Business social media is not the same as a middle class American bent on keeping up with the Joneses or Kardashians. If you’re a middle size or smaller business trying to keep up with industry giants on social media, we can save you from wasting a lot of time.

Here’s what keeping up looks like:

  • You think “everyone” is on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, so you create accounts and start posting.
  • Along comes the next glitzy newcomer and you think, “Nike has a beautiful Instagram account, shouldn’t we? Millions are on Pinterest browsing everything from wedding dresses to weed whackers, so that can’t be left out.”
  • You think focusing on only one or two sites will limit your reach, so you post sporadically on all of them.

This approach is both exhausting and ineffective. It actually hurts your company to have business social media pages with too little content and a tiny audience. Your business will benefit far more if you concentrate your time on no more than three sites carefully chosen to match your social media goals.

Limiting the sites to which you post grows more important as formerly free sites are making you pay to have your posts seen. On Facebook, your non-paid reach for a post is now about 6% of the folks who “like” your page. If your business needs to be on Facebook, you need a funded strategy.

How do you know which sites to focus on? That depends on two things: What you are trying to accomplish, and where your audience is spending time online.

Here’s a quick rundown on the social media options and the expected commitment of time and money.

Facebook: With over a billion users, Facebook has the largest audience. Be here if you sell directly to consumers. Post at least three times a week. Set a minimum threshold for post reach and pay enough to boost each post so that you get that reach. For $5 to $25 you can get a post into the News Feed of a few hundred to a few thousand users. Use Facebook’s great targeting tool to put your paid posts in front of the right people.

Twitter: This site is best for building a personal following, so it benefits celebrities, consultants, journalists and gurus of all kinds. Media reporters monitor Twitter, so use it to seek media attention. Tweet at least once a day and take part in relevant Twitter conversations, or you’ll never gain any traction. Pay for Promoted Tweets if you want to reach users who do not Follow your page.

LinkedIn: For companies that sell to the business world, this site is essential. Post relevant content at least once a week and use the site’s networking tools to build relationships. Pay money for a premium Business Plus account to send “InMail” messages to people who are not Connections and get access to advanced search features. Pay for Sponsored Posts if you want them shown to people who are not Connections.

Google+: Create an account even though this site is periodically reported to be clinging to Google life support, because it continues to be a major contributor to Google search results for businesses. Fill out your entire profile, but until further notice, you don’t need to post content if you don’t already have followers on this site. Stay tuned, though. With Google’s online power, the relative importance of posting on this site could change.

The rest: Business social media posters don’t need to spend time posting on smaller, consumer-oriented sites like Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram or Houzz unless a site is pulling in your niche audience; for example, Instagram for photographers and Houzz for interior designers.

Have a marketing challenge? Call Kim Landry at 484-829-0021 or email [email protected].

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