In the first installment of this series, I went over why your MSP business should be on social media. The channels, voice, content, and strategy you use are up for debate—the fact that you need to be on social media is not.
Today, we’ll cover the first part of that magic social equation—the channels.
It’s a common misconception that, for your business to be effective on social media, it must be on every single network available. This is simply not true—in fact, being on all (or many) social networking sites can be detrimental to your business. Why? Because it is likely you will simply lack the time or resources to devote to creating a strong social media presence while providing worthwhile content to your audience.
The answer to the question, “Which social networks are right for my MSP business?” is simple. Utilize the most relevant platforms according to your audience.
For starters, you need to determine where your audience is. You know they’re on social—but you need to know where they are. They are most likely on one or more of the following: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn. This means that’s where you should be, too.
But should you participate on all these networks? No.
You must decide where you fit best, based on:
Let’s go through what each of these networks is known and useful for—although I can’t diagnose where your specific MSP business should be, breaking each network down by usefulness and purpose should help you determine if that’s the best network for your business.
Ah, Facebook. The original social network. Everyone is on there, even if they’re not willing to admit it. Here’s the kicker, though: Rarely is anyone on there for business. Facebook’s primary purpose is personal sharing and communication.
Posting on Facebook needs to be extremely relevant and engaging to a user’s personal life in order to be effective. And, often, even if it is extremely relevant and engaging to your audience, you may not get the kind of response you’re looking for—and that’s because it is very difficult for Facebook pages to reach their audiences without using Facebook’s paid promotion options.
So, should you get on Facebook? There’s nothing keeping you from it. But be aware, posting on Facebook without a budget behind you can feel a lot like shouting into a vacuum—lots of noise and little response. Facebook, however, is a great place for retargeting advertising, something we will cover in a future post in this series.
The crown jewel of the Facebook universe (yes, Instagram is owned by Facebook), it is the premier social network for visual storytelling. It has a singular focus on images—the captions that go along with them are almost secondary (although essential for discoverability via the use of hashtags—which is something that also applies to Twitter).
Is Instagram a good place for your MSP? Only if you plan on having a lot of visual content—without pictures or graphics, you’ll find it difficult to make Instagram your home. At SolarWinds, we use Instagram as a place to showcase life inside the company—this lends itself to images and pictures in a way our more transactional business side does not.
Twitter is the great conversational forum of the original social networks, the place where news breaks and movements begin. Twitter’s primary purpose is no secret—it’s the dissemination and discussion of information.
It is also very difficult to keep an audience’s attention on Twitter. The average lifespan of a Tweet, according to an (informal) 2016 study by SEO powerhouse, Moz is 18 minutes. That means you have less than a third of an hour before your tweet disappears into the ether, never to be seen or heard from again unless someone RTs (retweets) it—and even then, you need a solid amount of retweets to expand that lifespan. Ergo, your Twitter posts need to be—much like on Facebook—engaging, relevant, and interesting.
Another aspect to note is it’s often the first stop for customer complaints. When it comes to Twitter, you need to be prepared to be responsive, available, and ready to address concerns. Users expect and want responsiveness on Twitter, in both the good and the bad. You need to be ready to provide that for them.
LinkedIn is probably the most logical place for your MSP business—both for you as the business owner and for the business itself—because the purpose of LinkedIn is professional connection.
LinkedIn users expect to see business messaging, and they react positively to it. As such, it is the natural repository for nearly everything you may need or want to say about your business—press releases, new products, new hires, educational blog posts, etc.
Engagement on LinkedIn is also often higher than on other networks—again, likely because the purpose of the network is clearly defined, and if you fall into the type of content users expect to see, it’s likely you will get a good number of likes, shares, and comments.
So which networks should you be active on?
I said at the start of this piece I couldn’t diagnose which networks your specific MSP business should be on—and that holds true. But what I can say is this—take a look at where your customers are. Consider where they expect you to be. Then determine where you are most comfortable sharing content and being available—and that’s where you should set up social shop. Don’t be afraid to turn down one or more networks; many businesses, particularly small- or medium-sized ones, are only on a single network or two.
Your focus should be on how you can best serve your audience. Find the network that allows you to do that, and call it home.
In the next instalment of the series, we’ll cover how to establish your social voice—which is a fancy way of saying, “How you should say the things you want to say.”
Anne Chaconas is marketing manager, Social and Content at SolarWinds MSP
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