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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.

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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

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