Many years into the social selling concept, one of the most often heard questions still posed to Social Media trainers, strategists and agencies is “Do I have to be everywhere?”. While many agencies and consultants try to get their clients to have a presence everywhere, I think that is a big mistake, unless, of course, your audience is everywhere.

Before you jump in and create more profiles than you will ever be able to manage on your own, stop, look, listen and figure out where your target audience can be found.

To do this takes the same skills as any other networking activities. You don’t show up at every networking function in a fifty mile radius of your office, regardless of the hour. If you did you would never be able to get any work done and service all of those people you are meeting, never mind having time to create real relationships that can be a source of referrals for you in growing your business. (For more on growing your network, you can read a couple of our old posts).

Instead, you probably look at who will be attending any particular function. You will also check who belongs to the sponsoring organization. The same is true online. If you are in the logistics business you are not likely to attend a conference for trust and estate attorneys. Similarly online you should not be spending time on a forum for tax questions, if you are in manufacturing. Many people are under the mistaken notion that online is different, after all both of those groups of people are on LinkedIn so you should be too. That is true, both groups of people are on LinkedIn, but for the most part they are not reading and posting to the same groups on LinkedIn.

To find your audience you first have to define them. After you have put pen to paper and written down five demographic characteristics of your target audience you can begin to research where they are really spending their time online. Remember, there are people behind those business profiles, just like there are people on the other end of the phone, but that does not mean that the marketing manager who spends her time on Pinterest when she gets home ever looks at it during working hours, so verify where your audience is spending time and then create a true interactive presence there.