I recently answered a question on LinkedIn about using multiple social media platforms in a social media strategy, and I thought it would be helpful to share it here on this website.
A Social Media Strategy for a business should be part of an overall business/marketing plan, since social media should be seen as a tool in the business owner’s toolbox, rather than an isolated strategy in itself. The purpose of Social Media activity can be as varied as the companies using them, but the commonly set goal of Social Media is to establish connections, build relationships, and engage in conversations with customers, prospects and your community of advocates in order to reinforce and extend your message beyond tradition networking and communication channels.
A Social Media Strategy is commonly designed to initiate and deepen relationships with one or more specific audiences, such as prospects, customers, referral sources, business partners, and members of the media. Its focus can be an extension of your customer service, business development, lead generation, and sales teams; and the ideal situation would be to enable these departments to “go social” where your external visitors expect to find and engage with the business.
An effective Social Media Strategy is anchored in excellent content that provides information of value to the audience, and reveals something unique about how the people at a company think and what is important to them. Distributing your content across multiple social media platforms and utilizing multiple touch points is vital to building brand awareness and connecting with your audience in ways that seem natural to the people you want to reach.
Ultimately, you may want to use your social media to share your content, as well as other peoples’ content that is of interest to your audience, and provide links that bring visitors back to your blog or website that you control. Setting up tracking mechanisms makes it possible to evaluate the performance of your social media efforts and determine which of your social media platforms are best at helping you accomplish your goals.
Which Social Media Platforms Should be Part of Your Social Media Strategy?
The social media platforms of choice will depend on the type of business and its intended audience, but I would generally categorize a blog or email newsletter as a type of social media platform, since blogs and email newsletters both allow for two-way communication between the publisher and their audience.
In order of importance for one of my long-term clients, a successful and growing CPA firm, the social media platforms of choice are:
1) Blog (for publishing industry-specific content on their own domain, which is great for SEO),
2) Email newsletter (to nurture prospects and maintain customer loyalty),
2) LinkedIn (to research and connect with prospective clients, expand the business network, identify and connect with new hires and business partners, build awareness of the company, announce product or service offerings, position the company in the marketplace, and keep tabs on the competition),
3) Twitter (to vastly extend the reach and ability to connect with diverse groups of referral sources, industry experts, prospects and clients, members of the media, and a wide range of others who are part of the audience),
4) Google+ (why GooglePlus? — it’s “Google” for one reason, so the platform cannot be ignored; plus it is becoming a an active and vibrant community for certain industries and interest groups for sharing photos, recommending links, segmenting messages among different audiences, publishing remarkable content and enabling video conferencing on the platform), and finally…
5) Facebook (although professional services, such as accounting, are not among the most commonly visited pages on that platform, but it is favored by B2C companies to build a community and increase word-of-mouth marketing).
In summary, multiple social media platforms are an important asset to your overall business/marketing plan, but they require skill and ability to listen to and truly engage with your audience, share useful or entertaining content, and remain agile and flexible in the ever-evolving digital media communications environment.