Because social media moves so quickly, it's easy to get caught in the trap of having to be everywhere all at once. There's constant pressure to be active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, YouTube, LinkedIn, Medium, Periscope and the rest.
While it's a great idea to stay on top of trends across the social media landscape, the key to growing an audience on social media is much simpler: do less.
I don't mean to post less or engage less or monitor less of your activity. What I mean is be active on far fewer platforms. First, grow your audience and influence on one or two platforms, then worry about migrating your them elsewhere.
Whether consciously or not, this is the exact strategy implemented by many, if not most, influencers today.
Logan Paul got his start using one platform: Vine. Lewis Howes got his start using one platform: LinkedIn. Gary Vaynerchuk got his start using one platform: YouTube.
Stop worrying about putting all your eggs in one basket. In the beginning, you don't even have any eggs.
Why Focus on Fewer Platforms?
1. More focus. Better content.
Even the best multitaskers aren't that good at multitasking. As a human, you're at your best when you're zoned in and focused on one task at a time.
On social media, it's much easier to interact with your audience on one or two platforms than it is on 5 platforms. Honing in on one specific channel will enable you to become more acquainted with the nuances, etiquette, and best practices on that channel.
2. Algorithms are already forcing you to choose one or two platforms.
There's only so many minutes per day. Because of this, social media giants have begun an all-out war for our attention. In the past few years, almost all have rolled out an engagement-based news feed, which differs from the traditional, chronological feed.
These algorithms attempt to ensure only the highest quality of content gets placed in front of user's eyeballs, which increases the likelihood they'll continue to use the platform.
As a result, creators must create highly engaged content in order to increase their chances of their audiences seeing the content at all. Creating high quality content takes focus, attention, and most of all: time. Creating an engaged audience takes even more time than creating quality content.
In short, engagement-based algorithms force creators to prioritize one platform over another.
How to Get Started
1. Pick a niche.
This should be something you think critically about. Approach it like you would a business plan. What unique value propositions can you provide in the marketplace?
Will you be the cat expert on Pinterest? The juggling expert on YouTube? The Facebook Advertising expert on Instagram?
2. Pick a platform.
Making this decision can be tough, but these three questions below will provide you with the information you need to make the right choice.
Which platform do you enjoy most?
Pick the platform you enjoy most, even if it's just a little relevant to your brand. Building a presence on a social media platform requires a ton of hard work and patience. If you don't enjoy the platform you're using, it'll make the work even more difficult.
Is the platform proven to last?
There are new social networks popping up every couple months. Don't go all-in on a platform if you don't think it'll be around for the next few years.
If it has been around longer than a year, has a healthy ecosystem, has adequate funding and is being used by top influencers, then it's probably safe to assume it'll be around for a while.
Is your niche already saturated on this platform?
If not, that's great. If it is saturated, then you'll need to niche down.
For example, if you want to become a food expert on Pinterest, you will be up against a lot of competition. If you want to become an expert on organic food on Pinterest, you will be up against a little less competition. If you want to become an expert on organic, dessert food on Pinterest, you will be up against even less competition.
If you want success on a saturated social media platform, you must niche down. You can always expand your niche later on once you have more influence.
3. Be proactive in expanding your influence.
"Don't build a house on rented land." -- Tyler Anderson, Founder of Casual Fridays
As soon as you gain traction on your platform of choice, begin to leverage it to expand your influence elsewhere. This could be your email list, on an entirely other platform, larger blogs and publications, or something else.
We never know what could happen to our favorite platform, so it's best to use your leverage to ensure you'll never lose it.