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How to Choose the Most Effective Social Networks for Your Brand

When I was in high school, I suffered from major FOMO (fear of missing out).

Like when I had to miss a bush party (yep, just a small town girl here) because our basketball team was on the road for a weekend tournament. I remember how I dreaded Monday morning before the bell, when I’d be ambushed with all the inside jokes I missed out on.

I can’t imagine going through that now, with real-time updates shared over Instagram and Snapchat. I totally get the struggle with social media over-filtering. Photos of friends laughing around the bonfire, giant flames licking the sky…

Of course, you wouldn’t see the repercussions suffered the next morning – whether in the form of gut rot from that six-pack of Smirnoff Ice or scolding from the parents you woke up at 1am while banging around the kitchen cupboards in your desperate search for a late night snack.

In a lot of ways, I’m glad social media didn’t exist prior to my university life.

At that point, I was still figuring out what I wanted to do with my days. The pressure to find my own way was hard enough without the availability of a microscope staring into the lives of my friends and “friends of friends.”

In high school, you can’t do it all.

You can’t be captain of the basketball team AND life of the party, while still maintaining straight A’s on your report card. After all, that’s why so many stereotypes are created during this time in your life. You find what you’re good at, where you’re comfortable, and you settle in.

I used to be the person who tried to do everything.

Eventually, the demands caught up to me and I had to make some tough decisions. I had to choose where to invest my time in order to get the most personal benefit.

Of course, I chose wrong many times before I finally got it right.

But when I did figure it out, I just knew I was where I was supposed to be.

Navigating through the different social media channels to find the right place for your brand is a similar experience. You think you need to be everywhere at once. Then you realize you don’t have the time (or mental capacity) for that. And your entire online reputation suffers; all because you let your FOMO lead the way.

When it comes to social media, it’s better to be really active and engaging in one platform than to be inconsistent in five.

Here’s how to figure out where you belong (and where you’ll see the highest ROI):

1. Determine how much time you have.

Most small business owners don’t have a lot of “extra” time to spend managing their social media platforms (hint: that’s where I come in). If time is of the essence, then don’t over commit.

Choose one primary social network, and invest your time and energy on building an audience there. Eventually, you may start to get a little stronger with your social media habits and branch out into additional networks. But wait until it’s the right time, and don’t spread yourself too thin.

 2. Find out where your audience is.

When deciding which social networks to start from, you’re going to have to do some legwork. Research where your prospective clients or customers tend to hang out online.

Pay attention to your website analytics, and look to see what social networks are driving the most traffic to your blog. Then go build your platform there. Of course, you’ll notice these audience behaviours will change over time, so pay attention to the insights and be prepared to adapt.

 3. Decide what platforms are most relevant to your brand.

While it’s important to know where your audience is, you should also consider what networks are most suitable for the type of content you are sharing. For example, if you’re heavily B2B focused, you may want to get started on LinkedIn. If your brand is very visual and creative, you may decide to launch on Pinterest or Instagram.

While they all have similarities, each social network has its own strengths and weaknesses. Make sure you consider how you want to present your content, and explore the pros and cons of each platform, before you dive in.

 4. Look for your competitors.

While I don’t think you need to avoid all communication with your competitors online, it is important that you’re aware of where they are and what they are doing. Performing an analysis like this can help you determine where and how to position your own brand.

Keeping an eye on your competitors will not only help you determine where your potential customers and clients are, but it may also present a gap that no one else in your industry is exploring right now.

There are many factors to consider when determining where your brand fits in online. And it just might feel a little bit like high school all over again. Just remember, in order to see the results, it’s worth going through the motions.

Do you have any tips to share about finding your place online? What social network do you spend the most time on for your brand? Let me know in the comments below.


Charlotte Ottaway

Charlotte is the founder of Web of Words. She helps solopreneurs and small business owners create real human connections online through blogging and social media. Her work has been published in Maclean's, Canadian Business, Zoomer, The Globe and Mail, The Huffington Post Canada and other Canadian publications. Better known by family and friends as Carly, she currently resides in Newmarket with her husband and fur-babe. To learn more, check out her portfolio at charlotteottaway.com and follow her on Twitter @charlottaway.

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