I’m wrapping up my series on the marketing channels you need to consider for 2019 with our last channel: social networks. Don’t forget to consider the other channels we’ve discussed as you map out your 2019 plan.

Just to refresh your memory, they are:

  • Digital video
  • Podcasting
  • Infographics
  • Webinars and webcasts
  • Ratings and reviews
  • Website
  • Social networks

I remember when we launched our agency’s blog in 2007. Back then it was novel and felt very cutting edge. People were just starting to explore Facebook and Twitter for business, and there were a lot of people who declared that those channels were for personal use only and they’d never put their business in that sort of setting.

Fast-forward to today, and it’s absolutely clear that our businesses need to have a social presence. Business owners and marketing leaders need to decide HOW they want to engage on the various social channels but I would argue that there’s no decision to be made about whether or not you’re there.

There are quite a few decisions you need to make (or review) as you map out your social strategy.

Which networks should you invest in? There are way too many to be active on them all. This is definitely an “it’s better to be a mile deep and an inch wide” rather than the other way around situation. Social is all about making connections. If you’re posting and no one is responding, that might be a clue that either you’re on the wrong channel, or you’re not actually connecting with your audience.

And don’t discount smaller more niche channels. If you’re a veterinarian, dogster.com might be where you need to be. If you sell into the knitting and crocheting industry, try ravelry.com. Work with attorneys? Check out lawlink.com.

Who should you be talking to? This question should inform the “which channel” question as well. Imagine trying to start a conversation with someone if you had no idea who they were or what they cared about. It’s a lot easier to be interesting if you know your audience because, of course, being interesting is all about focusing on them and their needs, interests, and worries.

Who should you be? This is not a trick question. You need to decide how your brand shows up on social. Do you keep yourself at arm’s length? Are you 100% professional 100% of the time? Does your social activity come from the business’ founder/owner or is it created by the marketing department? How/where do you draw the line on topics that are controversial, like politics? Do you let your own opinions or practices (Merry Christmas versus Happy Holidays) influence your posts?

The key to answering this question correctly is that what your audience sees and feels from you online should match their in-person experience. You want to show up in the same way on the phone, in your store, online and on social.

How will you avoid selling? This may be the most important question of the bunch. Think of social networks as a perpetual first date. You don’t propose on a first date, and you don’t sell on social. You let them get to know, like and trust you and your company. You help, and you serve, and you give away your smarts. When they’re ready, they will ask you to sell them something. Then, you can sell.

This is the most common mistake marketers make. They crash the social party and demand that they become the center of attention. Keep the audience’s needs and interests front and center, and you’ll be a social hit!

I’d love to hear which channels make your cut for the coming year and how you’re going to explore in the next few months.