Developing Your Social Media Platform Focus

(Note: this is the third in a series on developing a social media business plan. The first was about the market-defining story and the second about a social media SWOT analysis.) 

So, as a business owner looks into the world of social media, there are five big social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+. How do you sort and select? Do you deal with all five, choose one and focus, or what? I get this question a lot. 

social media strategy focus

My answer depends on several fundamental principles of all business strategy:

  1. Everything is rooted in context. There are no valid general best practices. It’s all case by case. 
  2. Everything you do rules out something else that you can’t do. You have limited resources. You can’t do everything, so you have to do the right things. 
  3. My favorite quote, from Bill Cosby: “The secret to failure is trying to please everybody.”

And then it depends, obviously, on the business specifics. And no generalizations work all that well. But there are some general indications that help. For example: 

  • Each of these main platforms is busily copying what’s good about the others. They are growing closer together. 
  • Facebook tends to be more about people, individual consumers, products, events, fashions (except where pictures are the key; Pinterest = pictures.) Facebook is not giving up on pictures. 
  • Twitter tends to be more about content, ideas, links, topics, and opinions. Experts do better on Twitter. Bloggers, consultants, and publishers tend to like Twitter. 
  • LinkedIn is about companies and careers. That’s changing especially fast with LinkedIn’s latest interface, which is adding the more popular features of Twiter. But if you want to reach businesses, and business owners (classic B-to-B) they might be in LinkedIn. 
  • Google+ is new and exciting. Techies love it. It’s built from ground up to do social media better than the other biggies. Detractors say it’s for Google employees. 
  • Pinterest is pictures. It’s more women than men. It’s full of great photos, plus posters, mottos, humor, and pictures of products. I saw an infographic saying Zappos gets more web visits from Pinterest than from Twitter. 

So what do you do with all this? Do all five? Here’s what we say about that:

  1. Focus on two or even one of the main platforms. Put the effort there. Post, read, engage, curate content, represent your business. For most businesses, that’s either Facebook and Twitter, or one of those two. 
  2. Yes, a real business has a presence on all five. It’s business, and people will search for you where they like to search, not where you want them to search. Don’t be absent. We’d recommend differently if you couldn’t post a profile on each of the big five without having to develop new business graphics, or new messaging. Just accommodate what you already have. It’s a matter of hours. 
  3. For the non-priority platforms, don’t just set up a profile and let it go. Take a minimum effort to maintain a presence. That could be as easy as five or ten posts per week on each, requiring a total of 20 minutes per platform, a half a morning per week. 

And which work for you? That’s a strategic decision. It depends on goals, business type, resources, people, and your specific identity, strengths, and weaknesses.