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Sustainable Social MediaFor many business owners the topic of social media can be overwhelming. There are so many possible platforms from which to broadcast your marketing message that you can become paralyzed by indecision. In this post I will highlight the benefits (and drawbacks) of the most common platforms and provide a list of suggestions for creating a plan to make your effort sustainable (a key factor).

Choosing which social medial platform you’ll utilize should be based primarily on which one has the greatest potential for your reaching your target audience, supports the type of content you’ll be broadcasting, and can be maintained at a level it requires to be effective.

Facebook

Facebook is huge and because of this makes it attractive for any business. It provides the immediacy needed for establishing relationships because you can reply directly to customers comments or questions, but it’s also about long-term commitments.

Facebook isn’t about selling. It’s the place for you to let customers know about your brand. Use photos and video to give your audience some insight into who they may one day be doing business with. And like all social media platforms, make sure the content isn’t all about you, but features your customers and the good works they may be involved with.

Comments are visible to the group so participating (responding to the good and the bad) is essential and requires a consistent level of effort.

Pinterest

Pinterest is almost entirely visually based. You share pictures, videos, and other images by adding them to “pinboards”.

The users of Pinterest are predominately female, so is perfect for businesses which use visual imagery as a selling point. Fashion, food, interior decorating, travel, and design are just some of the many industries who can benefit from Pinterest. You can comment, share content, and link to the webpages from where the image came.

Finding images to pin is done easily by installing a Pinterest extension in your browser so that you can take advantage of the time you’re online.

One to two pins a day of your own content is a good place to start but spend time to find and curate the content of others that are synergistic with your message.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the social network for business. Networking is its key benefit and it’s a great platform for establishing and utilizing connections in the business world.

There are also groups and discussion forums where you can participate on subjects that interest you. This is also a perfect place to share your expertise and by being helpful and transparent and possibly impress those that may buy from you in the future. It’s not much of a visual medium, but you can post links to your business blog[ Add link to 3 Tips for a Better business Blog] or website.

Selling with even a subtle message is frowned upon, so plan on the long game if you decide to use this platform.

YouTube

YouTube is now the second biggest search engine after Google. So not only is it the best place to position your video, screencast, or slideshow, tagging your content gives it a reach that is extremely valuable.

To use YouTube effectively to display your product or service doesn’t necessarily require you to be super-creative or spend a lot of money, but planning to go “viral” is a fools errand. Just have clear audio and don’t be boring. Spending the time to edit your video for pace is time never wasted.

Videos that demonstrate a product or offer a how-to lesson are some of the most highly searched content on this platform. Even demonstrating a product you use in your business can be beneficial for furthering your brand reach.

If you’re like many people and abhor the idea of being in front of the camera, don’t let that deter you. Find someone to represent your brand or use a voiceover to add the personal touch.

Twitter

Because this platform is like a fast-moving conversation, it requires a lot of attention and effort. Unlike some of the other social media channels, where people can participate on their own schedule, Twitter is more “in the moment”.

If your business needs to be in contact with people immediately and you’re ready to respond to replies (think entertainment, food truck, news outlet), then Twitter could be perfect for you.

However, unless you have a constant stream of content and are ready to be available when people mention your business so that you can engage quickly, Twitter maybe too much effort for you to sustain reasonably.

Instagram

Think of Instagram as a combination of Twitter and Pinterest; fast moving and visually-based. This platform favors personal branding but can be used for a business, especially if your business has a distinct personality (think fashion brands). Be prepared to contribute content frequently and consistently.

It's impractical to try and be on all platforms, so choose the one or two that best meet your needs. And constantly be monitoring them. Social media only works if you stay involved. Click To Tweet

Three Tips

Pick a Primary and Secondary Platform

For example, if your product or service is best conveyed in a visual medium (custom home builder, car detailing service), then platforms like Pinterest or YouTube will serve this purpose well. A good supportive secondary choice would be Facebook because you can leverage your visual content and add additional text.

Whichever combination you choose, closely monitor traffic and remain engaged. Having a long-term mindset will be beneficial. Give your effort 9-12 months to show measurable results.

Establish a Voice

The “voice” you use for your posts should convey both your principles and the personality of your business, so it’s important to make sure the person or people who are responsible for your campaign understand this. Role playing and writing sample tweets, posts, or videos are critical to fine-tuning this aspect of your marketing.

Know Your Audience

Define the demographics of your predominate customer by gender, age, geography, interests, and whatever else you think is a common denominator. This will inform your decisions regarding on which platform to concentrate your efforts. Naturally, you will want to be on the ones of your current and prospective customers.

It might be tempting to be on as many channels as possible, but even if you had the resources, it probably wouldn’t be sustainable. And you may just end up being average in a lot of different places. Pick the one or two platforms that support your goals and put in the time. You’ll be rewarded!

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