How Many Social Media Channels Should Your Brand Be Using?

Facebook Cartoon 1I sent an invite to a past colleague of mine to be a friend on Facebook just recently and he sent me back an interesting email, which in essence said. ” I only have time for one social media channel (it happened to be LinkedIn), so don’t be offended if I politely refuse, but if you want to communicate through LinkedIn, I am more than happy to” This was both refreshingly honest and revealing about the social media “avalanche” that invites us to participate and sweeps past us every day.

So this begs the question, how many social media channels should you be using for your company?  There isn’t a simple answer to that question but it is more a matter of the resources that you have available, both in time and money to engage in Social Media effectively.

Some of the big brands engage in more than ten. See the Report on the Top 100 Brands Engagenment With Social Media and my insights from the report.

So how many “Social Media” Channels are some of the top brands using?

Company         Number of Channels      Resources

Starbucks                 11                                               6 Staff in The Social Media team

Toyota                        7                                                3 Staff

SAP                            10                                                35 Staff

Dell                             11                                                Not Available

“So these are  the big brands and they have the resources” I hear you say, well that is true, but that shouldn’t stop your company or organisation starting to use social media, because the benefits are significant,organic and viral

Note: See the exponential effects from my own experience, in my section later in this post on “Blogging”, of how another blog, or social media picking up your post and passing it on to other social media platforms can leverage your message and your sites traffic.

Before we look at what are some of the social media channels you should be starting with, I would like to outline 7 categories of Social Media.

1. Blogging: Your competition has a blog and so should you. Blogs can serve many purposes. A couple of key points are host your own blog and consistently add fresh content. Never let your blog go stale.

2. Social Networking: My Space and Facebook are 2 of the largest. Building relationships online are a big part of having a successful Internet business. Social networking allows you to hang out with people that have similar interests to you.

3. Micro Blogging: Twitter.com is a combination of social networking and blogging. Building a large list of followers is a great way to meet people and increase traffic to your blog and websites. Plus it is fun to Tweet!

4. Social Bookmarking: Directories such as Digg and Technorati serve as search engine bait for your blog posts and for new traffic from people who read your blog articles. Bookmarking a blog post is very easy to do and the rewards can pay off for years to come.

5. Discussion Forums: This really was one of the first forms of social media and still is a great way to learn about the niche of your business and to drive traffic to it. Hanging out in discussion forums can be addictive so be careful to use them the right way and not waste time. There is an art to forum marketing and you must learn to do it correctly, but the benefits are many.

6. Email Marketing: There has always been money in having a list. The trick is to build relationships with your list and then sell to it after you have done that. For that reason we include it in social media. Today you can add video, audio, graphics, and other things to make your email more interactive.

7. Video Marketing: When Google bought YouTube everyone was put on notice that video marketing was going to be important. Today internet marketers can drive traffic and build credibility by adding videos to their blog and website.

So How Many Channels for your Brand?  Well, there are a few Social Media Channels I would start on.

1. Blogging:  Putting up a blog and then posting articles is just the start of the process you then need to register your blog on technorati, then list/bookmark/ tweet each post on Stumbleupon, Reddit, Digg, Delicious and Twitter, this can leverage your presence and then can spread your content to your other channels, sometimes virally as other individuals take up posts  from your blog that they think is worthwhile and pass the link onto their friends and contacts.

Note: See below a screen shot of the effects of the leveraging effects of social media, showing the traffic increase to my blog site after a popular recent post from my blog was passed around the social media space.

