By Jerry James Stone, AVB Marketing

As a retailer you’ve probably been given a lot of marketing advice over the years. Some of it good, some of it … not so much. The advice has probably included social media and how you need to be on not just one channel but every single platform out there.  

You’re told you better be active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, Snapchat, TikTok, Google+, Vine, Meerkat, Friendster, MySpace and Orkut or your business will fail! Game over. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

Related: Rocky Mountain Members Livestream Social Media Insights

Here’s the hard truth: Those people are right but also very, very wrong. The approach to social media marketing is tricky and nuanced, but by the end of this article you will know exactly which channels you should be on, which ones you shouldn’t, and why.

Who the Heck Am I?

First, let me begin with why I am sharing this information with you and why it couldn’t hurt to listen. I am the Department Manager for Social & Content at AVB Marketing. Not only do I lead the group’s efforts on social and blogs, I do this in my free time as well. As a food blogger, I have amassed followings of 135,000 on YouTube, 80,000 on Facebook and 69,000 on Twitter. I used to manage social for the Discovery Channel and I am here to help every AVB member reach their digital marketing potential on both social and content. 

Effective Social Media for Brands

Here’s the thing – not all social media channels survive. I mean, even Google, the Internet powerhouse, has had more than a few homegrown social media networks crumble and fail. Let’s all pour out a forty for Google+. 

That said, you should be active on social media channels that:

  1. Are appropriate for your business and brand, and;
  2. You have time to properly invest in. 

For example, it makes no sense to be on YouTube unless you have a strong visual story that can only be conveyed through video. Social media is about extending the personality and nuance of your brand and business in a way that is channel appropriate. Watch other brands that are similar to yours and see what their content is, and more importantly, whether it is succeeding. Does it have a decent amount of views? This is important, but what you are really looking for is engagement. Do people like and comment on the videos? Do this for any channel you wish to participate in. 

Second and probably most important, you shouldn’t invest time in anything you cannot do well, and that is especially true when it comes to social media. You must find the balance between your brand messaging and channel-appropriate content. The efforts you make for print ads, radio, Google search and display ads, and Facebook ads (kinda) rarely translate to organic social. Those channels are much farther down the funnel than social media.

You are developing a relationship with potential customers that are outside of the purchase cycle. For example, Facebook polls, memes and funny videos are a great way to extend and grow your brand. Product shots are not. 

Here is another way to think about it: When you open Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, or any other social channel, why are you doing that?  It’s probably not to look at photos of a dishwasher. Keep that in mind and you will succeed on social.

Remember, your brand has a personality, just like you, so let that shine! Only focus on channels you have the time to master and you will build a following. Don’t let the number of likes, shares and comments discourage you. We all start somewhere. 

I began my social media efforts in 2008 and, hey, now Christy Teigen follows me on Twitter. If I can do this, so can you!


Jerry James Stone is Department Manager for Social & Content at AVB Marketing, a unit of YSN publisher AVB Inc.