Without a doubt, one of the biggest mistakes I made in my first online business was believing I needed to be everywhere on social media.
I had a Facebook page, a personal profile plus three groups along with Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Snapchat, Medium, Quora, LinkedIn and YouTube.
I was spread too thin, spending so much time preparing content and monitoring my feeds, I didn’t have any time left to do everything else required to build a successful business. What’s worse, I was exhausted and broke.
In June 2018, I’d had enough. I closed my fitness business, changed my direction (from fitness to writing) and decided this time around, I would learn from my mistakes and do things differently.
I decided to strip back my commitments in order to free up time for self-care, as part of a new minimalist approach to business. The first platforms to go were redundant social media accounts — ones that were taking up lots of my time but not bringing in any new leads, clients or cash.
But I still had 5 or 6 accounts with decent follower counts or significant content libraries, so it was hard to decide where I should focus my time. Not wanting to get caught up in a content creation frenzy again, I realised I needed a strategy for determining the top social media sites for my business.
I started by giving myself a target. I would focus on, at most, 3 social media platforms and go deep on those. In order to identify which three platforms I’d use, I worked through the following strategy:
- Identify where your ideal clients spend their time.
- Analyse your strengths and learn how to use them to your advantage.
- Pinpoint your passion.
- Optional: Check your follower counts.
- Understand your goal.
- Reassess on a regular basis.
1. Identify where your ideal clients spend their time.
Everything in your business should always start with your ideal clients. So take some time to research the top social media sites for your clients. Try to understand why they use each network too.
Sure, most people have a Facebook profile, but some business owners use LinkedIn for their business more than they use Facebook. If you’re a business to business company, LinkedIn could be the place to be.
In contrast, if you’re a business to consumer company, you’ll likely have more success on consumer-based networks like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
You’re only going to get the best return on your investment of time if you’re posting your content where your ideal clients want to see it. So, identify where they’re looking for your content and put it in front of them.
2. Analyse your strengths and learn how to use them to your advantage.
The problem with trying to be everywhere on social media is unless you’re a master content creator, you’ll inevitably struggle to create high-quality content in all styles — written, images, video.
If you’re a writer who likes to write short, snappy one-liners, prioritise Twitter. For long-form writing, spend your time on Medium, Quora or producing articles on LinkedIn. If you’re a photographer, the natural choice is Instagram. Just like YouTube is the place to be for video.
Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t cross-post across networks. Content utilising any of these skills will likely perform well on Facebook and LinkedIn. So feel free to add these networks to your list as well.
3. Pinpoint your passion (or pay to use someone else’s).
Social media is about having fun, so where do you like to hang out and chat about your business?
Personally, I love writing, reading and no ads so my favourite network is Medium. If you love film and video, choose YouTube; photos, choose Instagram; one-liners, choose Twitter.
Make sure you consider your strengths though. If you love video, but it takes you several hours to edit one and you’re still not happy with the end product, consider Instagram or Facebook for video. Video still works on those platforms and the expectation for high quality, cinematic style videos isn’t as high.
4. Optional: Check your follower counts.
If you have another network that you love and/or have a large following and it isn’t on your list yet, you can add this option too. But only if it’s a network you want to spend your time on.
In my case, my top social media site in terms of follower count is Instagram, yet I haven’t posted there in almost a year because I’m never happy with the quality of my photos and I get significant anxiety around trying to post consistently. Instead of using Instagram, I prioritise the sites where my strengths allow me to shine.
5. Understand your goal.
It may seem counterintuitive that I’ve listed ‘understand your goal’ as the 5th step of the process, however, it’s essential that you complete the tasks above before you identify your goal. Otherwise, it’s all too easy to find yourself spending all of your time on a platform:
- where your clients aren’t (like trying to find CEO’s on Snapchat),
- that you dislike (like reading blog posts on Medium when you hate reading), or
- you aren’t good at (like a writer with no photography skills trying to build a killer Instagram account).
So now you have a list of potential top social media sites for your business, choose the 2 or 3 sites that you believe will most likely help you achieve your goal.
What goals might you have?
- Gaining more email subscribers (e.g. using Facebook ads);
- Receiving inbound leads in your inbox (e.g. by starting conversations on LinkedIn);
- Increasing ad revenue (e.g. on YouTube); or
- Attracting advertisers (e.g. on Instagram).
Once you know exactly what you’re trying to achieve, you should be able to narrow down your top social media sites so you can go all-in on, at most, 3 sites.
6. Reassess your top social media sites on a regular basis.
It’s important to analyse your choices at least every 3 months to determine whether or not you’re getting the results you’re aiming for. If not, you may need to tweak your strategy.
The results you’re looking for will depend on the goal you chose above. Are you:
- gaining enough email subscribers to warrant spending time on creating content for that platform?
- receiving inbound leads as a result of the content you’re putting on the platform?
- seeing an increase in ad revenue or receiving contacts from advertisers?
Whatever your goal, assess your platforms and confirm you’re getting a return on your investment of time (or cash if you’re paying someone else to manage your social strategy).
For example, about 2 months ago, I changed my strategy on LinkedIn from posting 1300 character updates to posting longer Articles.
In a follow-up assessment, I determined I was not gaining enough email subscribers from either method to warrant the time I was spending on creating the content. So I’ve pulled back on my LinkedIn strategy, and have switched my focus entirely to posting on Medium. I’ve also hired an expert to promote my blog on Pinterest — redirecting my social media strategy entirely.
If you’re not sure where you should be spending your time on social media, or you feel like you’re not getting the results you desire, work through the strategy discussed above. By the end of the exercise, you should have identified the top social media sites for your business.
Now, all that’s left is to create the content and promote, promote, promote.
Are you a freelancer who’s fed up with working twice as many hours as you used to, for a quarter of the cash, and a truck-tonne of responsibility to go with it?
Join my email course ‘7-Days to Stress-Free Success’ to discover the exact steps I took to flip my business from an excessively-expensive hobby to a future with food on the table.