There are several questions I get asked about social media. But perhaps the biggest one is: "Should my small business be on just one social media platform or all of them?"
Just like there is no one-size-fits-all business plan, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. However, my rule of thumb is to pick one platform first and truly own it.
What does that mean? It means that rather than scattering yourself across all platforms with no consistency or focus, it would only help to prioritize just one to put all your energy toward and gain traction there.
Of course, which platform that should be becomes the next question. Most of the time, I tend to have to say Facebook because of the sheer volume of audience present on that platform.
But this wouldn't be the case if you're a company targeting Gen Z specifically (where it would be best to live on Instagram or possibly Snapchat ... but don't get me started about my branding concerns with Snapchat) or are focused on a more urban location (where Twitter tends to thrive). Plus, your business goals can be a factor as well.
So, why focus on just one (for at least a little while)?
1. An opportunity to dial in your message
It takes a great deal of expertise to juggle multiple messages and campaigns across several social media platforms.
If you're handling your social media yourself, focusing on a single platform helps you crowd out all the other noise from other platforms (and what you should and shouldn't be doing there) and lets you nail down a single voice for a single audience.
This is a great way to experiment and see what works and what doesn't consistently. Practice really does make perfect in this sense. While every platform does have it's own best practices, learning what worked on one can help you add in a second. Master that one, and then a third, and so on.
2. Time is of the essence
Unless your business is social media itself, you're likely very busy being an expert on many other things, as well as just running your business.
And if there's anything business owners need more of, it's time. So, cut yourself a little slack. Take one month to focus on the best platform with the most potential for engagement with your customers and potential clientele. Set aside an hour every Friday to: schedule out a few posts for the following week; engage with your audience; and review what's been working (or not) from the past week.
That's a good start for any beginner, but if you're looking to do a little more, there are tons of mobile apps that can help you engage and post in real time wherever you are depending on the social media platform. For example: Facebook doesn't just have the main Facebook app, it also offers apps for Messenger, Pages and Ads. There also are third-party apps, like Hootsuite, that can pull together the posting for most social media platforms.
3. Is your audience truly everywhere?
Let's be honest. As business owners, we never want to "limit" our potential client base, but "everyone" is not an effective targeting strategy on social media or anywhere else. You have to drill down to who your customers really are and speak to them.
Knowing the age range, habits, even gender of whom you're trying to reach will likely reveal which platform you're more likely to reach them on. And be specific in your message (rather than shooting buckshot for anyone who's around). That will build an engaged audience for you online ... and ultimately lead to that sales ROI with the right strategy. But it all starts with the specific "who" you're targeting.
At the end of the day, the idea is to be smart about your social media. Remember that you don't have to be all things to all platforms all the time. Yes, you must be online to be relevant to a majority of today's at-large audience, but pick what you can do well first, own your presence there and then look at the next step.
Social media should never have to be all or nothing. Consider what baby steps you can take and in what order to be successful.
Caren Roblin is the former Director of Content for the Sierra Nevada Media Group.