Stop chasing shiny new social media platforms, and be consistent on a few.
Snapchat, TikTok, Twitch, Instagram and now Clubhouse — it’s all a little overwhelming, isn’t it? So many entrepreneurs get into an anxiety-induced frenzy over which platform is right for their business. They start to have a “Fear of Missing Out” and jump onto the newest, shiniest social platform — only to crash and burn with a zombie account that is rarely updated because the password has gone missing and they’ve moved onto the next platform just to do it all again.
In a world where your voice is amplified to millions of potential followers who can take your business to the next level, how do you do it all without burning out?
Answer: you don’t.
I’m a firm believer in reducing friction to make a business run smoothly, so I advocate we all take a step back and stop trying to be everywhere. Using every social media platform available doesn’t amplify your message. If anything, it dilutes it. To keep your platforms running, you’ve got to constantly run back and forth, adjust the speed, maintain the balance and be sure you don’t stumble and ruin the whole show.
What’s the key to being successful on social media?
Consistency. That’s it. It’s a stupidly simple concept but incredibly hard to implement. It’s like a marathon: In the beginning, you’re with this huge group of people, all vying for the gold. As you move further along the route, the group starts to thin out. Then as you keep going, you find yourself against maybe two or three other runners who are super-focused. Now you’re no longer up against hundreds of other runners.
It’s the same way with social media. How many of your competitors post consistently enough to end up being a threat to your platform? Probably not as many as you think. I’ve seen so many businesses get into that “shiny object” phase of posting. They post a bunch of content in a quick burst, and then crickets.
Consistency beats the algorithms
Consider the behind-the-curtain world of social media platform algorithms. While we don’t know the actual coding behind it, it’s safe to make some assumptions that can help us win favor.
Social media platforms make money by showing ads, so their goal is to show as many ads as possible. To do this, they have to keep their users on the platform for as long as they can. Based on some terrifyingly accurate data scraping, they’re able to find out what content is appealing to you, so they’ll show more of that with the goal of keeping you scrolling.
But the algorithm is lazy. It doesn’t want to work hard to find content that keeps you interested, so it looks for low-hanging fruit that it recognizes you’re interested in seeing. What’s that low-hanging fruit? An account that is seen as a reliable source of content because it regularly publishes new posts. It’s safer for the algorithm to source content from an active account than it is to keep scouring for new sources, so it decides to use that content stream to its advantage.
Understanding the algorithm of social media platforms gives you an edge. If you can create a plan that makes it easy for you to consistently push content, then the algorithm will take notice and start trusting your account as a reliable source.
Figure out where you can be consistent
It’s so much easier said than done when it comes to this part. So let’s break down how you can figure out which social media platform is the best fit for your business and where you can confidently say you’ll be able to consistently publish content:
- Who is your audience? Knowing this is the first step in figuring out where to put your energy. Don’t look at competitors here, as too often your competitors are just following everyone else and haven’t taken the time to figure out if the customers are actually there. Consider the demographics of each platform ahead of time and see if it matches up to your profile. Luckily, as many platforms are now public companies, this information is easily accessible by Googling “[platform] demographics.”
- How do they use the platform? When I was a director of marketing, I got in close-to-screaming matches because the people outside of the marketing departments wanted to be on Instagram purely because they felt like we should. I pushed back against this every time because we weren’t a visual company and Instagram users were not on that platform to look for the services we offered. Think about how people actually use each platform and be honest about if your business fits those use cases. Pinterest and LinkedIn have very different uses, so your posts will have a vastly different outcome on each. Don’t waste your effort trying to scream into a mic when no one is listening.
- Do you have a plan for how you can source and post content consistently? Are you able to source content consistently to post? If you don’t have a lot of products or aren’t a visual company, image-heavy platforms like TikTok and Instagram might not be the best use of your efforts. Conversely, if you’re a very visual and consumer-driven brand, platforms like LinkedIn and Clubhouse might not be the right fit.
There aren’t hard and fast rules for every business, as some companies who rebel against the strategy succeed while others don’t. If you’re struggling and feel overwhelmed by social media, keep it simple by following these rules. Know who your people are, find the platforms they use for the type of thing you provide and post consistently to have the algorithms trust you and push your content further.
This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.