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Business Unplugged™
This blog features Carol Roth's tough love on business and entrepreneurship, as well as insights from Carol's community of contributors.

Questions to Ask Before Committing to a New Social Media Platform

Written By: Mark E. Goodman | Comments Off on Questions to Ask Before Committing to a New Social Media Platform

good-social-media-postOne of my clients called a couple of weeks ago in a panic.  He asked, “Why are we not on Snapchat, Instagram or Periscope?”  He commented that his company had established presence on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, but then added, “Nobody uses those sites anymore!”

I replied, “Good question, but not the first one to ask.”

“What do you mean?” he asked.  I added, Here are the questions to ask first.”

1. Who is your target market? Analyzing your target customer will help identify what platforms to use and what kind of content to create.  If personality-based content is needed (a blog post or video), you need to use a member of your target market as either the content creator or content host.

For example, if you are selling bridal dresses, perhaps your content creator should be a new bride, but if you are selling bridal catering, you may want to feature someone who also connects well with the mother or father of the bride, as opposed to just the bride.

2. What problem do you solve? No matter what social media platform you use, you need to create content that connects with the reader / viewer.  Many searches focus on getting a specific answer to a problem.  Understanding the problem and creating content that addresses the problem will focus the discussion around what makes your business special.  It also helps move the discussion away from cost or price.

Creating a set of questions and answers in small bits yields several posts, as opposed to the traditional brochure or promo piece that answers every question in one piece.  Don’t make a viewer search a 10-minute video to find one answer.  Instead, provide 10 one-minute videos so they can find the answer to their question immediately.

3. What is your call to action? Assuming that you attract an audience through a social media platform, what is the next step in the sales process?  What do you have to offer them?  In the business-to-business environment, a call to action might be a free consultation or an invitation to attend a webinar.

Software companies will often offer a free download of a trial version.  In consumer situations, companies will sometimes offer a discount for users or viewers.

Also, consider using an invitation to join a special group of loyal readers / viewers.

4. What kind of social media tools are you using today? Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are established.  If you have worked to create a presence in these environments, they can be used to test ideas for content before trying a new platform.  Before you start something new, make sure you are using your existing platforms effectively.  If your current platforms are not working well for you, analyze why that is and fix the problem(s) first.

Begin as an observer

Before you start to create and post content, join as a user and just participate.  See what kind of content you like.  (Your viewers often like the same kind of content that you like.)

Look at how the power users interact with their audience.  What are the techniques being used to move the viewers to the next step in the sales cycle?  Comment and repost other people’s content.  Keep notes on what kind of conversations you participate in.

Plan for content creation

Think about what kind of content you need to create for that specific platform.  The newer ones typically require a finely tuned, high-volume content creation plan.  Please note that successful users post regularly.

For example, if you are thinking about using Instagram, what is your ability to regularly create photo content?  Are you going to exclusively post business content or do you want to give your viewers some insights into your personality?  Who is going to take the pictures and post them?  Who is going to curate content and manage the community?

New social media platforms can enhance your business’s visibility and provide your prospects and customers with great insights into who you are and how your business works.  But before you start, you will want to answer these questions and have a plan for both content creation and managing the ongoing posting process.

Article written by
Mark Goodman is the President & CEO of e-Conversation Solutions. He is also past workshop chair at SCORE Chicago. Prior to founding e-Conversation, Mark held numerous positions as a technology executive, including Director of Business Development at Motorola, where he was the first business manager in the cell phone group. In addition to Motorola, Mark was an executive for a Silicon Valley company and a film buyer for General Cinema Theatres. Mark holds an MBA from Boston University and an MA in radio/TV/film from Northwestern University.