There are a couple ways to answer that question, and it really depends on a lot of factors. In my opinion, it makes more sense to focus your efforts in a few places for a couple of different reasons. At the same time, if you have a super broad topic, it can make sense to try and cover them all.
So there isn’t exactly a cookie cutter answer to the question, but there are a few reasons why I like to focus on certain sites.
If you run a site about cats and dogs, it doesn’t makes much sense to try and get content on Digg, where the audience is largely tech related. Instead, try and focus on sites where people interested in what you’re doing actually hang out. Sites that have groups for many topics work well, such as MySpace and YouTube. You can also focus on niche social media sites like Dogster, a social site for dog lovers.
Another reason I recommend focusing your efforts is what I call the trickle down effect. This means if you have a campaign that is successful on Digg, Delicious and Netscape, then that effect will most likely trickle down to the smaller social media sites as well.
The other thing that is important to remember is that different social media sites should be used for different things based on the goals of your campaign. For example, a successful MySpace campaign will hardly produce any backlinks to your site, if any at all. But MySpace is great for creating mindshare and gaining new customers. On the other hand, a successful linkbait article that makes the Digg homepage can result in hundreds or even thousands of links, though it’s much harder to convert those users into customers unless what you are doing is highly relevant to their interests.
More focus equals more success. The reason I say this is because if you put more focus or effort into less of these sites, your chances of success will be much higher. I’d rather work hard at getting my campaigns successful on just a few sites instead of spreading myself too thin and possibly ending up with them all being flops.
Conversions are one of the hardest things to master with SMM. Campaigns are notorious for sending loads of traffic, but only the highly targeted campaigns will actually convert. The main reason I think people are having a hard time with conversions is they are not properly targeting the social media sites. Make sure you target the most relevant sites, and you will convert at a much higher rate.
Think of it as taking a shotgun approach to hit a moving target rather than careful aim with a rifle. The shotgun will hit a lot of things, but maybe not what you’re after. The rifle is more precise — less effort, but more likely to hit, if you’re aiming right.
For search marketers, there’s a similar comparison. You can get a lot of traffic by targeting broadly popular terms, such as "shoes" or "movies." But if you only sell hiking books or documentaries, then targeting those broad terms is a lot of effort to gain lots of people who probably won’t convert, since you won’t have products for most of them. As you get focused with a search term list, so you want to often focus when considering social media sites.
It is important to take all these things into consideration when launching your SMM campaign. It takes a lot of research to figure exactly who your target audience is, where they’re hiding, and how you’re going to capture their attention. But if you do your homework and have good execution, your campaign is sure to be a success.
Cameron Olthuis is director of marketing and design for ACS and writes regularly on social media issues through the company’s blog, Pronet Advertising. The Let’s Get Social column appears Tuesdays at Search Engine Land.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.