If you’re trying to decide on the best social media strategy, you’ve probably missed this crucial first step…

This is a pretty common scenario: I’ll get on the phone with someone to consult with them about their business and somewhere in the conversation they’ll ask a question.

The question usually sounds something like this: “Should I get a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a LinkedIn profile? What about Pinterest? Or Instagram?

It’s a good question to ask… unfortunately, business owners frequently ask it too early in the process.

My response is always this…

WHAT DOES YOUR SALES FUNNEL TELL YOU?

Your sales funnel is the most important part of your business. It’s the flow of your customers from first hearing about you… allllllllll the way through developing a relationship with you… allllllllll the way to the point when they buy from you, and beyond.

It’s the step-by-step sequence that people go through as they become leads, then prospects, the customers, then evangelists for your business.

I think most business owners know that (at least intuitively, even if they don’t know their sales funnel as deeply as they could).

However, business owners also encounter an onslaught of messages that tells them: “You need to be on social media and if you’re not on ALL social channels, your business is as good as dead in the water.

THE MYTH OF SOCIAL MEDIA AND THE FACT OF BUSINESS

Social media is a means of communication not a universal business strategy. It’s a way to engage with people, to connect with them, to listen, to have conversations, to advise, to help, to share… and yes, even sometimes to sell. Because it’s a means of communication, it’s also a useful marketing tool… but it is NOT a universal business strategy.

The reason is: Not all of your prospective customers are active on every social media channel or even ON every social media channel.

One client found that his target market of older professional men with an interest in cars were active on LinkedIn but not Facebook and definitely not Pinterest. Another client found that his target market of a specific group of real estate investors was active on Facebook but not Twitter or Instagram. One client found that his clients weren’t on social media at all.

Consumers use social media to connect and learn and share. But not all consumers do. Some don’t get it, others don’t feel the need, others don’t have time.

Many business owners seem to assume that ALL of their customers are on ALL social media ALL the time so they invest a lot of time and energy and money into building social brands. They discover a significant lack of engagement and zero return on all of that marketing investment.

The truth is very different: Some target markets are using some social media some of the time. (Sometimes more than others).

There are situations when a different approach works better. From direct mail to print ads to cold calling, just to name a few.

HERE’S WHAT TO DO INSTEAD

Before you invest heavily into every social media channel, figure out where your best customers spend their time. Are they hanging out on Twitter? Are they hanging out on Facebook? Great. Invest there. Or, as I suggested in another blog I run about copywriting or real estate investors, if your target market is spending more of their time at their kid’s softball tournaments, then skip social and sponsor the team.

Invest time thinking about where your audience’s attention is focused and that will tell you exactly how to connect with them.

It might be one or more social media channels… or it might not.

Aaron Hoos

Aaron Hoos is a writer, strategist, and investor who builds and optimizes profitable sales funnels. He is the author of The Sales Funnel Bible and he's a real estate investor and a copywriter for real estate investors.