Too many platforms, too little time
Long ago I lost count of all the possible social media platforms and tools a business might reasonably use. And in my email and on various newsfeeds I see more new ones being announced or talked about every day.
That proliferation of possibilities probably helps explain why for many professionals the topic of social media brings on an immediate sense of overwhelm. There’s just too much going on, with too many different social platforms.
The temptation is to just put off or ignore the whole topic and maybe hope things will settle down enough one day to a point where some sense can be made of it all.
Let’s face it: that day is not going to come, not in the foreseeable future anyway. We have to make the best decisions we can in a sea of activity and uncertainty.
Or miss out on how business is increasingly being done.
I understand the sense of overwhelm and I experience it too in my own attempts to keep track of new developments so that I can better advise my clients.
Cutting through the sense of overwhelm
In this post I’m providing an overview of what I see as a basic suite of platforms for just about any business to consider, especially in the broad field of professional services.
Each of us needs to make sense of both the big picture of social media and the details of what technologies are right for us to employ in our business or professional practice.
Which is why, for a while now, I’ve been including in my presentations on the topic some discussion about basic platforms.
By the way, I’ve noticed each time that, even with a variety of audiences, this part of the presentation seems to get extra engagement from most or all present. That tells me it strikes a chord of interest.
A basic suite of social platforms
I’ve also noticed lately that even when I have reduced the list of basic platforms to six it’s still overwhelming for some. So I have been emphasizing that I don’t recommend trying to operate them all at once. That way would lie untold frustration and probably disillusion with the whole process. In fact, I’ve been saying that it makes better sense to develop understanding and skill with one platform at a time.
The six platforms I recommend are, not in any intrinsic order of priority:
LinkedIn is indisputably the first platform of choice for professionals, whatever the industry. It’s more fundamentally a professional networking site than a “social” networking one, has over 150 million users and is still growing.
Twitter, the instant messaging and social networking site where your message can’t be more than 140 characters in length, is seriously underestimated by many, maybe most of the professionals I meet. Others make very effective use of it, as part of their social media strategy.
Facebook, the social networking phenomenon with somewhere over 850 million users, can’t be ignored by anyone in business – or should I say simply “by anyone”. Just how effective it will be for specific businesses is a subject that needs attention when developing a company-specific social strategy.
Google+ (or Google Plus) is a newer social networking platform but growing: launched in June 2011, by the end of the year it had 90 million users. There has been vigorous debate, via blogs and various online forums, about whether Google+ will be a success or whether, as one seminar participant asked me the other day, it is or is becoming a “deserted village”. I’m bullish about Google+, especially because of the launch in January this year of Google plus your world.
A Blog is often the missing element in a business’s social media setup, which in my view is a big mistake, especially for a solo professional wanting to be noticed above th din and wanting to do that economically in dollar terms.
YouTube, the video sharing site with some 60 hours of video being uploaded every minute, provides a very accessible way for any of us to get our message out and is a seriously underutilized resource for many businesses.
Thinking strategically, it’s not enough to just build our presence on each of the basic platforms. We need to work out which ones we will put more or less emphasis on, depending on our initial and ongoing strategic assessment.
We also need to take care of social integration, the business of linking our various social presences to get a greater effect for our efforts. It’s something that is often overlooked by professionals who may have quite a good presence across specific platforms.
One clarification is needed on the topic of getting used to one platform at a time, then moving on to the next, and that is the necessity to take care early on of some “username parking”. It’s a process similar to that of “domain parking”, in which you register domains (web addresses) for your business or specific brands so as to ensure someone else doesn’t have them, even if you don’t have any immediate plan to use them for a specific site. Basically you are establishing or refreshing an account on a specific platform so as to reserve your ideal username (provided someone else hasn’t got there first).
As we used to say in forums, your mileage may vary. If you have a different list of basic platforms, I’d be interested to hear about that, including if you wish the reasons for your choice.