The Social Dilemma

I remember when I started working in the marketing field, social media was a completely foreign concept for businesses. Facebook had just launched, and the rest of the world was trying to figure out what it meant to “poke” another person on the platform and why anyone would care about learning what someone else was doing right that very moment. Businesses didn’t have Facebook pages much the less engage in newsfeeds and stories. They weren’t even available to do so yet.

The organization I worked at was less worried about being visible on social media and more worried about creating a culture within the confines of their control where social media was a faux pas. They set parameters around social media engagement, especially while employees were at work, and they definitely didn’t want you talking about the upcoming fundraising event on the platforms either.

Much has changed since then. In fact, many organizations now-a-days have an expectation that you maintain visibility and engagement with potential and current clients on a plethora of social media platforms. It’s become the way to spread the word, to garner visibility and to make meaningful connections for organizations, for business owners, for authors and for entrepreneurs.

What began as a seemingly harmless tool to rekindle long lost connections and share some photos has become a livelihood for many and the cornerstone of most marketing strategies for businesses and entrepreneurs. And the social media platforms are endless and constantly evolving. You have Facebook and Twitter … LinkedIn and Pinterest. Instagram is a must have, right, and now there are newer platforms like TikTok, Snapchat, Nextdoor and MeWe. And more and more platforms keep on coming.

So how do you know what social platforms you should be on and where you should invest your energy. There are many social dilemmas out there, but this one may take the cake for small business owners, entrepreneurs and authors.

The unfortunate reality is that this answer isn’t a cookie-cutter one and quite frankly, the answer will vary from person-to-person, business-to-business based on a multitude of factors. That said, there are three insights I share with each of my clients when this question arises which I believe are critical to determining which social media platforms you should have a presence.

Engaging on social without any strategy is like jumping into a pond without a life jacket and you can’t swim.

As with everything with business, you really must have a strategy to be most effective. So, ask yourself, why do you want to be on social media anyway? What is your reasoning to do so? Knowing your purpose can help guide you to which platform may be the best fit to meet your overarching goals. Not all social media platforms are created equal. In fact, many have different goals themselves, so knowing your goals and aligning them with the platforms’ goals may be a recipe for success.

You also want to know which social platforms that your target audiences engage most on. Do they skew to a younger demographic or are they always searching for bite-sized information? Do they tend to engage more with visuals or are they drawn most to videos? Knowing this can influence your strategy, and therefore, guide to you the social media platforms to be present on.

When you are starting out, it’s easier to juggle a few balls than try to juggle more than your hands could ever hold at once.

Not all marketers agree on this, but I believe it’s overwhelmingly true and I know that it impacts not just what you can accomplish, but how your followers perceive you. Sure, you can create accounts on all of the social media platforms out there, but if you aren’t engaging on them, it could actually do more harm than good.

Instead of trying to be visible everywhere, have purposeful visibility somewhere. Choose a few select and purposeful social media platforms to be on and create a meaningful strategic approach to each. Build your following on those platforms and engage with your potential and current clients in ways that will deepen their connection with you. Once you have a high level of comfortability on those platforms — knowing how to use them, how to engage best and how to manage your resources accordingly — then you can re-evaluate if you should add a new social media platform to the mix.

It’s always about them, but when it comes to social media, it’s also about you.

Before you dive in, take inventory on the time and resources that you are willing to devote to building your social media presence and engaging on the platforms accordingly. Are you planning to manage your social media engagement? If so, know that to be most effective you must be visible … and being visible requires time. How much time are you willing to give daily, weekly and monthly to plan and execute accordingly?

Now, rest assured that there are people available to help you if you’d like. Social media content strategists and digital business managers can help you create effective strategies and build out meaningful content. Heck, they can even execute on posting content for you! But it requires an investment, of course — a financial investment to build your team and still a time investment to ensure that your social media presence is authentic and meaningful to you. How much are you willing to invest?

Social media provides you endless opportunities and yet, continuously poses dilemmas for you. Which platforms will you be on? How much time are you willing to invest? What is your overall strategy and how does social media play a part of it? Take hold of these dilemmas and make them work for you and for your business.

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