Considering the success of social media marketing, and the time it demands, this is a critical question. The answer; your small business should use the networks best suited to your prospects, customers, and products. Well duh!?  Okay, how does one go about determining which networks to use?

How Much Time Can You Invest?

Social networks may be free, but social marketing isn’t. Social media isn’t advertising or selling—it’s persuading. Enticement is achieved by attracting your target audience, which isn’t accomplished through promotion; it’s done through interaction. And there’s the cost—time. How much time do you, or any employee, have to spend on social networks? All social networks require administration; most need daily maintenance. Network administration doesn’t mean posting all about you; it means sharing useful and valuable information while connecting with others. Remember—it’s attraction. People cannot be forced to follow you; they have to decide to follow you. Your best solution may be to concentrate on one or two networks—at least in the beginning.

Where Should Your Product or Service be Placed?

Your product should be presented where your audience is most likely to be. For example, if you’re a B2B and your only social presence is Facebook you may be missing the boat. While there’s nothing wrong with a biz-to-biz Facebook fan page, Facebook is more about consumers. If you want to reach businesses, LinkedIn is your market. Customer service initiatives might be best served on twitter, how to use your product or service on YouTube, and consumer round tables on Google plus; whom do you want to reach?

A Picture is a Worth…

Is your business visual? Do you have or can you create images, videos, or photos? Image content may be the most attractive media to post. If your business is photography or video the answer is obvious—post images. But what about businesses that lend themselves to images such as food service or preparation (please be careful with food photos there are already too many awful pictures of food), retail products, or…vehicle graphics? YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram are the current big three for images, but Flickr, Vine, Vimeo and other networks have been successfully used to launch business initiatives. Once again, it ties back to, how much time is available and where is your audience.

Where Does G+ Fit?

With 359 million users Google + isn’t the wasteland some portray it to be. Is it oriented towards businesses…or consumers? The answer is both, and the potential of Google chats for business is only now being explored. Consider this formula. G+= Google = SEO, any questions?

I Twitch for Twitter

Twitter isn’t for everyone. Personally, Twitter has been my favorite network for four years, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for your business. To begin with, it takes a lot of time. Where posting daily may be effective on most sites, Twitter demands more. Feeds should be reviewed throughout the day. Conversations and content sharing don’t only happen at 10:30 am or 2:15 pm—they happen when they happen. On the other hand, Twitter is a great place to keep up with customers and competition. It can be used to search for prospects and build an audience of like-minded people.

Here’s the Answer

Where should your small business spend its social networking capitol? Here’s my best suggestion. If you have time for two networks, Facebook and Linkedin—you’ll connect with business people who may help your B2C or B2B, and you’ll reach consumers on both sides of the social media fence. If you only have time you one…

• If you’re a B2C—Facebook

• A B2B—LinkedIn

This is an oversimplified answer, social media isn’t one size fits all, but it’s a good place to begin. Do you use social network marketing for your small business; what networks do you use?

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