Blog Post Showing Growth 29th July 2009

 

The interesting thing to note about this was that  this traffic remained high for more than a week after this as different referrers in Social Media took up the Post on the ” The 10 New Rules Of PR “

Referrers From Jeffbullas.com blog showing Referrers, LinkedIn, Facebook Twitter

Note: In the above image you will notice, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, as well as other Social Media sites 

2. Twitter: Follow the top people in your industry, have conversations, do searches in twitter on key words and phrases on your industry, search for interesting information about your marketplace and announce your new blog posts and other interesting news about your company on Twitter. A  note of caution Twitter and other Social Media has to be used appropriately and with balance and it is recommended that you start using each so that you understand each type of channels customs and etiquette. Check out Jason Falls Post about balancing “Promoting vs Sharing” with the use of Social Media

3. Facebook: This can be very powerful as Facebook has now over 250 Million Users and growing, and it can be used to:

  • Add your Facebok URL to your email signature and any marketing collateral (business cards, etc.) so prospects can learn more about you.
  • Post business updates on your wall. Focus on business activities, such as “Working with ABC Company on web site redesign.”
  • Share useful articles and links to presentation and valuable resources that interest customers and prospects on your wall, to establish credibility.
  • Combine Facebook with other social media tools like Twitter. For example, when someone asks question on Twitter, you can respond in detail in a blog post and link to it from Facebook.

For more in depth tips on using Facebook read Meryl Evans Post on How To Use Facebook For Business at Web Worker Daily

4. LinkedIn: This is the worlds largest professional networking site with over 15 million visits/month, the average user is 39 and makes $139K/year, over 500,000 C-level members.  Do you think being found here could be useful for your brand or organisation?  So what are some of the different ways of using Linkedin

  • Use widgets to integrate other tools, such as importing your blog entries or Twitter stream into your profile.
  • Do market research and gain knowledge with Polls.
  • Share survey and poll results with your contacts.
  • Answer questions in Questions and Answers: show expertise without a hint of self-promotion.
  • Ask questions in Questions and Answers to get a feel for what customers and prospects want or think.
  • Publish your LinkedIn URL on all your marketing collateral, including business cards, email signature, email newsletters, web sites and brochures, so prospects learn more about you.

To find out more go to Web Worker Daily’s Post on “33 Ways to Use LinkedIn for Business”

So these are the four I would start with and if  you only have the resources or the inclination for one for now, I would start with a blog.

Even though you may not fully understand the various ways you can utilize these many types of social media to brand yourself and expand your business, or you don’t want get started because it is new and a bit daunting (we all have been there). You need to be engaged with Social Media.

But if you are still asking why should I be engaging in Social Media?,  then for one, it will help you with your  “Organic SEO”? and getting found online (because your competitors are doing it, or about to), it will also achieve other benefits, such as establish you or your company as a thought leader and it will provide you with more feedback from your clients and prospects that will help you monitor and adjust your company’s strategy.

So what Social Media Channels are you using, and how effective are they for you ? Would like to hear your stories

Comments

  • http://www.successfulsolutionslifecoaching.com Karen Parsons

    Hello,

    I have just found your blog through a Twitter referral and will be bookmarking it. I am relatively new to Social Media Marketing but am very excited about it. I am launching a new Life Transformation Program in a couple of weeks and found this article very helpful to assist me in getting the word out!

    Thank you kindly.

    Karen Parsons
    Successful Solutions Life Coaching

  • Trey Pennington

    Good social media road map for companies, professional service firms, politicians, and *gasp* celebrities. Printing it out now to make sure I’ve followed the checklist.

    Thanks.
    Trey Pennington

  • http://stevemcauliffe.wordpress.com/ Steve McAuliffe

    Outstanding Post… Had to bookmark this one as not to lose sight of the importance if the interrelationships of the key social media channels… also a site that I will refer new “socialites” to as they venture out. Thank You!!

  • Nikhil Vaswani

    Great tips and very nicely written! Social networking will soon become the most effective way of building your professional career and creating a personal brand. However, one will have to invest time in learning the effectiveness of these sites and ways to use them properly.

    By the way, I am new to LinkedIn too and have found this resource quite useful. It is a new book called “How to REALLY use LinkedIn” by networking expert Jan Vermeiren. Check it out, you can find a free lite version at http://www.how-to-really-use-linkedin.com/

    • http://dpbloghost.com Dustin

      I am also new to LinkedIn and have been looking for some more detailed information on it. Thanks @Nikhil Vaswani for that extra link.

