social mediaGuest Post by Jessica Davis

According to a non-exhaustive list on Wikipedia, there are more than 200 social media sites across the globe. Although you may have thought otherwise, social media is not limited to Facebook or Twitter. But with 1.44 billion monthly active users on Facebook, and 302 million active monthly users on Twitter, why would you want to be anywhere else?

Mainstream social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter undoubtedly let you reach a much wider audience, than niche networks like Care2 or Untappd. However, the latter allow for more accurate targeting, which automatically makes you more relevant to your audience. Also, considering the fact that Facebook has 40 million active small business pages, building your presence on niche sites will help you stand out from the crowd.

How can you diversify your social media channels?

If you’re just starting out on social media (specifically in terms of leveraging it for your business), it’s important that you identify your goals before you do anything else. Are you looking to simply build brand awareness, or are your goals more specific, like driving traffic to your website?

It’s always a good idea to revisit your goals every once in a while, even if you’re not so new to the world of social media marketing.

Next, build your campaign around your goals and then identify the most suitable social media platform(s) for it.

While deciding on your chosen platforms, take note of any niche networks that are relevant to your industry. For instance, if mothers and mothers-to-be are part of your target audience, Cafemom would be an ideal platform to market your business. However, you shouldn’t be ignoring major platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. The trick is to strengthen your presence across multiple platforms, simultaneously.

Apart from identifying the right platforms for your campaign, you’ll also have to make sure you’re sharing the right kind of content with your audience.

Content creation and content curation are both extremely challenging, particularly for small businesses that are generally strapped for time and money. To make content curation simpler, and ensure that you’re sharing fresh, relevant content, use tools like DrumUp and Feedly. The former even lets you schedule and post content to social media, helping you save time on social media management.

A good content sharing rule to go by is TA McCann’s 5-3-2 rule. For every 10 posts you share, make sure five of them are from others in your field of work, three of them should be original and two should be non-work related to help humanize your brand. Additionally, also ensure that you participate in conversations and respond to comments.

Creating brand awareness is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to social media marketing. Here are a few other things you can do:

1. Generate leads

Diversifying your social media channels will not only let you cast a wider net, but will also help create multiple touch points to engage with your audience. This essentially means that you’re reaching out to a larger number of people, while also reaching out to the same people across multiple platforms. In fact, a survey conducted by Pew Research Center indicates that a growing number of Internet users are adopting multiple social platforms. It also revealed that the number of people using a single platform dropped from 36 percent to 28 percent.

2. Improve customer relation/retention

Social media has the power to make or break your brand, really. According to research conducted by NewVoiceMedia, 59 percent of 25 – 34 year old Americans would turn to social media to share bad customer service experiences. On a more encouraging note though, 69 percent of them said they would recommend a business following a good experience, and 50 percent of them said they would also use the product/service more frequently.

3. Track competition

If you’re looking to optimize your social media presence, one smart thing to do is track competition. Follow your competitors on their social channels to understand their strategy and see how well it’s working for them. Although it may not be a good idea to mimic competition, you could surely take some cues.

Diversity has come to be an important element of social media strategy since it can help improve both visibility and engagement. To boost the impact of your social marketing efforts, it’s now imperative that you think beyond mainstream social channels.

Image: Jason Howie via Flickr, CC 2.0

Jessica DavisJessica Davis has a keen interest in social media and content marketing, and writes extensively about it. She represents Godot Media, a leading content marketing firm that also offers blog writing services.