As an organization, if you were to engage on just one social network, it would have to be Facebook, which dwarfs its rivals in both membership size and the passion of its audience (as measured by visits and time on site). But being on Facebook alone would be a mistake. You owe it to your business to participate on multiple networks. You should be using the strengths of the different platforms—and the different missions and mindsets of the people on them—so that you can achieve the following goals:
- Your brand’s social presence is essentially wherever consumers seek it
- You satisfy a breadth of consumer needs, including research, customer service, amusement, and immersion in the brand experience
- You amplify, echo, and support your key campaigns and brand messages consistently across multiple media
- You leverage the fixed costs of social media (program strategy, policy establishment, planning and staffing, analytics and technology investments) across a broader reach
Some social platforms excel as conduits for news, trends, and gossip. Others specialize in professional networking or rich media sharing. While every platform overlaps the user base of the others, users may be in a different mindset or have a different mission when they visit each one.
Note Facebook now captures 46% of all social media visits and an even higher share of online time. If you’re active on only one social network, Facebook is the one to choose.
When you crank up your social media program in the comprehensive, purposeful ways I’ll describe in this book, you generate millions of mostly free impressions seen by your customers and prospects. If you have a great brand, and if you’re ethical, authentic, humble, energetic, and creative, the vast majority of those brand impressions will be positive. You’ll create a personal face for your business—a persona that consistently reflects your brand’s values, participates in relevant online conversations wherever they are found, and is attuned to the distinct culture and atmosphere of each major social network.
While I do advocate that you be “essentially everywhere,” I don’t mean you should be active on every single network or social media site. For one thing, it would be impossible. There are countless me-too social media plays out there today, all vying for the very limited leisure time of members—and dollars of advertisers.
An analogy to search engines may be helpful. Search marketers long ago discovered that if you stopped with Google AdWords, you left some money on the table. Despite their smaller size, Yahoo and Bing remained platforms you couldn’t ignore for ROI and incremental reach.
But there was little additional benefit to building and managing search programs for second- and third-tier engines like Ask, AOL, FindWhat, and so on. You were already reaching 90% of searchers, so why expend time, effort, and money chasing the remaining 10%? Soon, lower-tier search engines began syndicating Google ads on their results pages, and the battle was over.
The same holds true for social networks. A brand can reach the lion’s share of all social media users, and can be exposed to almost two-thirds of all social media visits, solely by establishing a Facebook presence. Twitter, YouTube, and a few well-chosen others can nicely round out the picture.
It takes time for brands to learn each unique social media neighborhood and begin to feel at home. The smallest networks aren’t worth your attention as a marketer—unless they are special-interest sites directly aligned with your market niche