This post is in partnership with Entrepreneur. The article below was originally published at entrepreneur.com.
By Alex Barker, Entrepreneur
Social media can be an extremely valuable tool for entrepreneurs who want to promote their business. But, when it comes to selecting and using a social media network, less is more.
Many entrepreneurs mistakenly think that promoting their brand on every social media network will skyrocket their business growth and, ultimately, make them more money. However, this is almost guaranteed to backfire — think dormant accounts, lackluster content and, at worst, disengaged customers.
Too many options, not enough time
Most Internet-savvy people can probably name at least five social networks off the top of their head — some can probably name 10. Here’s the thing: Your customers are not using all of these social networks consistently. Just like you, they’re busy. They simply don’t have the time.
Entrepreneurs need to focus their marketing efforts on the social networks that their customers are using. In order to select the one or two platforms that will best reach your desired customers, you’re going to have to ask yourself a few of questions:
- Who’s your target audience? Are they male or female? How old are they? Do they have certain hobbies or interests? It’s no secret that certain demographic groups gravitate toward certain social media platforms. If you need further guidance on which platform to choose, many studies — such as The Pew Research Center’s Social Media Update 2014 — are available for free.
- What type of promotional materials do you create? If you’re a photographer, Instagram might be the right choice. Or, if your specialty is how-to videos, consider YouTube. Is brevity your thing? Try Twitter. The point is, choose social media that best matches your business. A law firm doesn’t fit well on Instagram.
- How actively do you want to provide new content? Social media users have certain expectations about how often they want to see new content. Facebook (FB) and Twitter (TWTR) users, for example, may expect more frequent updates than YouTube (GOOG) users. Consider the commitment of maintaining a social media presence before choosing.
By finding a few platforms that fit for your business, you’ll have more time to create quality, targeted content and deliver it on a consistent basis, which will hopefully find new customers.
Optimizing your accounts
Your social media business accounts should reflect professionalism and competence. Your accounts should make customers feel good about choosing to do business with you.
Achieving this goal isn’t easy — you have to do the work required to get to know your customers and develop content that caters to their needs. If you don’t generate content that’s valuable to your customers, they won’t read it. You might even scare off potential customers and lose those you already have.
A disorganized, hurried social media approach that misses the mark is likely to scare customers away. And several dormant accounts may have a similar effect.
By focusing on a few social media activities, you’ll allow yourself the time you need to create a workable strategy, engage with your customers, think through your posts — and, for heaven’s sake — proofread and use Spellcheck! You’ll be able to put more effort into boosting your social media presence with exclusive, high-quality content, SEO and advertising.
Save your sanity
If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re probably pretty busy. And, if you’re anything like me, you don’t have a second to waste.
As we’ve already discussed, effectively managing social media involves much more than writing a few blurbs once a week and clicking the mouse a couple times. Doing it well takes a lot of time and involves a lot of legwork.
You might consider hiring a professional to assist you. Or, you could try a social media management platform like HootSuite or Edgar, which saves you time from constantly updating your profile. Or maybe that’s not on your radar quite just yet.
Either way, don’t give yourself an ulcer — or bust your budget — trying to manage a bunch of accounts that potential customers aren’t reading!
The right social media business mindset, one or two social media platforms and a little research will go a long way to helping you boost your business for years to come.
More from Entrepreneur:
4 Do’s and 4 Don’ts for Businesses Using Social Media
5 Ways to Use Data to Inform Your Social Media Marketing Strategy
The Modern Storefront: What Instagram Could Mean For Your Business