You might want to sit down, because what I’m about to tell you could be shocking.
I don’t use Facebook.
That’s not all––I don’t use Twitter, either. Or Instagram. Or Snapchat.
In fact, I only use two social media networks: LinkedIn and Reddit. It’s especially strange since I’m a content marketer, and there’s a lot of overlap between content marketing and social media marketing. At first, it sounds like it could hinder me, but it’s one of my professional secrets. Selectively using social media networks (SMNs) improves my productivity, enhances my knowledge, and generates more leads for me.
I know how counter cultural this idea is, but if you’re willing to pull the plug on SMNs, you and your business will be better for it. In this article, I’ll tell you why most SMNs are useless and how selective SMN usage is one of the best things you can do for your work.
The SMN Lie
SMNs are addictive by nature. You know you’ve had days when you tweet 70 times. Maybe you even check Facebook first thing in the morning.
And even from a business standpoint, SMNs can be just as addictive. Many business owners and marketers focus a large chunk of their efforts on SMNs. That’s because SMNs are hugely popular, so on the surface, they seem like a good place to market. After all, everyone’s on SMNs, and you need to go to where your customers are, right?
The problem here is that SMNs don’t provide a significant ROI. There are 4 main problems that SMNs present for marketers:
1) Poor conversion rates.
User interaction seems to be at its highest on social media, but many of those users are dead leads. People often like Facebook pages even though they don’t plan on buying a single thing. SMN activity has become such a second nature to people that it’s nearly a brainless activity, which makes for users who don’t convert.
I will admit that SMNs can be a good source of traffic and leads, but it requires a sizable investment to give a positive ROI. Even if you automate your activity, SMNs still suck time and money from you that you could be using elsewhere. While SMNs can be effective, there are much more powerful marketing channels you can use to get a bigger return, more user engagement, and increased conversions.
2) A personal environment.
Since people use SMNs to chronicle their life and talk to friends, they aren’t in a buying mood when they’re logged on. Of course, there are some exceptions (perhaps Pinterest), but in most cases, SMNs are personal. That means people will be mainly focusing on posting status updates and sharing tweets. Many people will scroll past a news feed ad without a second thought.
3) A colossal audience.
This doesn’t sound like a negative at first, since more people equal more potential customers. That’s true, but with such a wide and varied audience, SMNs can easily overwhelm marketers. It can be difficult to find a niche audience in an endless sea of users. And even if you find your niche, you still have problem #4…
4) Lots of noise.
Unless you’re in a niche vacuum, you’ll be going up against others who have been in your niche for a long time. And if your niche has a lot of competitors, it could be nearly impossible to make yourself seen. All your competitors are running Facebook ads, too. At that point, it almost becomes a game of luck.
5) Time suck.
We all know that people find themselves sucked into their SMNs, and it’s just as easy (if not easier) for marketers to do that. You can spend forever fine-tuning your ad campaign, researching your demographic, looking up competitors’ strategies––the list goes on.
Despite all of those problems, I do think SMNs can benefit marketers. The trick is to selectively use certain SMNs to achieve a specific aim. Thankfully, narrowing your focus and setting those defined goals is a fairly painless process.
The Selective SMN Process
Finding relevant SMNs and approaching them with a fixed goal is perhaps the best social media marketing strategy you can use. It not only saves you time and money, but also gives you a much better ROI. It also exposes your product or service to people who will find the most value in it.
There are 3 important questions to ask yourself in this process:
1) Where is your audience?
You need to answer this question specifically and narrowly. It’s not enough to find your demographic on every site and then call it a day.
Instead, find communities that are based around your niche. Then analyze the SMN that has the greatest activity within that niche community. That’s going to be your focus SMN.
2) What is the best method of outreach for your focus SMN?
If your focus SMN is Twitter, this could mean using specific hashtags to drive engagement. If it’s LinkedIn, this could mean publishing posts on LinkedIn Pulse to expose your product or service to thousands of new eyes. This will take some experimentation, but once you’ve found something that works, I recommend sticking with it.
3) How much time should I spend on this SMN?
Defeat time suck by blocking out a certain amount of time (say 10 minutes a day) to concentrating on your SMN. If you interact and post with targeted, distinct goals, you won’t have to automate anything, and you won’t waste time.
By answering those questions, you’ll essentially create a SMN strategy. Write it down, and keep it somewhere nearby until you’ve internalized it.
The power of this strategy comes from focussing on only one SMN. Once you have that down, you can move on to another SMN, but only if it’s also directly relevant. This is why I only concentrate on two SMNs.
If you want to have accounts on other SMNs, that’s fine––but either automate them or outsource the work. You need to spend time on your focus SMN. Focussing on the others will give you a poor ROI. There are countless programs to help you manage your SMNs, like Buffer and Swift Social.
You’ll find that concentrating on one SMN will enhance your productivity, improve your ROI, and give you more downtime. I also recommend not using SMNs for personal use (see problem #5 above). Eliminate the excess and keep only the essentials so you don’t waste a single second or penny.
Ian Chandler is a content marketer, brand storyteller, and writer based in Ohio. He is the author of The No B.S. Guide to Freelance Writing and editor of Nukeblogger. You can read more about content marketing at IanChandlerWriting.com.