How many social media networks should I use for marketing?

Social media marketingMany marketers ask: “How many social networks should I use to promote my brand?” There is no absolute formula to answer this question, but here are some general guidelines. It is possible to dilute your efforts to a point of ineffectiveness if you use too many social networks. Quality over quantity.

The average budget spent on business blogs & social media has almost tripled in three years. In 2014 many businesses will hit a tipping point from “should invest” to “must invest” when it comes to social media.  With this increased focus comes increased pressure to make these platforms perform well. Many teams are over extended when it comes to social media proactive communications, publishing, analytics and automation.

In terms of defining the right number, we recommend at a high-level that a marketer or marketing team does not spread themselves too thin. If you are an individual managing the marketing of a small or medium sized business, then it is best to keep a practice of one to three platforms at once. If you extend beyond this number, you will most likely not be effective. Each social network requires time and study. Each have their idiosyncrasies. As you publish content, different social networks will respond to content differently. What goes viral on Stumbleupon may not do well on Facebook, for instance. If you dedicate the right time and effort to a community, you will learn how to package content appropriately for the network.

  • Focus on 1 to 3 social networks per dedicated marketer. More networks may dilute the quality of an author’s work.
  • Reduce the number of networks used to allow time for full community participation, meaningful engagement and performance monitoring.
  • Use the network authentically. Help others. Answer questions. Be authentic and share useful content.

Comfort and ease.
We recommend that you stick to platforms that you are comfortable with. This idea makes a lot of sense. If you are comfortable with a platform, you will be more motivated, responsive and capable.

Define purpose. 
Explore your existing analytics data to find which social platforms are sending the most traffic and engaging best with your brand. It may be a good idea to run tests to better understand the potential of a social network for your brand. For example, highly visual businesses may adapt well to Pinterest. News websites may be a natural fit for Twitter.

The most important part of social media marketing is to have authentic conversations with your customer base. If you just pitch products and services, social media users will ignore you or grow to hate your brand. Being authentic within a community is key to success. Add value to your social relationships. For many businesses, this may require a culture change, but it is worth it. Being authentic helps build trust. Trust is vital for branding, sales and happy customers.

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Ironpaper is a results-driven digital marketing agency. Ironpaper integrates design, technology and marketing for the web to drive meaningful results for clients. We are based in New York City and Charlotte, NC.