We all expect social media to be “easy” to use. For many sites, the number of more “mature” users is rapidly growing and teenagers – and younger – thrive there.

So, for a smart and savvy business owner, it should be easy. Right?

Wrong!

Incorporating social media into your marketing plan takes thought and planning.

First and foremost, whoever is managing your social media presence – whether it’s you or  someone else – really needs to know the intricacies of how each site works. Posting on Twitter is very different than posting on Facebook, which is very different from posting on LinkedIn. Toss in Pinterest and Google+ and it gets confusing very quickly.

The users of those sites are on them for very different reasons. If you just cut and paste the same post everywhere, it’s likely you’re alienating some (many?) of your followers…and they’ll just ignore you or worse, unfollow you.

People are on Twitter for quick burst of information. It’s very “conversational” and posts should reflect this. On Facebook, we’re there to be entertained. Pinterest is very visual and great images rule. For LinkedIn, professional posts are optimal, ones that don’t talk about your favorite TV show, recipe or family vacation. For me, Google+ is kind of a mash-up of all of these!

So, how do you go about using these sites to promote yourself or your business?

Before you ever post anything, you need to have a strategy for using the sites. Your messages on social media need to be consistent with your other marketing messages. As one of the primary goals should be to drive people to your website, don’t confuse them by seemingly having a split personality!

You also need to think about when and how often you post. Studies have determined the best possible times to post, based on when most people are online. However, consider this: while it’s true that there are times when most of your followers may be online, do you want to just be one of MANY messages they are seeing? Or, do you want to post at a different time when there’s less clutter?

It’s critical that you post often enough that people don’t forget that you exist. There’s a great deal of “clutter” – on all of the sites – and using them infrequently virtually guarantees that you will be lost in that clutter. Just experiment and find the best mix for yourself.

You can post about the same subject on all of the sites. The trick is not to cut and paste the information but to tailor it to “how” and “what” your followers are expecting to see, depending on the site. It takes just a couple of minutes to “personalize” what you’re posting for each site.

Most importantly, you need to continually review what works…and what doesn’t. And, just because something works this week, it doesn’t mean the same strategy will be effective next month.

See, I told you it wasn’t going to be easy! But, I think that it’s worth it. It may initially take more time than you’d like, but as you get the hang of it, it will go more quickly.

Share your tips with us! Post them below!

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