There certainly are a lot of social networks these days. There are so many, in fact, you could spend all day working the major ones, let alone all of the smaller sites that make up the social network vertical. Businesses are extremely excited about all the social media options they have these days. They're doing their best to be represented on all the major networks, because they don't want to left out of the latest 'gold rush' to hit the web.
Many 'inbound marketing' pundits these days suggest a comprehensive approach to social media channels that doesn't leave a lot for for the important aspects of engagement and personalization. Unfortunately for this approach, none of the social networks are exactly the same so they can't be used in the same exact ways. If we're not careful, we end up forgetting about relationship marketing while focusing almost exclusively on lead generation through inbound marketing. Although a regimented inbound marketing approach including the use of automated tools is prevalent these days, I'm not sure it really is the best way to go for small businesses.
A "one size fits all" mentality cannot work for social media marketing
Case in point: Twitter and LinkedIn. LinkedIn allows people to add their Twitter feeds to their LinkedIn activity stream, which makes for a jumbled mess. In fact, these types of messages are not that interesting to look at from the perspective of LinkedIn users. LinkedIn is first and foremost a professional contact list, so seeing status updates about "LOLCats" isn't all that appropriate, especially considering who's in your network. LinkedIn is most effective for personal networking. Knowing that, it doesn't follow naturally that you want to flood anyone's timeline with your Twitter feed, which tends to be much looser. Still, you see people doing this all day, and some of them even consider themselves social media experts.
Twitter has to be used right for success
Twitter is often misunderstood by small businesses marketers, many of who seem to view it solely as a 'broadcast medium.' In fact, it's a broadcast medium, if you're a legitimate broadcaster like the BBC. Small businesses, like home improvement contractors, aren't celebrities or broadcasters. So what would make their social media people think it's okay to send out messages all that link back to the company's static website? Let's face it, it's not all that interested. Not only will it not likely end in engagement, but it probably won't results in sales either.
Twitter is a place for 'real-time search,' and every social media marketing effort you make should relate to that idea. Check out this article I wrote on using the hashtags for small business media marketing. I think this is a decent approach that should serve as a great alternative to 'link-dropping' on an automated schedule.
Further complicating the whole small business social media marketing landscape are Facebook and the new Google+. Neither of those websites is all that similar to Twitter, or LinkedIn, requiring customized strategies as well. Considering how important social media is becoming to companies, it's not surprising to learn that the growth of social media jobs is high.
If you need to do this work yourself, you have to educate yourself on the current issues while learning the best practices for ethical promotion on each of the various networks. I invite you to stop by for future posts where I can go into more detail about great ways to use social media marketing to help your small business grow. If you have any comments or questions, I'd love to hear them. Thanks for stopping by.