Social Media Engagement: How to Pick and Use The Right Networks

Posted by Douglas Burdett

With a social media engagement strategy, inbound marketers can make sure they not only pick the right social media networks, but also use the right tone and message in order to connect with their prospects, customers and advocates.

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When late night comedy show host Conan O'Brien was on NBC, he would predict the future in a segment called "In the Year 3,000."

In this recurring sketch, Mr. O’Brien and sidekick Andy Richter would give deadpan predictions for the future, while band member Richie Rosenberg chanted “in the year 3000″ in a falsetto.

One of the best predictions was "YouTube, Twitter and Facebook will merge to form one super time-wasting Web site called YouTwitFace."

The idea of just one social media network is appealing to marketers. With just one social media network, marketing would be a lot easier. Sort of like how much easier buying TV advertising was when there were just three networks, and no cable TV.

But to be effective in social media, marketers need to tailor their content for each of the social media platforms available today.

Developing a social media engagement strategy is a necessity for marketers, but one that is sometimes overlooked. When that happens, a type of "content blast" occurs whereby marketers try to push the same content through very different social media channels regardless of how it comes out.

The phenomenon is similar to when Twitter users could autopublish their tweets to LinkedIn. The LinkedIn stream would include incomprehensible tweets and hashtags. It was like watching a foreign film with bad voice dubbing. It didn't really make sense because while the tweets worked on Twitter, they didn't make as much sense on LinkedIn.

For effective social media engagement, marketers need to present the right content in the right social media context.

As with so much of effective Internet marketing, social media engagement strategy starts with buyer personas. That's where you develop an archetype of your ideal customer, to include their job descriptions, challenges, aspirations and content consumption habits.

One of the most important aspects of developing a social media engagement strategy to reach your buyer persona is to determine which social media platforms they use. Interviews with your buyer personas are an effective way to determine which social media networks they use. Another research approach is to field a survey and ask.

The point is to find the social media watering holes where your buyer personas congregate rather than expecting them to find you. You want to find the people who you're most interested in and who will be most interested in you. This will help you prioritize the best social media networks on which to focus your marketing efforts.

Once you've found the deepest social media watering holes for your community, keep in mind that people use their social media networks in different ways.

In a 2012 LinkedIn study "The Mindset Divide," it was found that people gravitate to different social media networks based on what frame of mind they're in. The main divide has to do with either spending time or investing time.

On personal networks like Facebook, people are interesting in connecting on a more personal, informal level. That's where they spend time.

On more professional networks like LinkedIn, however, people are more deliberate, hunting for information that can help them solve problems at work or advance their careers. In that case, they are investing time.

Knowing this helps marketers to match the right types of messages with the appropriate social network. On a more personal network like Facebook, you can be more entertaining or casual. On LinkedIn you can focus more on building their knowledge base.

Each network has its own personality. Here are some considerations for the four biggies:

  • Twitter - Great for building buzz quickly to a lot of people. The content and tone is more informal and requires less of a relationship with the audience to establish a connection. Obviously, however, Twitter is not good for long-form content since you only get 140 characters.
  • Facebook - Nothing better for putting a human face on a business. The most personal of the big social media networks, Facebook is great for boosting your company's likability. Remember to keep it as visual as possible.
  • LinkedIn - More formal. Great for sharing industry and business-focused content. Keep the conversations focused on business.
  • Google+ - Less active than the others, but great for optimizing for Google search. Also, very important for local search optimization.

What social media engagement strategies do you use? Please join the conversation below. And if you found this helpful, please share it with your network.

photo credit: Philip Taylor PT via photopin cc
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