Do you gravitate towards a specific social media platform over others? You're not alone. In fact, most of us do. I'm a writer first and foremost, so I was drawn to Twitter for its focus on efficient use of 140 characters, and the viral potential within those characters. Others might have more interest in Instagram for its visual focus. Different people might be drawn to SnapChat for how personal and unfiltered it can be.
The thing is, if you're looking to create a truly impactful digital brand, focusing on what you're drawn to is less important than focusing on what your potential audience is consistently frequenting.
No matter the niche of your brand, different segments of your audience will spend time on different social media platforms such as SnapChat, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, and Pinterest. We're all humans, and creatures of habit. Many of us used specific social media platforms primarily for leisure and entertainment purposes before developing business-oriented goals for those platforms, so it's not surprising that we tend to gravitate towards particular platforms.
Each social media platform attracts different type of people, to a certain extent. There are different rules, and different expectations. The most successful digital brands are able to capitalize off of each platform's unique characteristics and use them to reach different segments of their target audience effectively.
If you're looking to create a successful brand with any sense of longevity, it is absolutely essential to master multiple channels of social media.
Social media platforms are used by millions of people every day, and are integral parts of many people's lives for networking, leisure, and informational purposes. That being said, we can't forget that these are privately owned, profit driven enterprises that can change or even shut down at the drop of a dime. The fact that a social media platform still provides a lot of utility to a lot of people,doesn't mean that its owners are guaranteed to keep that platform running forever. Don't put all your eggs in one basket. If you feel like you're not proficient in enough social media platforms yet, today could be a great day to put yourself out there and start something new.
Below are seven steps you can take whenever you're looking to jump start a new social media platform for your brand.
1. Define your purpose and set specific goals.
Figuring out your purpose and setting targeted goals for each social media platform that you use is absolutely essential. Maybe you want to build an Instagram account centered around your personal fashion choices, with the intent of being able to connect with fashion brands. Maybe you want to use Twitter to build a community around a specific cause. Whatever the case may be, take the time to figure out exactly what you want so that your efforts don't go to waste. If you need more clarity on defining purpose and setting specific goals, consider getting a Social Media Audit to figure out exactly where you stand.
2. Research your niche, and observe the leaders.
Information is free, and the people who fully capitalize off of what's out there are going to win. The great thing about social media platforms is that they're almost entirely public, making it easy to observe what makes niche leaders so successful at building their followings. Everything is out there in the open. Use this to your advantage, constantly! Be a constant student of the game. As you use each social media platform, observe the habits and methods that make influential people a valuable follow. As you continue to observe, think about how you can apply the principles that you observe to fit your own brand in a unique way.
3. Research influencers outside of your niche.
Odds are, you'll easily find the leaders within your field of interest once you start to connect with people on a social media platform. That being said, it's important to take time to observe and connect with leaders from different niches. This is a great way to encourage creative thought and out of the box ideas. Diversity of thought is just as important as expertise. Taking the time to seek out and learn from a variety of influential people will help you to distinguish yourself from the majority of the people in your niche.
4. Seek out "best practice" studies and tips.
Most social media platforms have extensive blogs and help desks that are designed to increase user engagement and familiarity. Why not take advantage? If you're serious about building an audience, taking the time to actually study the platforms you want to master will help you catch on and excel much more quickly.
In addition to native social media guides, consider seeking out strategy articles on Mashable, Social Media Examiner, and more. You also want to ensure that you're using email newsletters as a way to stay up to date on trends and tips. You can sign up for mine here! To get more intel on how to make the most out of your email inbox, check out my article on how to #MakeEmailGreatAgain.
5. Experiment with different types of multimedia.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. It's also likely to attract more interaction on Twitter than a tweet that only uses words. In this day and age, picture and video are becoming more and more important. Original, visual content that ties into your story and provides your audience with a ton of value will take you FAR. Need help creating your own visual content? Buffer created a great article on "the strategy of creating killer images," and Social Media Examiner has a good piece on "using video to boost social media marketing."
6. Cross-promote between platforms.
As you build an audience on multiple platforms, you'll need to tell a different part of your story on each platform. That being said, chances are high that you'll accrue different followers on each platform. Someone who's drawn to you on Instagram might still be inclined to follow you on Twitter and SnapChat as well, but only if they know what your accounts are. Finding natural, valuable ways to reference different platforms on all of your accounts, is a good way to make more connections with your audience. Take advantage.
7. Tell your email list.
"But Michell, I don't have an email list!" If you're saying that, I want to challenge you to consider the bottom line. Email is the most effective way to reach your audience, and it has more longevity than any social media network out there. Email was around long before any of your favorite social media platforms, and it will be there after they die out. If you don't have an email list, there's never been a better time to get started. Read more about exactly why email is so effective for marketers and brand builders via this excellent article on entrepreneur.com.
If you do already have an email list, capitalize off of that. Tell your audience! If you launch a new platform, make sure to put content on it first, and then find a fun way to announce it to your email list. Consider including links to all of your social media links in the signature of all your emails, and talk about what you use different platforms for conversationally within your emails.
A real life example...
Can you imagine having over a million followers and substantial income streams on one social media platform, only to be told that the platform will be shut down in the near future? That's exactly what happened to Vine superstars when Twitter announced the platform's imminent demise in late October.
Vine had over 200 million active users in its heyday. Didn't mean that it was sustainable. Consider how quickly the world changes these days. Even social media platforms that seem infallible right now could potentially fall off the charts in years to come.
Vine power players were surprised by the news, but not deterred. They quickly focused on converting their following on Vine to other platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. In fact, if you look at the feeds of Vine influencers such as MeechOnMars, Nathan Zed, and Victor Pope Jr have mostly been comprised direct references to the other social media platforms they've been building since Vine's demise was publicly announced.
It's also important to note that the majority of Vine stars had been building these other platforms BEFORE the announcement was made. Give yourself a gut check. If you're relying heavily on just one social media platform, consider what you'd do if that platform was suddenly taken away from you. What steps would you take? If you're serious about ensuring brand longevity, you'll start to take those steps now.