Whenever I do speaking or training events, I always get the question, “I’m a {insert profession here}, what social media channel is best for me?”.  You may think the answer would sound something like “Lawyers- LinkedIn, Designers – Instagram”. Well, it’s not that simple, and so my answer is always the same, and annoying, “it depends”.

Why? Because you won’t do what you don’t like or what doesn’t align with your communication style and content generation potential.

I worked with an IT professional who was also a photographer, and for her, aligning her images with blog content was a great opportunity for her to use Facebook and Instagram, which she admittedly preferred over LinkedIn. So why force it if something outside the ‘expected’ works better for you?

If you are a small business owner or independent professional without an entourage helping you tackle every social media channel, you have a decision to make, so here are some questions to help guide you:

    • Who am I trying to reach with my content and where am I more likely to reach them? Now, don’t buy into all the hype that only your grandparents are on Facebook and your high school kids are on Instagram. Everyone is everywhere. It’s just that some places may have a bigger party. So don’t let that make or break your decision and force yourself to work on a channel that doesn’t resonate with you.
    • How committed am I to growing an audience? Some channels are easier than others to get in front of people (LinkedIn & Instagram), and some require a lot more time and money to see growth (Facebook Pages & LinkedIn Company Pages).
    • Do I have the time and or desire to write, align content with visual media and research hashtag trends?
    • Do I love being in front of a camera or do I run for the hills at the mention of it?
    • Am I comfortable chiming in on conversations whether it is my co-worker or a stranger with a different opinion?
    • Am I willing to spend at least a limited budget on advertising?
    • Do I even like how the social channel works or am I avoiding it to save my reputation and sanity?

Now, a few things to consider in how your responses may help you in choosing a social channel to tackle as a priority:

    • LinkedIn: The easiest to stay fore of mind with your network through direct connections and the process of being consistent in connecting with new people. If you aren’t a content producer, LinkedIn is the one site where you could solely operate on article curation with your commentary and stay fairly fore of mind with your top connections. It’s all in how you position that content. Note that it is very important to engage with your network through their posts to be present and stand out. Now, you can certainly take things to the next level on LinkedIn like advertising and video, but, it is the one channel that doesn’t necessarily require it. With a strong connection strategy, communications with others and a consistent posting cadence, you can make a big impact without a big production or budget.
    • Facebook Pages: If you are just getting started or have hit a plateau, I’m going to be frank. You are going to need ad spend to make things happen here. It also depends on your business. For example – some of you may be in a highly referral based business where your own personal friends and family on Facebook could be a great start for you. But, if you are in something more specialized, and inviting your Facebook friends to like your page isn’t going to get you anywhere, you’re going to need to get creative. On Facebook, it is important to use strong visual media and strategic advertising to grow and to get in good favor with the algorithm.
    • Instagram: All pictures (or video) all the time. If you love the idea of creating a canvas of visual media to represent your brand and content, Instagram could be the place for you. While it can take some time to grow, if you make a strong visual impact, do relevant hashtag research, this can help you extend and grow to new audiences without as much ad spend as it might take to grow a Facebook Page. Also, Instagram loves genuine interaction. It is a lot more common to see a follow back to your account via genuine commentary on threads on Instagram than it is on Facebook. This is also because on Instagram it is easier to communicate brand-to-person (instead of just brand to brand) than it is on Facebook.
    • Twitter: Twitter can also be a tough place to grow a strong audience these days. Saturation levels are high and content moves fast. However, if you are a big conference or trade show participant, that can help. Twitter is also a great place to be incognito and simply use it for content curation, trendspotting, and competitive research. To grow strong brand awareness and following on Twitter, it is important to have several consistent posts daily and also have a good amount of interaction on other threads each day.
    • YouTube: If you do videos, YES. The bigger question on YouTube is, are you trying to grow a subscribership there, or simply using YouTube as a platform for SEO (search engine optimization) and potential traffic from YouTube search. More on that in a future post!

 

So now you’re still wondering, but what channel to do I choose? Well, I’m not like all the other social media consultants that tell you what you should do. Blanket directives and fear-based hype about where you ‘absolutely MUST be” don’t work. It’s about creating a strategy that is unique for you, your goals, and your personal style.

If you’re trying to get fit I wouldn’t tell you that you have to run a marathon if you’d rather dance, because you still wouldn’t do it or you’d hate it. And that sucks.

Ok, I lied, I do have one blanket directive: Get your brand name on every social channel if possible so no one else can take it from you. Then, if you don’t use that channel, you can simply hang out a shingle and let people know where to find you sharing your genius in a way that works best for you!

In part 2 we’ll talk about making sure your channels are fully optimized to maximize your impact.