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Let’s talk about online presence. We all want to figure out how to knock it out of the park. We want tons of traffic to our website. We want a million followers on every social platform. We want all of those followers to become customers. We want those customers to then tell their entire networks about how awesome we are so that their friends then become our customers. That’s what it’s all about, right?

It’s a nice idea, but as many things in business are… “Easier said than done.”

I’ve been doing a lot of reading and listening in the last few weeks to try to up my knowledge. After a book and a few podcasts I noticed a common piece of advice.

When you’re starting your online business presence, it’s very wise to start with and master one marketing platform before you try to diversify.

Why start with one when there are so many?

While all of the brands we follow on social media are on multiple platforms and they’re doing well with it, most businesses just don’t have the expertise or bandwidth to take that on all at once. Big brands often have full-time, salaried employees with an educational background in marketing or business that do social media marketing and strategy for their whole job. So let’s talk about how to roll out an online presence and marketing effort that is a better, smarter fit for small businesses.

Why do brands do too much too soon?

  • Free and low-cost content management tools have made it really easy for small business owners to post to several platforms all at once with just a few clicks. This results in loads of content that can end up generic, repetitive, and not customized to how users process information on different platforms.
  • It’s easy to fall into peer pressure. Since you see so many brands doing all of their channels well, you try to do all of your channels well when you may not have the time or resources to do so.

How can we do things smarter then?

  • Every channel caters to a different user experience.

If they were all targeted toward the same customer with the same use-case, there would be no need for so many apps, sites and social networks. Facebook users, Twitter users, LinkedIn users and blog readers have different expectations of different platforms. By picking one to start with, you are able to focus your efforts on tuning your messaging to the audience that hangs out on that platform. When your messaging and your engagement match up with the way people want to experience information, you will grow a following that is more interested and involved.

  • Starting small = starting smart.

Being in one place allows you to build a better knowledge of the trends and format that are successful. Once you’ve figured that out, you can tailor those lessons learned to other platforms as you diversify. This would be the more efficient option than starting with 3 different channels and trying to figure out why none of them are flourishing or why one is and the other two aren’t, etc.

  • Tackle one, tailor the others.

Once you’ve figured out one platform you can then take those lessons learned, apply and alter them to fit your next platform and the one after that. Knowing what is best for your first channel will help you to customize content for all other channels after that.

  • Saturate first, scale later.

By focusing your efforts to one place, you can saturate that market more easily AND scale more easily. Use your time and energy in channel #1 to spread your reach as far as possible. Find your customers, encourage them to follow you, and produce awesome content that will make it worth their time. If you do this right, you’ll have a strong, engaged existing audience and it will be easier for you to extend your reach to them and their friends on a second, third and fourth platform.

Have you had success in building your online presence? If you haven’t been through this stage yet, hopefully this post will get you headed in the right direction! Comment if you have questions or topics you want to hear more about.