would all achieve great online success for the business.

The reality is, marketing is usually an extra task for many small businesses, and there is rarely someone employed full time to achieve it, nor the budget for an experienced external person to manage it. So giving a business owner not one more thing to do (marketing) but four, five or a dozen more things to do (various channels to update and manage etc) usually means that what ends up getting done, is zero.

While we KNOW that all of these various marketing techniques and tools are valuable, and can achieve success, it’s just not feasible to take on too much at once.

Strategies (and strategists) LOVE to include multiple, integrated channels and tactics. And I LOVE a good complex integrated channel diagram.

However, sometimes the best strategy is to pick just one thing. And do it REALLY well.

Thanks for the advice Erica, awesome. What should that one thing be though?

I’m glad you asked…

When developing a digital strategy, we do a lot of research into who the brand is, who the target audience is, and what digital and social media tools they like to use, and there is good reason for this. If you’re going to be investing time, money and energy into trying to market your business on a particular channel, then you want to know that the people you are trying to connect with are going to see it, let alone want to hear from you there.

To use an offline analogy, there’s no point investing in ads that appear on the inside of buses, if your target audience are unlikely to use public transport.

Fish where the fish are, as the saying goes.

And you shouldn’t try using a new digital tool JUST to try and get get new business.

Say what!?

Here’s an example from one of my clients…

I work with a small business who publishes occasional blog posts on their website, sends occasional enewsletters to their subscribers, publishes regular updates on their small, but engaged Facebook Page, and invests in Google Adwords, which drives a good quantity of traffic to their website, and leads to their business.

The owner recently asked me if they should “do” Twitter.

I said no.

Why?

Knowing what I know of their business:

  • They don’t have time to manage another channel
  • They personally don’t “get” or like Twitter (so will be unlikely to use it it regularly, whereby gain benefits from it over time, because it does take time)
  • There isn’t huge evidence that their target audience uses Twitter, especially to search for/consume information about their services
  • They would be better to improve what they are currently doing, than try to add more…

What I have learned over the years though, is that there is another important factor in choosing what digital or social media tool to focus on for your business…

Use what you love.

What I love!? But this isn’t about me! It should be about my customers!

Yes, yes it should. But it’s about you too.

Because if you don’t love it, you’re not going to use it (or not going to use it well) and your customers aren’t going to love it anyway…

This is a lesson that I’ve had to learn personally as well, which also impacts my professional life.

As a digital marketing professional, I’m expected to be up to speed with all of the latest technologies and platforms, which is a full time job in itself!

And I have a confession to make: I don’t get Snapchat.

Well, clearly I “get” what it does, how it works, and how it can be used by individuals and brands.

But personally, I don’t enjoy it. I don’t have a heap of friends who use it. And it offers me nothing that I can’t get on other social media channels that I enjoy using regularly.

This was a really difficult concept to come to terms with, until I listened to Kate Toon interviewing Moz man, Rand Fishkin, and he said exactly the same thing.

Rand Fishkin doesn’t get Snapchat.

And that’s okay.

As I said above, I still understand how it works, can make recommendations on how it could be used for relevant businesses, but I don’t have to use it personally. And that’s just fine.

The same goes for anyone looking to use digital or social media to develop their personal brand, or business: you don’t have to be everywhere.

Thankfully as our industry has matured, this sentiment is echoed by many of our peers, and most quality recommendations these days will encourage people to focus on a small number of channels and do them well.

I’m going a step further, to say that you should focus on the one that you love. And be awesome at it.

Now finding the one that you love might still require some investigation, but as I mature professionally, I’m getting better at helping people figure this out.

The best place to start is by looking at people’s personal social media habits.

If you are personally comfortable using a channel like Facebook, AND there is a natural affinity with your business and target audience, a natural step will be developing a Business Page.

With all business marketing, this still requires an understanding of the differences between what is suitable to post as your business or brand, or as yourself personally to your friends and family though. But it’s one thing.

If you are highly visual and love photographs, then using Instagram might be a good fit.

If you enjoy reading and sharing articles, and prefer to be quite succinct with your messages, Twitter is ideal.

And if you like to share frequent, fun, live and raw updates, consider Snapchat.

Just pick one.

And don’t force yourself to use something that you don’t get. Because no one else will either.

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