      @Jeff I also want to thank you for this perspective on Social Media. I’ve been trying to just get a following on one social media channel at a time while slowly building the others up. It may be a pretty good strategy to limit yourself so you can maximize the channels you are using.

  • http://byronnnewmedia.com Deano Power

    G’day Jeff, nice post, you make a great point. Concentrate on a few networks then expand your presence from there. I believe a good listening strategy is should also be on of the first cabs off the rank in a sound Social Media strategy. Look forward to reading more of your content. Deano

    P.S.

    Charlene Li has made a huge contribution to the space not least of which, the Top 100 brands paper.

  • http://excellenteditors.com Frank DiCostanzo

    This is fantastic advice, Jeff. We must remember, too, that building a business is not a sprint. We must be patient, and we must be open to learning how to navigate through networks we’ve yet to understand. Again, some great pointers. Thanks for this valuable post.

  • http://www.amnigos.com Vijay Rayapati

    Good points Jeff. The number of channels you or your company needs to be active is specific to the use case and goals one have from using that particular social web channel.

    What is really important for companies to understand is that social media isn’t for just big or small firms but for all who care about listing & engaging in conversations with their target group of users/customers/followers.

    The biggest challenge for brands using multiple social channels are resources like time, human effort, continuously refined engagement strategy & better technology adoption to minimize the cost required for social engagement from brands side.

    Finally as someone said, “In Social Media, Getting there is easy but doing it better is difficult”so Individuals and Brands need to realize that social media isn’t an instant fix to all problems & it takes lot of effort to see results.

  • http://www.cmcexecutivecoach.com Carol Aloisi

    As an executive coach I appreciate such solid, implementable advice re: social media–Now off to tweet. Thanks!

  • http://www.saracanaday.com Sara Canaday

    The post couldn’t be more timely. I will giving a “talk” in the morning for small business owners, who have not taken advantage of social media to convey their brand. I have culled through the current data, opinions, and best practices for those BEST SUITED TO SMALL BUSINESSES and appreciate your like-minded approach.

  • http://www.twitter.com/thejordanrules Jordan Julien

    Great post, really appreciate the thought that went into it.

    I think the number of social media channels a brand should be using is dependent on the brands goals and audience. I wouldn’t necessarily suggest that a CPG brand put Linked-in in their top 4 SM channels.

  • Subbu Jois

    Thanks for the note, Jeff! And a Brilliant one at that!
    Another point to add – today the media is diverse and cannot be controlled – a user may use texts, images or videos to communicate. Hence, restricting oneself to a single channel/medium may be limiting. In the days to come, we are bound to see much more multi-media content !
    Cheers!
    Subbu Jois
    @subbujois

  • http://www.twitter.com/recruiterdude Michael Black

    This is an outstanding posting. So many people are overwhelmed by the Social Media world and get turned off when it does not go the way they expect. I believe that it is just another channel to communicate your brand message.

  • http://www.acevirtualassistance.com.au Jodi Gibson

    Great post. You are addressing an issue that is so relevant in today’s world. If you are not involved in social media for your business – you are missing out on such a powerful and relevant tool. I always suggest find where your target market is and start from there. At the moment I am concentrating on my blog, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn which is working really well. Thanks for the extra tips and links – some extra homework for me this week!

  • http://www.smoothe.com Smoothe_Agency

    Thank you for such an insiteful read. I found your link on Twitter and will be bookmarking your page also. We are new to online marketing and just building our first blog now so your tips and ideas will help me no end. Thank you!

  • http://onlinemediaanalyst.com Eric Melchor

    Excellent post. Love the cartoon!

    Eric Melchor

  • http://TwitterProfessionals.com Alex Goodall

    Excellent post, as usual. Thanks, Jeff.

