Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Which Social Networking Sites Are Best For Me?

This is a common question I get from clients and audience participants all the time. They want me to recommend the best social networking sites for their business.  

I can confidently say that in pretty much every single interaction I have with new clients and audience participants, the two most frequent questions I receive are:  “Which Social Networking Sites are best for business?"  and  "Are there specific social sites you prefer and recommend over others?”

In answering these questions, I could be foolish in my approach by rattling off the top social sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, and advise people to start building their online presence within these sites.  While these are some of the more popular sites, it would be completely irresponsible and unprofessional of me to recommend them without gathering some marketing intelligence.

A word of caution to you:  If a marketing or social media consultant starts telling you where to build your online community and presence without first understanding your business goals and objectives, who your customers are and where they hang out online, I recommend you RUN LIKE THE DICKENS because they are lacking a very key part of social media intelligence, and that’s the marketing strategy you put behind building your online social media presence.

Amazingly enough I see this happen all the time. Individuals and companies advising their clients to jump in and get their feet wet and start building a presence on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, without any thought or care as to finding out whether or not their client’s customers are gathering and collecting on these social sites.  

So the question becomes:  How do individuals, companies and non-profits looking to use social media as a way to market, brand and promote their business online determine which social networking sites are best suited for them?

The best way I can answer this question through a blog post without having the benefit of speaking with you directly, is to provide you with a list of questions you need ask yourself.  Find a place where you can give some serious thought and consideration in answering these questions, as they will help guide you through the process of determining and selecting the best social networking sites for your business intentions: 
  1. Do you have a business plan or marketing plan with well defined target markets, customers types and business development objectives?
  2. How do you see using social media to help you reach these customer types and achieve your business goals and objectives?
  3. Have you observed the social channels your customers are using to connect with you? Is it through email, making comments on your blog, connecting with you on specific social sites?
  4. Have you observed or questioned your customers to find out where they are gathering online?
  5. Is there a large crowd of your ideal customers gathering on certain social networks that warrant the time and financial investment it will take for you to build a presence, become connected and engaged in conversations on these social sites?
  6. What are your products and services?  Are there specific niche sites that you should be on versus general public sites?
  7. Have you observed your industry to see what some of the most successful companies are doing online within different social sites?  Where are they hanging out, how are they engaging, and are they having any success?

There is a whole lot more to social media than ‘Just Talking’.  

It goes back to marketing 101.  The social networks you build your presence on will be determined and driven by where your customers are collecting, gathering and hanging out online.  Find large hungry crowds that are interested in what your business or organization offers, and build your online presence within communities they are a part of, then serve up information that is most  relevant and important to them.