I'm admittedly a bit of a social media/tech geek. I love to try out the latest and greatest (or not so great) social networks and apps and often insist on telling people about them. I also generally like everything. To that point where I have even come around on Google+, which I used to really enjoy bashing. But I am a marketer by trade and literally get paid to know all this stuff. As a local business owner I can only imagine how it must all feel. Just when you start getting comfortable with one marketing channel, another appears. And another, and another and another.
In fact, our latest eBook shows that 70% of local business owners state that they don't have the time to keep their online listings up to date on all of the networks that consumers use. Heck, I barely have time to keep up with all of networks and I'm not trying to run a spa or a restaurant or a construction business.
So, what should you do about it? I have three pieces of advice.
1) Focus on the networks that matter to your core audience. Maybe you know what your customers like already, but it never hurts to ask them what channels they like and what they want to hear about from you. For some businesses Twitter is right, for others it’s Yelp. For many others it’s Facebook. Don’t risk wasting your valuable time by just guessing! Not sure what each network does? Check out Constant Contact’s Social Quickstarter web site for a quick overview.
2) Use a tool to help you manage your listings. While there are certainly challenges associated with the multitude of listing sites and social networks there are also many positives. Even as the Internet splinters into tons of networks you can get your products and services in front of people by using software (like SinglePlatform) that lets you update once and publish everywhere people search online. You can make yourself crazy by trying to be everywhere at once but there are tools to help make your life easier!
3) Run your business first. My friend Mark Schmulen, co-founder of NutshellMail (also acquired by Constant Contact), likes to say "there is no marketing cure for sucking" and I totally agree. If you're not creating a great experience for your customers when they visit your business than it doesn't matter what networks you are on.
How much do you worry about keeping up with the latest consumer networks?