    My list of “Why Twitter?” – which is much the same as “Why Social Media?” is:

    get closer to customers; find new customers; improve brand and product awareness; increase website traffic; provide an additional communications channel; find partners; find employees; educate the market; inform the public; influence opinions; enhance special promotions; support customers ….

    Alex Goodall

  • http://www.corisleachman.com Coris Leachman

    Hi Jeff,

    Just thought I’d say that I appreciated reading this article and agree with a lot of what you have written, apart from this bit:
    “So these are the four I would start with and if you only have the resources or the inclination for one for now, I would start with a blog. ”

    I personally would advise people that if they are new to social media to start with twitter, and not a blog. It’s much easier and quicker to get into. Blogging well can take time and for many businesses out there can be difficult to a. come up with relevant blog articles, and b. put aside the time to frequently write well written articles.
    Maintaining a content rich blog takes time and perseverance and if this time is not set aside regularly, the likelihood is that the blog will be forgotten about and fall by the waste-side or just seem quite bare, which will detract from the company’s image / brand value.
    I prefer to tweet myself as is quick and easy to maintain – not to mention addictive!

    All the best ,

    Coris
    http://twitter.com/coris_leachman

  • http://TwitterProfessionals.com Alex Goodall

    Coris

    I agree exactly with what you say. That’s the approach I take with http://TwitterProfessionals.com

    Regards

    Alex

  • http://www.rayapatitech.com Rayapati Venkata Krishna sekhar

    Its very good social media concept

  • http://www.positiveinternetmarketing.co.uk Internet Marketing Perth

    Excellent post Jeff. I recently gave a presentation to local small business owners and your article covers many of their concerns over what to concentrate on and what to spend time on.

    Nick

  • http://www.landaudesign.com Bonnie the Joomla Trainer

    Great post! I always tell our clients to really look at what they’re after with social media, and choose the outlets that will bring the greatest gain with least effort. And then I say… choose ONE to focus on for 2-3 months. Our clients are sole proprietorships or small businesses with few resources, and many delve in and try to take it all on, then give up from overwhelm. I’m also going to bookmark this and let our clients read it when they ask “should I do social media?” Thanks!

  • http://ewingsir.com/ Ewing Sothebys

    This is very helpful. We are a small business that has one person doing our social media and we are doing 3 social media types very well: blogging, facebook and twitter. We do some digg and stumble and we are beginning to dive into linkedin but it’s a big job for one person. This is a helpful article, thank you.

  • http://www.anremmash.ru sheecekep

    Хорошо написал. Так держать!!! :)

  • http://iliaso.livejournal.com/ Ilia Sotonin

    Nice post. Have already used some advices
    We`ll see the result

  • http://lesliekohler.com Leslie Kohler

    Good, concise post packed with lots of useful information. I tend to get so immersed in FB and Twitter I tend to forget about the other useful channels.

    Leslie Kohler
    Author, Sins of the Border
    Radio Host and Contributor to http://divatoolbox.com

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/drunichols Dru Nichols

    I think that it only makes sense that brands, large or small should make their information and advertising available in as many ways possible. It used to be conventional marketing wisdom that if you didn’t spent 6% of your earnings on advertising (back in print days) you WOULD, without fail, go out of business. I imagine that percentage has dropped considerably with the many methods of free or inexpensive SMM. The big boys pay a lot more, of course, but they need a lot more revenue.

    I also think that it makes perfect sense for us, as individuals, as we are totally overwhelmed by this massive amount of marketing that now comes at us from all sides, to choose to limit what we read and watch, otherwise we wouldn’t have time to do anything else.

  • Kathryn

    Very useful post – thanks

  • Anonymous

    Once again, Jeff, another excellent post.

    It all comes down to available time, staffing, target audience and the greatest opportunities for attaining set goals, especially ROI. For example, MySpace has significantly changed and may no longer be a viable tool for many to use. In its heyday, it was especially strong with/for the musical demographic. For older IT professionals and such, maybe not so much.

