Why You're Wasting Your Time On Social

By Alexandra Ostrow There are now a multitude of different social networking platforms on which one can choose to market themselves. For many, this translates to: "There are now a multitude of different social networking platforms on which I should be marketing myself."

Not so.

In fact, should you choose to establish a presence on all of those platforms, you will likely be wasting your efforts. Why?

1) You don't have the time required to effectively build out a voice, response strategy, and calendar of quality content for each of those networks.

2) Your audience isn't necessarily on all those platforms often enough to warrant that amount of attention.

3) You haven't thought through the strategy for each platform, nor have you assigned goals by which to measure the success of your efforts.

So what do you do? A great starting point for any marketer, whether acting on behalf of a small business or Fortune 500 company, is to ask and answer the following questions:

1) What are you aiming to accomplish on social media? Are you trying to get your brand name out there? Boost loyalty of existing customers? Resonate with a particular target audience? Yes, I'm sure you're trying to do all of those things, but you must prioritize. What's most important to your business today; and then, what is your secondary goal?

2) Who is your target audience and where are they spending their time? If you want to reach men, Pinterest might not be the best platform for you, regardless of the referral traffic it generates. If you want to reach business professionals, perhaps LinkedIn should take priority over Facebook. Do some research, but before you do anything, ask yourself...

3) How much time do you have to devote to your social marketing efforts? Don't start what you can't finish. Determine the amount of time you can realistically dedicate to social media and then commit to it. If you only have a half hour each day, focus on 1-2 platforms and set up real-time alerts to make sure you're made aware of any activity that may be cause for concern. If you have a team whose sole focus is social, provide clear instruction on each person's role, responsibilities, and goals. Make sure each person's time is being spent on creating an authentic social experience with measurable objectives, so as to justify the resources.

4) How will you measure your performance on social? If your goal is to drive referral traffic, an Instagram presence should not be a priority given that you can't share a clickable link alongside a photo. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr? Those sound like better options. State your 1-2 priority goals, assign KPIs to those goals, and commit to regular reporting, thereby gauging success and determining the appropriate optimizations for your strategy.

The benefits of social media are endless. Threadless built an entire company out of crowd-sourcing content, 16 Handles used Snapchat to deliver a disappearing discount to customers, and Kotex generated massive attention worldwide by leveraging Israeli influencers and information gathered off its Pinterest boards. Clearly, brands can--and will--see great success on social. It just requires some thoughtful planning and strategic decisions.

What about you? What do you think marketers should ask themselves in order to make the most of their time on social?