Making Sense of Social Media Platform Choices

For those new to social media, the choices can be daunting. How do you choose among so many alternatives? This article summarizes my answer to that question.

First the bottom line, then some explanation.

  • Top priorities:
    • Facebook, blog/website, email, Twitter, Amazon
  • Secondary:
    • YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, podcasts, Goodreads, Google+

Please keep in mind that these are generic recommendations – your priorities may differ.

So let’s sort through some of the rationale behind these recommendations.

First, as Mark Schaefer points out, you need a stream of strong rich content that can come from your blog, podcasts, or video. Unless you are particularly photogenic and charismatic (video), or have an excellent speaking voice and a bent for talking for long periods of time without making mistakes (podcast), my recommendation is a blog on your own website.

Once you have a platform for your rich content, you need to get it broadly distributed (“ignition” as Mark would say). If you already have a strong email list, that is the most effective means, because people who agree to allow you to send them emails are more likely to have a stronger connection to you than Facebook fans or Twitter followers.

But how do you get those email addresses in the first place? That’s where Facebook and Twitter come in. Specific exceptions may be if you have particularly visual content (Pinterest) or are targeting business customers (LinkedIn) or a young audience (Instagram). Otherwise I think Facebook and Twitter are top, with Facebook the more important of the two.

Twitter tends to get bashed, but there are many people there who you want to connect with. As a company they’ve struggled, but a large part of that is because for a long time their company valuation was over-inflated and their expense stream could not be supported by the modest revenue model that is more realistic.

Amazon is there because they are the largest distribution channel for books, and because it doesn’t take much for you to establish your author page there. Low maintenance after that.

Goodreads is included because of the serious readers there. Google+ because the posts you make there are more likely to show highly in Google search results.

Again, your results may vary; however the above recommendations are based on my work with a series of different authors and businesses.