    Another area that I find worthwhile engaging in is what I and others are doing right here – commenting under the Blogs of other people. This is a very good way of getting to know others and for them to get to know us better, too. There is also absolutely no reason not to include a signature under your comments. After all, they serve to qualify us and our comments; and they make it tad easier for others to immediately connect with us from below.

    Thank you.

    Marc LeVine
    President
    ICA Social Media
    http://www.icanewfriend.com
    LinkedIn Bio: http://www.linkedin.com/in/marclevineica
    Follow me on Twitter at @icanewfriend

    • Hassan

      Thanks for the post. Very much astonished to see the numbers of people hired for social marketing by such a big companies. Why is that do they have less work or companies don’t want to spend I. This field.

  • http://twitter.com/ClickWhisperer Click Whisperer

    @SFNGroup we have 350+ individual social presences spread across half a dozen brands. I had to write my own software to keep track of all the presences and metrics. 

    • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

      Wow!!…350+ social assets! What I would be interested to know is which ones are the most effective and for which brands?

  • http://twitter.com/workboxsf Eric Weidner

    Businesses should look at social media like the telephone. It’s simply here and people use it. Then, spend time where your customers spend time online.

  • Andrew Healey

    Great post, Jeff. I mainly use Linkedin and Twitter. I’ve found them both to be great ways to keep in touch with my industry.

  • Beth M. Wood

    Great post, Jeff. We are currently active with a blog, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest. Just starting to put together a Facebook page. I would say that it’s more about quality than quantity. Obviously the more platforms in which you’re active, the greater reach you will enjoy. But, you also don’t want to be active in a platform just for the sake of saying you’re active in more platforms. Does that make sense? Be where your clients/fans/customers/users are!

  • Freddy

    Hi and as always a good post. This is my first response to one of your post Jeff, because usually I find them to be accurate and interesting. But something caught my eye in this post that didn’t sit well…

    “…
    Your competition has a blog and so should you…”
    This is difficult for me to accept. The only reason for any company to write a blog, or enter into any social Media channel, is because it brings value, has a purpose and ties in with the long term strategy of the company.

    “…My Space and Facebook are 2 of the largest…”
    Size does matter, but again, why should one be there if customers are not? Why should one be there if it doesn’t add any value or serves a purpose? We both know that “everyone” is online these days, and since Facebook is the largest, being there is a safe bet. But why spend resources on something if the target group isn’t there?

    You are actually recommending that companies should venture into four channels, given that they have the resources… Not based on knowledge about the target group, where they are, what they do and how they interact.

    Entering in to any social media channel must bring value, have a purpose and tie in with the long term strategy of the company. It’s that plain and simple, in my humble opinion.

  • http://twitter.com/m_raoul raoul mangoensentono

    Great post Jeff. I am currently on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and I write blogs for myself and for the companyblog. I don’t have a company, but I try to use the social media channels to get my profile out there. Any advise on doing that?

    • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

      If you keep reading my blog and also read my ebook http://ow.ly/dDts6 then that would help you a lot.

  • http://twitter.com/TheSatEvePot TheChef/TheLuckyWife

    Great info. One that was not mentioned that I have found really helpful and specifically in gauging where I am most effective through social media networks is Klout! Recent updates include an overview of social media interactions and how many people were engaged within a particular interaction. IMO, this type of feature provides an analysis benefit that no other social media platform offers.

  • http://www.jdamico.net JDamico

    Good post, Jeff. When I look at the amount of resources many of the larger companies you mention are assigning to social media, I can’t help but think that my clients in the mid-size B2B tech and industrial sector just don’t have that level of support. I think 2013 may just be the year marketers focus on shaving the list of social media channels down to a manageable number to which they can adequately support. In some cases that may simply be a blog alone and perhaps even a LinkedIn company page or group. As with any marcom channel, pick a few that work, do them well and then re-evaluate.