Social Media Marketing Basics: How many social profiles do I need?

By Oct.27, 2011

The Socialnomics video by @equalman is probably the most shared video on the economics of social media on YouTube.  This is the long version (4 minutes 19 seconds) of the 2011 edition set to music by Fat Boy Slim.

Social Context and Network Presence

Some social media and marketing experts believe that you should be everywhere.  However, it is far more important to be in the right place at the right time. Context is everything when it comes to deciding which social networks are relevant for you and your business.  Take the example of a downtown restaurant, where daily specials can be posted on Twitter and loyalty discounts can be offered to regular customers who check-in on Foursquare.  Different networks will have different advantages depending on the type of business and amount of resources available.  The trick is to weigh up all the pros and cons of each opportunity so as to not risk being overwhelmed by taking on too much too soon.

Earlier this month, the Oxford Internet Institute released the latest report on the State of the Internet in Britain, containing information on the emergence of next generation users in terms of adoption, characteristics and attitudes, use, government and politics, social networks and friendships, impact of internet use, regulation and control and digital divides. This valuable demographics and trend data feeds into the World Internet Project, which “is a major, international, collaborative project looking at the social, political and economic impact of the Internet and other new technologies”.

Most users will only actively participate on one or two networks on a daily basis, so it is important to focus on relevance and providing valuable engaging content. Unfortunately there are a myriad of networks to choose from and the top choices will vary depending on industry, geographic region and active user base.

Choosing a Social Network

If you are based in the English speaking world, the main social networks that have established social media marketing frameworks, applications, metrics and guidance on usability are a good place to start: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Foursquare, and YouTube.  It is not critical to establish a presence on all of these networks and there are plenty of review sites and social media comparison charts that can help with the targeting process, such as those provided by the Social Media Guide.

The Social Media ROI video is part of the Socialnomics series by @equalman; can you tell that I am a fan?  The data is from 2009 and the music is Bob Sinclair, 4 minutes 15 seconds worth of real world examples of social media strategies that have had a clear business impact.

The key questions to ask when deciding to participate in a social media network are:

  • Why should I be on this network?
  • Are my customers there?
  • Do my customers want me there?
  • How will I engage my customers?
  • How much time and effort will it cost?
  • Will there be a worthwhile return on my investment?

By considering each of these questions in the context of the individual social networks that you might join, you will be able to decide which networks will be the best ones for you to start with.

A comprehensive UK Search Engine Marketing Benchmark Report is compiled annually by Econsultancy, and although the full report currently costs £250, there are some useful metrics in the free sample download.

Company Names, Brands and Trademarks as Social Identities

This video is a great visual interpretation of the journey of branding from its use as property demarcation to social identification and what it means in today’s economy.  It was produced in 2011 by the MSc Brand Leadership team at Norwich Business School at the University of East Anglia.

The question of whether you need to register your profile on all of the social networks that you are likely to want to use is a good one. It is important to consider whether your company name, brand name or trademark is worth protecting from being registered by someone else, who might use the account for their own purposes.  Even if you do not wish to actively participate in a particular social network, it may be worth registering your username to act as a placeholder or a redirect to the websites and networks where you are actively participating.

A useful service to check is KnowEm, which allows you to do a quick username search on more than 550 social networks.  In my personal experience, the results are not always 100% accurate; but it is a great place to start researching for safeguarding a specific company name, brand name or a trademark.

Finding More Help with Social Media Marketing Basics

Well, a great place to learn more about Search & Social Media Marketing is the SEO Training provided by Salford University…but that might be stating the obvious!

Whichever profiles you choose to establish on social media networks, it is really important to remember which social networks you have joined and use a bookmarking service.  My personal favourite is XeeMe, which is based in the US but currently on target to set up a physical presence in Europe in the coming months.

I’d love to hear from you, if you would like to:

  • Leave a comment on this post
  • Find me through my social bookmarks on XeeMe
  • Follow the #ssmm tag or my #ssmm list on Twitter for useful tips and connections

7 thoughts on “Social Media Marketing Basics: How many social profiles do I need?

  1. Angela says:

    Really interesting subject, as different social media platforms work differently for different markets, it’s not always LinkedIn for B2B as I have found in the past and people think that because everyone’s on certain platforms they will also be right for them, not always the case and this blog gives some really good points around that!

  2. Great advice here. It’s massively important for businesses to realise that, like everything, quality is better than quality. It’s far better to have a valuable presence on only one or two networks than a half-hearted presence on five or six. My advice is to be realistic about how much time you have to invest in social media and use the advice above to choose the most useful networks for you to be on. Start small, you can always build in more profiles as you need them.

  3. admin says:

    Some really good points Anjlee, one aspect which I feel might not be clear in this post is the compulsory need for a “minimal level of engagement”. This is equivalent to the need to listen to the customers and their feedback and social media provides a number of opportunities for this. Can any organisation afford not to at least monitor their brand mentions for example using simple tools such as Google Alerts?

  4. Anjlee says:

    Thanks Angela, I spend a lot of time on various social platforms and I would have to say that although Twitter and LinkedIn are still top of my list for connecting with business contacts, learning, insights and inspiration can come from anywhere.
    ~ ~ ~
    Thanks Katie, I display my activity levels across various social networks and groups on XeeMe to differentiate between placeholder profiles and active social presences. I’m hoping this will help people connect with me on the most appropriate network(s) for our shared interests and activity levels. So far, it seems to be working…
    ~ ~ ~
    A ‘minimum level of engagement’ is a very difficult concept to define and I would say that it is still more art than science. In general, brands are still doing a poor job of responding to mentions, questions and complaints, although there are some really good case examples for successful responses:

    It all depends on the network, the customer expectations, and a myriad of other criteria. You are absolutely right in that social media can no longer be ignored and companies have to start monitoring their brands. Thankfully, there are a number of useful free tools including Google Alerts, Social Mention, HootSuite, Tweetstats, Boardtracker, CoTweet as well as the more robust options like the Radian6 professional product suite.

    I think, particularly for small business, social media should be considered in context, as a single component of a whole business strategy, and any advice should be given on a case by case basis.

  5. @fondalo says:

    Great points here. Although I have to say that step one is knowing exactly who your target audience is. Your prospect. Where are they and how are they using which platforms. Understanding this extremely well and first are the keys to an effective social media strategy. Then and only then can you move forward toward the other components to build your program.

    Free advice and worth every penny! 🙂


  6. I agree with your premise, although I will stretch it out to say that some companies, like Coke for instance, really do benefit more from being almost everywhere than the majority of us would. They can afford to have multiple people checking all these things out, whereas small businesses like mine need to concentrate on what we can keep up with.

  7. Anjlee says:

    Thanks Robert, have you written a post on defining your ideal customer? I’d love to know how you personally figure out who that is and see how this could be applied to some of the small businesses that are involved with the #SSMM course.

    ~ ~ ~

    Hi Mitch, thanks for pointing that out. It’s easy to miss defining the scope when you are trying to write a [relatively] short post. It’s also important to note that although social media users have higher expectations of presence from big business, it’s small and medium-sized businesses that need the interaction and support to help them drive economic growth through innovation and employment.

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