Gold, Silver and Bronze: Prioritizing Your Social Channels

Gold, Silver and Bronze: Prioritizing Your Social Channels



Social media works–but social media is a lot of work.

Many people get scared off from social media because it’s unfamiliar—while we all know how Facebook works by now, what exactly is the difference between Instagram Video and Vine? And should I care?

Others get scared off because doing social media right takes a lot of time,. And and most of us are so engaged in other things that we don’t necessarily have a lot of extra time.

So, in order to make best use of your time, we recommend that you prioritize.

Just like in the Olympics, on social media, we treat the #1 player different from the #2 player. Except on social media, we talk social channels, and all social channels are not created equal.

If you’re a restaurant, Yelp is a big deal (and LinkedIn isn’t). If you’re a computer systems integrator, the reverse is true.

What’s more, some channels make it easy for you to build an audience (Twitter, LinkedIn) and some don’t (YouTube, Vine). But you don’t need to be on every channel. Just because GE is on Pinterest doesn’t mean you need to be.

Here’s the simple solution. Prioritize your social channels into three categories:

  • Gold: Create content regularly, invest in building an audience
  • Silver: Create content, but don’t bother building an audience
  • Bronze: Use it when necessary, but don’t overinvest

Let’s see how it works in practice.

Gold: Every organization should have their own prioritization, but for the majority of us, Twitter is going to be a gold category. Twitter is the easiest to build an audience on (you can comment on anything and follow complete strangers). B2C organizations probably need to add Facebook (because that’s where the customers are), and B2B organizations will want to add LinkedIn (because that’s where the customers are).

Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn all have well-understood mechanisms for building your audience, and have a critical mass of users.  You should invest in building content and in building an audience on these platforms.

Silver: Some channels are great for creating content—Blogs, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest—but are tough to build an audience on. To be clear, you can build an audience on these channels, but it’s not as easy to do as it is on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. But, the marginal time spent building an audience on these channels creates less value than the same time spent building an audience on the other channels.

If you have unlimited time, double down and invest in getting people to subscribe to your YouTube channel. But if your time is constrained, use YouTube as your video host and Facebook and Twitter as your distribution channels.

The most difficult case is blogs. As RSS has declined, it’s has become much harder to build an audience. Email subscribers to your blog can be extremely valuable, but unless you’re blogging in long-form on very specific industry issues, you are better off building the audience on Twitter and promoting the blog there.

Frankly, if someone wants to subscribe to your blog, they will subscribe. bBut it will take a few visits before someone commits to subscribing. Twitter gives a taste of what you do, and doesn’t require a big emotional commitment. It depends on your conversion rate (are blog subscribers 10x more likely to become clients than Twitter followers?), but most of us are better off investing time in building a Twitter audience and luring them to the blog.

We recommend creating content on these platforms, but using the others for distribution.

Bronze: Use these sparingly. If Vine works for you, knock yourself out. But but use these platforms for experiments. Foursquare, Vine, Quora, etc. all are all good in their place. bBut they are not essential. Play with them, and see if you can create something good.

Special Award: Google+ is unique. Its principal value is giving you a front door to Google. This is a case where you don’t need to spend a lot of time creating content on it, but you do want to post to it regularly (especially your blog), because your most important reader (Google) cares about it a lot.

If you prioritize your social channels, you will see your highest ROI.

By all means, if you can build audiences on several platforms, it will only help build the number of people who care about you and who are exposed to your messages. But back in the real world, you can make a big difference by focusing on one or two channels and building those audiences well.

Reprinted by permission.

Image credit: CC by Manolo P.


About the author: Adrian Blake

Adrian began his career in the television industry, leading the international growth of Saturday Night Live and Comedy Central. Adrian has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and an A.B. from Harvard.

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