Thin the herd: why (and how) your business should simplify your social media channels

How many social media handles should your business have?

There’s two common scenarios:

  1. For new businesses, they want to make sure they ‘claim’ their name; they want to be on as many channels as possible to make sure they reach as many people as possible.
  2. For established companies, they have added new channels as they came into vogue – first Facebook, then Twitter, then LinkedIn, then Instagram, then…. but they never sunset any.

This leads to the Social Media Icon Clutter. You’ve seen it – the long row of icons at the bottom of the email signature, on the website, at the end of the commercial, or even painted on a truck.

You might argue: “But that’s the beauty of social media – aside from your time and energy, it’s free marketing!”

But – your time and energy isn’t free. Even if you have the unpaid intern doing your social media, that takes time to manage.

And if there’s nobody engaging with the channel, you’re talking to an empty room.

So, if you have a handful of social media accounts, what should you focus on?

Recently, I asked a client if she really wanted to keep the 3 channels listed on her site – Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. (Hi Cheryl!) 

We talked about what networks her audience uses, and for what purpose. When we agreed that Twitter wasn’t a good fit for her customers, she audibly breathed a sigh of relief and her entire body language relaxed. “Oh, thank goodness. I really don’t like Twitter,” she said.

Here’s the thing – she IS her customer. If she doesn’t like Twitter, chances are, her customers don’t either.

What channels are you struggling with? What would make you sigh with relief if you didn’t have to maintain it?

And on the other side; what channels do you like? What, as Marie Kondo would ask, sparks joy?

If you don’t have the answer, or think they’re all performing, here are 3 steps to a better, cleaner, leaner social media portfolio:

  1. Ruthlessly evaluate
  2. Go where your customers are
  3. Keep what you can maintain

Our end goal: have ONE or TWO channels, maximum. If you can maintain and grow those, great! You can add more. But until you can truly master one, and connect and build a community there, you’re spreading your business too thin.

Plus, you’re giving the customer too many options. It’s the paradox of choice – give them too many options, and they won’t pick any. Give them ONE thing, and they’ll know exactly what to do (i.e. follow you).

Ruthlessly evaluate: How to evaluate a social media channel

There are lots of ghost accounts out there – where a Twitter isn’t actively updated, but simply copies everything that’s posted on Instagram. Or maybe your Facebook is controlled totally by Instagram.

Go in and look at the last 10 posts. Did they get more than a few ‘likes’? Is it driving any real engagement – e.g. new comments, shares, or even new followers finding you from your hashtags or comments?

Be honest with what the numbers are telling you versus the time and energy to maintain that channel, and the potential embarrassment of having a channel that doesn’t actually perform that well.

Protip: Do you need an expensive, fancy tool to track your social media analytics? Nope. Unless you have 20k+ active followers, the built-in analytics tools are pretty decent at telling you what you need to know. If you haven’t clicked in to your Instagram analytics, take a look. 

Go where your customers are

“So what social should I have?” If you aren’t certain which channel to focus on, or don’t like social media at all, I have a simple answer for you: go where your customers are.

Wherever they’re comfortable hanging out, getting updates, and posting new things is where you should engage them, too.

Does that mean you have to personally enjoy that channel (from Cheryl’s example above)? If your customers love TikTok, but you struggle to update your own personal Facebook, should you force yourself to use it? Nope. That’s why you hire someone else to manage it.

Keep what you can maintain

Be honest about your time, and your content. If you don’t have enough to say, or feel like you’re forcing yourself to post about irrelevant things, then that’s a clear sign you need to take a step back and focus on your content strategy.

With every post, you’re asking for precious time and attention from your customers and prospects – don’t waste your time or theirs.

Get good at one (or maybe two) channels – add value, incorporate it into your marketing cadence, see results, iterate and improve.

What’s the upside to taking honest stock and streamlining your social channels?

  1. You’ll just feel better about it.
  2. Your content quality will improve.
  3. Your community interaction will become more focused and deeper.
  4. Your channels will look better to strangers or prospects investigating your brand in the consideration phase.
  5. Marie Kondo will be proud of you.
  6. Your audience will have less choice and be more likely to pick just one channel to follow you on.

If you decided to sunset some channels, be sure to email me and let me know! We’ll start a (virtual) trophy room.