There has been a lot and even more speculation from the social media industry since Facebook announced less organic (e.g. free) reach between businesses and consumers online. This isn't the first time that Facebook has made a change to its algorithm to limit the amount of free exposure to push people to move to online advertising. Facebook is a great and central source that more than 2 billion people use. They are also a publicly traded company and are accountable to the investors of Facebook shares. Many are saying that now is the time to expand your reach and grow to other outlets, like Instagram (also owned by Facebook). So, what is a company to do, what is the right thing to do, and most importantly what is the wrong thing to do? Let's dig in and find out.
The crux of this mindset shift to diversify sounds great on paper and reminds me of the early 2000's when people jumped onto every social media outlet to claim their business name and then just let it sit. Kind of like a cybersquatting type of situation where people by names and never use them. We are told to diversify our investments for retirement so that we don't have all of our eggs in one basket. The problem comes to when there is only one basket available for our brand. That doesn't mean there are no options available to us. We have Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest. Snapchat, YouTube, Reddit, Flicker, Ello, and many more. What is a business owner to do with there are so many options?
What is too many social media outlets then? There is no magical number for any one company. What you need to ask is a deeper and more strategic question (which is what marketing is all about anyway). That question is "where are your customers at on the internet?". This isn't just your current customers but your future customers as well.
We are all seeing as social media or digital marketing consultants that your organic reach is continually diminishing. This means as you move to another social media outlet they will most likely take on the same role of limiting your organic reach. Don't let this scare you though. It will take time for social media companies to jump on the Facebook organic newsfeed shrinking bandwagon. They will all want to see what shakes out with Facebook.
If you don't know where your customers currently are there is a magical solution for this. It's called the real-world and asking them! We call that old-fashioned social networking which is extremely effective when you are marketing, even marketing online. You may find out that your customers are on no platform, even Facebook. They use their time differently and you need to think differently.
As the shift to less organic reach hits social media outlets a key sound continues to come back and was even part of the announcement that Facebook made. That is your website is critical to your marketing success. Facebook, like others, use a website as a ranking factor. If you cannot find a social media platform to expand to why not invest in the one thing that stays true through all of these algorithm changes? We believe and know for a fact, a website alone will not help. Social media alone will not help. They need to be used together; even if your reach is diminished due to algorithm changes.
Another key part of determining what is too many outlets is determining how much time and effort you can allocate to your social media marketing efforts. If you only have a half hour to allocate a day do not move beyond one outlet. A half hour we feel is still too minimal for one outlet. You need to allocate enough time that also doesn't prevent you from doing your work and growing your business. If all you do is sit on social media will you be taking care of your customers? If you are a social media company then yes. Otherwise, all those online efforts could actually be hurting your success.
As you grow your social media channels or even if you have just one you need to think of:
- If someone responds to your feed you need to respond in a timely manner.
- If someone asks questions you need to respond faster than you would with an email which is typically one business day. Social media lives seven days a week!
- If you are only doing it five days a week what happens during those other two days?
Too many channels are:
- Determine where your clients are
- How much time you have to allocate for success
- If your clients are on a channel but will not build trust, increase sales, or make people tell others positively about you then that channel may not be the right channel even if your customers are there.
Be strategic in what you do. Have a plan and not throw spaghetti against the wall and see what sticks. Look for what will help you grow the company without sacrificing customer service or the overall customer experience. Continue to build that trust and loyalty that will gain you more sales.