A year ago, no one had ever heard of Google+ or Pinterest. Today, they’re right up there alongside Twitter and Facebook as the place to be online.
But let’s be honest – marketing just isn’t your thing. You have a business to build and clients to serve. You certainly don’t want to spend hours of your time each day on social media sites.
So how do you know which social media sites are right for your business?
Think of each social media site as a different type of party. The party you decide to attend depends on two things: the party’s vibe, and the people who are there.
Your Party Options
Each of the social media sites has their own vibe. So the first step in accepting your party invitation is to figure out which party, or parties, you like best.
Facebook is your party if you’re meeting a lot of people in your business (in person, at networking events, etc.) and need a way to continue connecting with them.
Hanging out on Facebook is like inviting a bunch of people that you don’t know very well over to your house for dinner. The conversations probably start off with some “get to know you” stuff, but later in the evening you’ll hear some real connections being made, both between guests and between you and your guests.
If Facebook is a dinner party, Twitter is a cocktail networking hour. People are coming and going from the bar all the time, and you’re meeting a mix of prospective clients, interesting people, and other people in your industry. Most of the conversations are small talk and one-liners, but every now and again someone drops in a useful resource or piece of advice.
Arriving at the Pinterest party is a lot like arriving at an art reception – there’s cool stuff to look at everywhere. From funny quotes to stunning pictures of vacation destinations and the newest fashion trends, there’s something for everyone. Pinterest is the place to be if you want to throw a visual party and meet lots of new faces.
Driving up to the Google+ party is akin to playing Russian Roulette – when you step through the front door, you’ll see unfamiliar faces, a small group of your closest friends, or something in between. That’s because Google+’s privacy features allow you to choose who’s invited to your party. You can host a dinner party of your closest friends, a cocktail hour for new faces, or invite everyone you know who are interested in rock climbing to a special brunch. The possibilities are endless!
Who’s at the Party?
Now that you know what kind of party you’d like to attend, let’s answer the second question: are your potential clients hanging out at the same party?
The easiest way to figure this out is to ask. Ask your current and past clients, the folks on your email list, and any social media connections that you already have. Find out which social media sites they hang out on, and what they do there.
The second part of that question – what do you do there? – is super-important. If your clients only use Facebook to get the latest pictures of their grandchildren, it may not be the best place to party hardy.
The other way to figure this out is to research other people in your industry. If you’re a wedding photographer, where do other wedding photographers interact with their clients online? Take a look at their social media profiles – it’s easy to see how many people are connected with them.
Also pay attention to what they’re saying on their social media sites – are they meeting new people, continuing relationships with prospective clients, or networking? All of these questions will help you figure out where your potential clients are hanging out.
Pick Your Party
Choosing the right social media site for your business is a combination of which party feels best to you, and where your customers are hanging out. Ideally, the two things intersect in the same social media site.
If they don’t, choose the site where you want to party over where your customers are hanging out. There’s nothing worse than going to a party where it’s obvious that the host or hostess would rather be doing something – anything – else.
One cautionary note: don’t host multiple parties. It’s OK to host two, if they are two very different kinds of parties. But the more parties you host, the more distracted you become, and the less attention you pay to your guests. Do yourself and your potential clients the courtesy of hosting a party that you want to attend.
Where are you going to host your online party? Let me know in the comments below – I’d love to be invited!
This post was originally published as a guest post on The Simple Art of Business.
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