Where should I spend time on social media?

After reading last week’s post, 7 Ways to Create Connection on Instagram, a reader wrote in to ask if she should join Instagram. With so many social media channels to choose from, it can be hard to know where to focus. If you’re wondering where to spend your precious time online try this:

Google your name and/or your organization’s name.

Which social media channels are the top results? At a minimum, your profiles on these should be up to date. If you’re not using them anymore, they should be deleted, or the last post should direct people to where you’re spending time online now.

Research where your people congregate naturally.

  • Take a look at Pew Research Center’s stats about Social Media Use.
  • Search for your name and/or your organization’s name on the social media channels you’re considering using. Are people already mentioning you there? If you can’t access the social media channel without an account, find someone who has one and ask if you can use it to do some research.
  • Search for hashtags related to your work. Notice who is using them and how. Take a look at their bios. Do they seem like your people?
  • If it feels appropriate, ask your clients which social media channels they use. You could do this in person, or with a survey.

Look at the websites of leaders in your field. 

What social media channels are they active on and getting the most engagement on? If they’re posting a bunch of stuff, but no one is engaging with it, then either they’re not doing it very well, or it’s not where their people are. If they are receiving engagement, notice the type of content they’re sharing. You should never copy how someone is using social media, but you can certainly learn from it.

Reflect on your desires, skills, and time.

This is a tricky one. Some of the people I work with aren’t using social media because they say they don’t want to, or they don’t have time. Sometimes these are just excuses because they’re afraid to use it either because they don’t want to be so visible, they don’t want to fail, or the technology seems overwhelming.

Others aren’t using them well because they’re forcing themselves to use tools in a way that doesn’t resonate with them, they haven’t educated themselves on best practices, and/or they have overextended themselves. Unless they address these things, they may continue to have frustrating experiences on social media.

Ask yourself:

  • Am I excited to use this social media channel? If not, is it because I’m intimidated by the technology, or because it feels out of alignment with my skills or values? Can I imagine a way I could use it that would be enjoyable, be in alignment with my values, use my natural skills, and be valuable to my people? For example, if you “hate” Facebook, but you love to collect quotes, maybe you can share them there. If you’re more of a talker than a writer, could you create video, or audio posts rather than written updates? Think outside the box!
  • Do my team, or I have the skills needed to use this social media channel well? If not, how can I/we gain those skills (e.g. read articles, take a course online, hire a coach)?
  • Do my team, or I have time to use this social media channel well? If not, how could I/we carve out the time, decrease the scope of work, re-purpose content, and/or hire an additional person?

Even after you think about all of this, there’s no guarantee that the social media channel you choose will be the “right” one for you and your business. Oftentimes, you just have jump in and try it!

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