No matter what your business does, having a single social presence probably isn’t enough: a good social networking strategy requires activity on multiple social channels. “Multiple social presences means multiple ways to touch and communicate immediately with our most important audiences,” explains Emily Burns Perryman, Integrated Media & Digital Strategy Supervisor at Freed Maxick CPAs. “Having multiple social media accounts helps us meet our business objectives and allows us the chance to address different audiences with customized and tailored approaches to reach firm goals.”

Whatever you’re using social channels for, the extra reach provided by being present on multiple networks can be extremely useful. In Perryman’s experience, “having multiple social media accounts with quality content also allows us be found more easily in search, helps reinforce our brand identity, values and excellent reputation — and helps us market our services and expertise to those who may need help.”

Unfortunately, managing multiple social networks can be difficult. To juggle numerous social presences, you need the right strategy for your brand and the staff to make that strategy a reality. Let’s take a look at just what you need to be successful across several social media networks.

Which Social Networks Should Your Business Choose?

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Social success isn’t about jumping on every social network. “As a business you need to be strategic about your social presence,” explains Allie Freeland, PR Director for iAcquire. “Learn about each of the networks’ demographics, usage, and relatability to your business. Don’t join a network just to be on it.”

“Choose only the networks that you have the resources — time, money, human capital — to devote to,” says Perryman. “Look for networks that will reach and engage with your audience best. Provide quality advertising tools or products to take advantage of, and that represent your brand or product most effectively.” For Freed Maxick CPS, LinkedIn’s business-focused network proved to be an ideal social match, helping it connect with clients and prospective clients. But that doesn’t mean it’s the right answer for your business, which may find its target audience on Twitter or Pinterest.

Knowing the audience you’re trying to reach is crucial to figuring out which networks you should be on. “We’re able to reach different audiences with each social network,” says Alexandra Wolf, Marketing Coordinator intern with Homescout Realty. “Instagram helps us reach an audience that enjoys a strong visual component. Twitter is proving to be most useful in business-to-consumer engagement, and Facebook is great because there’s no limit on the amount of words you can use in a status so we can create more detailed content there.”

The goal is to reach out to your audience where they’re already spending time, wherever that may be.”We have the ability to communicate important, educational, timely and even entertaining content in many different formats,” says Perryman. “This way our audiences can get what they need, when they need it, however they like it served up — whether that’s a blog format, an image or video, instant chat, a Facebook conversation, or even an RSS feed.”

How to Manage Multiple Social Presences

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Once you’ve picked the right networks, the next hurdle is managing your presences. But beware — posting identical content across numerous social channels won’t cut it. A good social presence will target posts to its audience and regularly post new content, mixing promotional content with other items likely to be of interest to your followers.

“We schedule posts on most networks seven days a week. For the major social sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn we’ll post multiple times a day and for smaller networks it just depends on the flow of information or news to promote,” explains Freeland. “This doesn’t mean that you should follow our lead. For businesses just starting out, employ a crawl, walk, run strategy.” To get started on a new network Freeland recommends making a few posts a week and making a point to engage with followers — especially influencers in your desired community. Starting small gives you leeway to figure out just what your audience is interested in and you can adjust as needed.

When it comes to what exactly to post, there aren’t any hard and fast rules because what works for one business may not work for another — but everyone agrees that you have to mix straight-up promotional content with other material. Too much self-promotion, and your account becomes spammy, but too little and you may not get much out of your social presence, so it’s important to find the right balance. “We try to keep a good mix of industry content, location content, and company content,” says Wolf. “I’d say 30 to 40 percent of what we post is original content consisting of company photos or blog posts.”

While a specific percentage of original content to hit may seem like an easy metric, it’s not necessarily the right answer for every brand. “We don’t want to clog up our friends’, followers’ or connections’ social media accounts with content of no value to them,” says Perryman. “The rule of thumb is that we aim to post when we have something of value to share. Is it timely, informative, educational, useful, helping solve a problem, meeting a business goal or objective, entertaining and relevant at that moment? If so, we’ll post it. If not, we’ll wait until we have something of value to share with our audiences.”

The bottom line? Know your audience. Before you dive into a social network (or social networks), be sure you know who you’re trying to talk to — and that you’re posting where they’re reading. However many networks you’re on, start slow and adjust your strategy based on your followers’ responses.

[Image credits: Link Humans UKColetivo MambembSebastien Wiertz]