Find the ONE social media platform that you personally need to be on

Though it’s become pretty accepted that social media marketing is a necessary part of any business (and we’ll show how it translates directly into sales later this month with a case study), it’s much less clear how “hanging out” online actually translates to sales.

For social media marketing to be successful—especially for a small business that relies on building strong ties with a small group of loyal customers—it’s important to nurture your followers.

But too many businesses, both large and small, have spent years with their social media marketing set to blast: me, me, discount, me, me, sale, me, me, announcement.

Having an app auto-format and schedule social media updates based on your blog posts is not social media marketing. It’s unaimed spam.

Social media is as effective as you make it. There is no magic formula.

So let’s take a strategic approach and find the one social media platform that you personally really need to be on for your audience, skill set, and business focus to find the social media marketing approach that will propel your sales.

Discover Your Social Media Marketing Personality in 5 Questions

1. How do you like to communicate with your friends and relatives?
(a) Text message
(b) Facebook
(c) Phone or face-to-face

2. How much time do you have to spend on social media marketing?
(a) Snippets of time on my phone here and there in the car waiting to pick up the kids
(b) A solid hour or so in the evening after the kids have gone to bed
(c) Some time here and there throughout the week when the sitter is here, but nothing regular

3. What do you think of social media generally?
(a) Love the pace and the quantity of information being shared
(b) Find the sea of text overwhelming, but love posts with images
(c) Feel overwhelmed by the speed of sharing and often feel like you’re falling behind

4. What is the biggest positive side of social media to you?
(a) It’s a good way to keep in touch and keep track of lots of people easily
(b) It’s a great place to get inspiration
(c) It’s a great place to learn what’s going on in my area

5. What does your business sell?
(a) Services (like coaching)
(b) Custom products (like graphic design or writing)
(c) Digital products (like e-books or online courses)

What is Your Social Media Communication Style?

Mostly A’s? Try Facebook or Twitter

With short updates, lots of question asking and answering, and a never-ending sea of people to interact with, Twitter and Facebook are the place to be if you’re not intimidated by a constantly changing stream of social media interaction.

One of the biggest differences between Twitter and Facebook is demographics. Twitter is a place where (primarily) people who already have blogs or businesses hang out and talk amongst themselves. It’s less water cooler and more conference networking session. If you’re trying to get yourself and your business more exposure through mentions on big blogs and websites or partnerships, hang out there.

Facebook, on the other hand, is where the whole world (basically literally, but those with internet at least) hangs out. Getting noticed on Facebook is like getting people to stop at a tiny lemonade stand in a crowded mall on a Saturday afternoon. But it can be done. If your audience is the average Joe or Jane, this is where you should be.

Due to population size and the wide variety of interests among users, Twitter and Facebook are great places to grow your business from the ground up and meet and form relationships with potential new fans and partners.

Mostly B’s? Try Instagram or Pinterest

While image-based social media platforms used to be the hallmark of food and interior design folks, these platforms can now truly be used to any business as long as you have an eye for beauty.

Though Instagram and Pinterest are both image-based social media platforms, they have a very different user base. Instagram is more targeted toward users who are interacting through their phones, very savvy with hashtags and technology, and are apt to religiously follow other users. If you fit into this category yourself, there is huge income potential through Instagram from developing a loyal following that follows you to your website to buy.

Pinterest on the other hand is something users are much more likely to view on their computers, whether at home or work. In many ways, this means they have a higher chance of going forward and purchasing something they like from the website, but, on the other hand, the continuous scrolling set up means they are inundated with options, so your posts have to be very striking to make an impact.

If your work involves something visual, whether beautiful products or easily photographable services, these platforms can be a great fit. Even content producers or service providers whose businesses don’t revolve around images can make striking word-based graphic or incorporate process shots to build excitement for their businesses.

Mostly C’s? Try LinkedIn or Google+

If you don’t have a lot of time for social media or interest in using platforms that require constant upkeep, a longer-form social media platform is the best bet for you.

You can take the time to craft your ideas, post them into an area of the internet less crowded with minute-by-minute updates, and get them seen by real buyers and influencers, circumventing the rabble.

There have been moans that Google will be phasing out Google+, but a super-user with one million Google+ followers just shared with me earlier this month that they are actually still rolling out new features and he doesn’t see it going away anytime soon.

You can already write blog post-length updates on Google+ no matter your user level, but LinkedIn also has two programs, Influencer and Publisher, that allow you to post blog-length messages that are then promoted through the site.

If your business is aimed at other businesses, stick with LinkedIn. If you’re consumer-oriented, go with Google+.

Are there other social media platforms out there? Of course, but these are the main ones for our demographic, allowing you to have the best chance of forging both connections and conversions with your audience.

What social media platform have you found most successful for your business so far?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lisa Stein owns, is a college business professor and a mom to Gabriela and Elle. Lisa is dedicated to playing a part in helping women and moms run a business they love, help support themselves and their family and create a flexible lifestyle. You can find her online on Facebook and Twitter or at home burning something in the kitchen.