“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…” Those immortal words were penned by the renowned Victorian poet, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, in the mid-19th century. Rest assured, love poems will no doubt continue to thrive and be scribed by lovebirds, but perhaps a more telling question for the 21st century business enterprise might be: On how many social media platforms shall I engage? Let’s see if I can even count that high!
To be sure, engagement in social media is an undeniably essential 21st century tool to reach, influence and retain customers and business partners. Digital social media is a terrific marketing technique that is less costly than its paper-based analog partner and expands the visibility of the products and services of businesses. Not to mention being a terrific community builder.
Who was the trailblazer for this ubiquitous publicizing tool? It depends on to whom you pose the question. Some might argue it dates back to an early postal system, the advent of the telegraph or even the telephone and radio. Each of these, according to Small Business Trends, would qualify since each method provides a means of quickly –well, relatively quickly when considering their respective eras- communicating news and information across long distances.
Alternatively, The History Cooperative begins its social networking saga in the 20th century declaring the website SixDegrees.com as the birth of social media. Six Degrees, now defunct, enabled users to create profiles and friend others users. Sound familiar?
For the more digitally curious that would like to know who created what when, the accompanying infographic, by Fandom Marketing, succinctly portrays the major players and the years in which they gained prominence.
But enough history, how about the present?
While I’ve outlined the benefits of developing an appropriate social presence, not maintaining sufficient presence surely smacks of technological illiteracy. Creating multiple accounts that gather dust due to inactivity sends a message: you are either no longer in business or you haven’t grasped the importance of creating good content regularly.
Judiciously choosing the right platform is where the magic begins. Rather than creating accounts on numerous platforms, choose the 2 or 3 that make sense for your business. For example, the local plumber might choose Facebook as his / her preferred platform. It is community oriented and networks locally. Conversely, a seller of enterprise software to the Fortune 500 might opt for LinkedIn over Instagram.
If you are looking for further guidance on the platform that best suits your needs, Forbes recently wrote a piece Which Social Media Platforms Are Right For Your Business while Huffington Post offers their own opinion on digital networking here.