I gave some of the latest developments in social media a proper pasting in my last post, and deservedly so. But fair’s fair. In the interests of balance, I thought I’d talk about the plus side of using social networks for communicating, networking and marketing, and how to choose your weapons wisely.
There’s plenty of advice and guidance online about using social media for business, stuff like ‘how to’ guides and endless justifications for it. But because there’s very little about users’ real-life SMM experiences, the personal side, I’ve consciously taken a very personal angle.
Here’s what I’ve experienced so far.
Facebook – Exclusively for friends and family
There are only so many marketing hours in a day. If my business was image-led or I ran an ecommerce site like my friend Jane’s vintage clothing shop ‘Disgraceland‘, I’d promote it through Facebook. She sells impressive amounts of stock through the network. But after careful consideration I decided not to use Facebook for work since Twitter and G+ suit my freelance content creation business model so much better.
While I dislike the way it’s run, its algorithms, its interference in my choices, its data tactics and advertising strategies, Facebook has delivered wonderful things on a personal level. I’ve reconnected with a host of lovely people I’d lost touch with years ago, who I’d never have found otherwise. And we’ve enjoyed some great times together, meeting up in the real world and rediscovering the pleasure of each other’s company.
Pinterest – Wrong for my business model
Taking a common sense view, I’d be mad to use Pinterest to market my wares since copywriting isn’t the least bit visual. What on earth would I pin?
Twitter – Because it suits my business model best
I love Twitter best of all, mostly because it’s all about words and forces users to be succinct, but also because it’s beautifully simple.
I was a social media marketing sceptic at first but as it turns out, I make a lot of money through Twitter by winning new business friends and steadily turning a proportion of them into paying customers.
I only Tweet when I feel like it. If I’m not feeling sociable or I’m too busy, I don’t bother. Nevertheless, my ROI is pretty impressive and I ‘spend’ an awful lot less of my time than I generate in money. Looking at the numbers over the years I’ve been on Twitter, for every £1 of my time I spend I generate £4.
Twitter has also proved handy for making contacts with reliable WordPress experts and other providers my clients sometimes ask me to recommend.
And it’s hugely entertaining, too. I’m genuinely fond of some of the people I’ve ‘met’ through the network, especially those with a witty or wry turn of phrase, and have met some of them in real life. But I tend to drop people who do nothing but advertise at me – I am a human being first, a consumer second, and I believe that’s what good social media marketing is about.
Google Plus – Because you’re mad not to
It makes good business sense to have a Google Plus presence, since they’re the search engine of choice in Britain and it’s clear that being active on G+ can have valuable natural SEO and visibility benefits.
Having said that, I haven’t yet grasped its many complexities. I just share my blog posts with the one ‘circle’ I’ve bothered to create, called ‘people’. The reason? I find it confusing, the opposite of intuitive, a bit like Facebook on steroids.
If I ever have the time, energy and inclination I might explore G+ further and start using it more effectively for business networking. But until then, it’s a matter of expedience: I need to be on there, therefore I am. To be honest, I currently have no idea whether or not it delivers any marketing, SEO or natural search advantage, and because Twitter works so well for me I can’t bring myself to care.
LinkedIn – Because everyone else is there
I’m on LinkedIn because everyone else is. As a dedicated Twitter fan I find the interface far too messy and complicated, much like Facebook and G+. I guess it’s as good a place as any to stash my CV but other than that, I steer clear unless I want to update my profile.
Which social networks to use for business? It’s horses for courses
The point of all this? It goes to show that small business owners and freelancers don’t need to drive themselves nuts trying to spin every social network plate at once. Even if you cherry pick the best network for your circumstances and personality, you can still make money through social media.
It’s all about prioritisation. If, like me, you have limited time, it might be best to identify the most suitable networks for your business model then refine your choice by deciding which you like using most. If you’re going to spend time doing it, you may as well enjoy it.
I know in my case SMM works better – ie. generates more money – when I focus on one network and have a light presence on another, rather than try to juggle accounts on multiple networks.
What about your SMM experiences?
Do you use all the most popular social networks for marketing, or have you made a conscious choice to concentrate on one or two? Which network is the most suitable for your business model, and which has generated the most return on investment?