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A Simple Marketing Guide For Selecting Social Networks

  
  
  

Social Network Selection GuideAre your marketing mavens having difficulty keeping up with all the changes in social networks? Is this creating confusion about how to select the right ones for your business? Here's some help.

What Brian Solis Has To Say

Brian Solis is an internationally recognized New Media and social web thought leader. In 5 Ways a Google+ Brand Page Can +1 Customer Engagement he addresses the question of whether Google+ should be included in your marketing strategy. But there is more value to his answer than what relates to Google+. His approach will help you answer the broader question, what social networks should be part of your marketing strategy.

Key Factors In The Selection of Social Networks

1.  Customers will connect differently with brands on different social networks. "Brands that expect to take a similar approach to Google+ as with Facebook or Twitter, lessons will be taught through the inactions of users, rather than what they do or say.  Each network is different, as are the expectations of consumers within each network."
2.  Referring to Twitter's recently introduced brand pages as an example, Brian says, "...businesses will have to develop content and engagement strategies that deliver an alluring and meaningful experience that not only meets expectations, but does so specifically to each community."
3.  "Take a moment to see the long-term play." In other words, discover the long-term potential of a particular social network. In Google's case, for example, "The company is creating a social or personal OS and how your brand becomes a node in the human network requires design, intention, and value."
4.  Success requires work. As for Google, so for other social networks. "It’s like that old saying, 'You get out of something what you put into it.' The success you find in Google+ is directly tied to your investment. Knowing this, what are you going to change, inspire, cause, solve, learn, or teach? Your consumers will only circle and +1 you for the effort."

Brian concludes that there are advantages to engaging customers on Google+ and he offers five advantages in his blog post. (Follow link, above.)

Key Conclusions
More importantly, I believe, are these broad conclusions about social networks and marketing strategy:
1.  The effective use of social networks will require work: substantial, thoughtful hard work.
2.  Each social network must address itself to the different communities it will serve. There is no "one size fits all" approach.
3.  When evaluating the cost and benefit of using a particular social network, look to long-term potential.

Finally, I would add the savvy advice from Facebook pro Amy Porterfield. Don't try to use every social network. Discover the two or three that can make a difference in your business and stick with them.

A Simple Way To Start To Manage Your Social Network Strategy

Create a worksheet or download this template. Across the top create columns for your target audience, their social engagement needs (e.g. promotions, advance news), and their preferred method of interaction (e.g. photos, short messages).

For the rows, list the logical social networks you should consider. Identify their audience,  method of engagement, long-term potential (e.g. Google has more long-term potential than Pinterest, although Pinterest may be growing faster and have more press) and the engagement skills and time required to effectively manage them.

This will lay out the basic criteria for selection. Add your own rankings and start the selection process.

A final note: selecting social networks is serious work. This article and template do not minimize the work. They are intended to help you cut through the confusion and get started.

Want some guidance? Contact me and let's start a conversation to get your social networks selected.

Mission: To help small and mid-size businesses acquire customers by re-thinking their business and marketing strategies.

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