By the time you finish reading this sentence, there will be 700 new posts on Facebook. By the time you finish reading this entire blog post, there will be more than 1 million new tweets. With more than a billion Internet users world wide, watching millions of videos, creating millions of blogs and updating posts, status updates, and comments on a daily basis, finding your target audience in the sea of social media can feel overwhelming.

Stop. Take a deep breath. Realize that in order to be successful on the social web, you do not have to be everything to everyone–or everywhere for that matter.  In fact, no one can conquer every online social network. There is simply too much information flowing every second. Therefore rather than trying to tackle every social network at once, focus on the handful of social spaces where your target audience is most active.

As you start using social media to find and communicate with different audiences, you will quickly discover that some social networks provide more immediate benefits to your overall business goals than others do. Because online communications are more measurable and trackable than traditional forms of communication, the more you listen and engage on different social networks, the more you will be able to refine your efforts to maximize efficiency and attain your desired goals.

Many businesses discover that it takes a combination of social tools and messaging to reach their audiences and goals.  And what works for one industry or business, may not necessarily work for yours.

As a result, it’s a good idea to implement different marketing and communication strategies for each network. After all, each social networking channel can offer a slightly different purpose in helping a company reach its goals. For example, YouTube can provide an excellent place to house company videos, while Facebook can serve as an ideal place to generate honest customer feedback and testimonials. Twitter can be quite effective for tracking customer’s interest and monitoring what the competition is doing, while posting your latest blog entry to Google+ can be an important tactic for search engine optimization. Blogging can be an excellent way to showcase your expertise on a particular topic, while Linkedin can help you find the right employees and vendors. And Pinterest? Maybe that’s not right for your business goals at all.

Think of joining a new social networking group as stepping into a cocktail party where you don’t know anyone. You wouldn’t start loudly announcing your business and latest offerings the second you stepped foot in the door.  Not only would this be rude, but it would be a complete turn off to all the other guests. Instead, take smaller steps. Listen. Ask questions. Find out who the key influencers are in that group and get in their good graces. Also, pay attention to how the group talks, the lingo they use and how they interact with each other. See if there is a fit.

Once you’ve found your “fit”, contribute meaningful information that your target audience is seeking. Test out new approaches and dialogues. Have fun with it. After all, social networking is still in its infancy as a field of interest and study.  Best practices and tactics in the field are continuing to evolve.

Have you found a social media strategy that has worked exceptionally well for your business? We’d like to hear it. Share it on this blog.

 

By Holly Berkley, Author of “The Social Media Advantage

Holly Berkley is a San Diego-based Internet Marketing consultant and the author of several popular marketing and business books. Her newest book “The Social Media Advantage – The Essential Handbook for Small Business” will be available November 2012. Connect and learn more about Holly Berkley and her books at http://www.berkweb.com/