You can’t possibly do it all and be everywhere. Even if you enjoy hanging out and consuming content in one place, that doesn’t mean that’s where you should be showing up as a business owner. There are so many different types of social platforms out there, and they all serve different niches best.
But there’s a social aspect to all of them and all of them will involve interacting with your audience- if you do them right.
What do I mean by that? Well, social media isn’t about dumping content on your profile and then walking away. It’s not about setting your social media scheduler and forgetting it. It’s about being social.
Using Social Media for Business vs. Personal Connection
A lot of business owners (myself included), have a lot of personal connections with clients and business friends. We’re Facebook friends. We have Voxer threads. We do virtual coffee chats and have a Slack channel to mastermind. These are people I show up for in ways that are different from how I show up for clients. (Though I will say that I’m Facebook friends with most of my clients too. If that’s not your style, that’s totally okay!) When I get on social media to scroll my personal profiles, I like to go through and see what my business friends are up to.
For personal use, I’m on Facebook and that’s it. That’s the only strictly personal profile I have.
When I want to connect with people for business, I will go to Instagram. I love watching Instagram Stories and replying back to connect more personally with others. It just feels good to me. I do have a few people I follow for personal reasons, people who run businesses that are of personal interest for me, and as I move into my rebrand, my current Instagram account will become much more of a personal account where I engage more for personal reasons. I’ll be starting a new account in the near future for the new brand.
Think about your own social media platforms and how you spend your time on social media. When you’re going on social media just to hang out, where do you typically go? Where do you have the best opportunity to make business connections? If you’re still unsure what all the different platforms are and their best uses, let’s go over them.
The Traditional Platforms
The four big platforms that so many of us old timers think of when it comes to social media: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. You cannot post and interact effectively on all these platforms and do it well. Choose one or two to double down on if you’re looking to gain more traction and grow your following and engagement. But make sure you survey your audience to find out whether that’s truly where they are or not.
The Social Search Engines
What about YouTube and Pinterest? Well, people call them social media all the time but they’re really not. These are actually search engines. Are they helpful for business? They can be. They are great places to share your content and keep it in front of people. I can’t point to any audience members or clients I have specifically gained from these platforms, but I do see increased traffic on my site from Pinterest.
The Content-Heavy Platforms
Tumblr, Reddit and Medium are ways for you to showcase your expertise and create your own original content, such as blog posts, articles, Q&As, etc. These are definitely more long-form and thought out than something like a Facebook post. However, when you’re using these platforms you do need to go back and make sure you’re interacting with others’ content and responding to comments.
The Fun, Video-Based Platforms
There are businesses out there that should be on platforms like TikTok and Snapchat. Is your audience full of Millennials or Gen Z? Is your brand incredibly engaging or visual? It might be beneficial for you to be there.
The Audio-Based Platforms
Apps like Voxer, WhatsApp and Telegram are more like communication tools than social media tools. They’re great ways to send quick messages to team members, clients, or business besties without having to schedule a call or send an email.
I have also seen Telegram specifically used as a content delivery tool. The business owner would post content to a subscriber only thread on a regular basis to help members work through specific challenges and to deliver a message. It was pretty cool because it’s easier and faster than a podcast and it’s delivered to a limited audience–so it was more personalized.
The Messaging-Based Platforms
Messenger, formerly Facebook Messenger, allows you to connect quickly with your FB friends–but it’s also a place where sleazy spammers will “drop into your DMs” to try to sell to you. You become FB friends with someone and they immediately jump into your messenger app and harass you. That said, Messenger CAN be an effective communication tool for your business if done right. It’s a 1:1 connection, which is so important.
But Slack? This is hands down my favorite platform–because not only can it be a social networking tool but it’s also an incredibly powerful time-saving tool for your business. I use it to communicate with my clients because I can’t keep up with emails. I’m also in a couple of networking communities on Slack where different groups of people can get together, undistracted by Facebook posts, and communicate about something of importance to them. For your business, you could host a Slack community for your audience, especially for a group of people in a low-cost program. You can deliver content there and your audience can consume it right in the app. Channels within your community can help you keep track of your messages–and you get to let go of the ENDLESS email threads.
Do You Know Where Your Audience is Hanging Out?
Unless you’ve surveyed your audience recently, probably not.
Ask them! Before you decide you’re going to open a Slack community or start a TikTok account for your business, make sure that’s where your audience is hanging out. Don’t waste your time and effort on something that just doesn’t resonate with your audience at all.
I had a client at one point who wanted to start a YouTube channel so badly. I asked her if her audience was there and she insisted they were, so I suggested she survey her audience. You know what she found? No one she surveyed actually wanted to watch a YouTube channel. But now she’s having great success with a podcast!
Your content needs to be about your audience, not you. If you’re not delivering what they want, where they want it, you’re not going to attract the right people to you.
So, find out where your audience is and then show up there.
And remember that you do not have to address your entire audience on a specific platform. If you decide to start a Telegram channel, it can be for a really narrow segment of your audience. It doesn’t have to be for everyone.