In today’s world, social media invades all parts of our lives, both personal and work-related. On the one hand, social media can seem like a big time-waster. We spend hours uploading photos, responding to comments, looking through our streams… and nothing of any importance seems to get done. On the other hand, social networks are incredible marketing tool that offer small businesses like ours an opportunity to be noticed among the corporate giants. The sheer number of social networks – Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, 500px – can be a daunting task to manage. The trick is to find ways to simplify and streamline the process… and not to let yourself get pulled-in by the mind-numbing draw of millions of posts that are vying for everyone’s attention. If you do it right, social networks can take your small business to new heights. Here are some tips on how to tame the growing Social Media Monster.
Content Creation vs. Content Consumption
Our goal for social networks is to minimize the amount of content we need to create while maximizing its consumption. What does that mean? Well, we only have a limited amount of time to spend writing blog posts, updating our websites, posting on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. And yet we want to be sure that the content we create is seen by as many people as possible. So if I write one blog post, I want to make sure everyone knows it’s out there. I need to get it to my followers on Google+, my subscribers on Twitter, and anywhere else possible to make it more visible.
Right now, we create almost all of content on our website. Content from our website is automatically syndicated to other social media platforms. Ideally, a single source of content would be preferable but Google+ doesn’t yet provide means for automatic syndication. In order to share with our very large audience on Google+, we need to manually share a link or copy and paste content. Facebook a different story. There are plenty of tools where your website content is directly fed into the Facebook feed. This makes posting on Facebook more consistent and creates much larger engagement for us.
There is one exception to this rule… posting photos. Photos are posted on Google+ and Facebook every few days. This direct posting takes a minimum amount of time and creates far more re-shares than the links alone.
Interaction on social networks is great for building personal relationships, too. But with the number of social networking sites growing like weeds, it’s hard to interact equally on all networks. For us, interaction is maximum on Facebook and Google+. Why? Because the site design and tools of Facebook and Google+ (such as the hangouts, video sharing, commenting) make it easy to interact with others who have similar interests. We also have more followers on Facebook and Google+ than on any other social networking site, so it’s a logical way to maximize the return on our time.
What about Other Social Networking Sites?
So… what about other social networking such as Instagram, Digg, Stumble Upon, 500px, and the rest? We do have a presence on some of these sites, but they play a very minor role because they don’t facilitate the right kind of interaction. When you measure interaction on social media sites, you must have a goal in mind. The single-most important goal for interaction on social media is for our audience to read the content that is posted on our website. While a +1 or likes are important, they don’t necessarily educate our audience. For this, social media such as Google+, Facebook, Flipboard, and Google Newstand that allows us to share a direct link to an article becomes our top priority. While we can certainly build an audience on 500px and Instagram, this doesn’t readily facilitate the kind of interaction that we are looking for.
The trick to taming the social networking monster is to limit content creation and manage interactions to make the most of the time spent. It takes discipline and forethought – but you can make social networks work for you.