Identifying Your Social Media Triad

I recently led a webinar for AT&T Small Business Insite about small biz technology and received a question from photographer Lemuel Fillyaw about managing social media marketing efforts:

I’m a tech addict. How much tech and social media is too much? Not monetarily, mind you, but quantity (in order to) produce quality?

My response discussed one of my personal theories on social media marketing:

I think of my Social Media Triad: Three very strong social networks where I’m building a good following and where I can do the bulk of my promoting. Everything else is the icing, while those three places are the cake. My triad consists of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Then when I want to cast a wider net, I use HelloTxt or to spread a little icing!

The term “Social Media Triad” is my own, just my way of stating that three good social media sites or tools can be your foundation; where you need to focus to build a following, engage meaningfully with others, and promote what you do in appropriate ways. Sure, it is tempting to have presences and profiles all over the place, but when it boils down to it, there are only a handful of places where you need to spend most of your time.

Your Social Media Triad could consist entirely of social networks, comprise a blog, microblog and a social resume, or be any combination that provides you with the right doses of:

  • Presence. You want to be places where it makes sense for you to be. If you are a graphic designer, LinkedIn might not necessarily be your first choice; perhaps a more portfolio-based network could be more appropriate. For a photographer? Maybe Flickr is the right place to start.
  • Reach. You want to have the potential to not just reach a lot of people but a lot of theĀ right people. But remember, sometimes you can reach the right people through others who know and trust you, or can vouch for your work.
  • Interaction. You want to choose a place where you can interact with others in meaningful ways — in this case, for business. If you hate tweeting, chances are that Twitter is not a great place for you to be in terms of interaction.

Here’s how I break down my own Social Media Triad and how each one has helped me business-wise so far:


I’ve been on Twitter since March 2007 and have taken a very personal approach to my main account @alizasherman. I dance on the tightrope that divides professional and personal. I share a lot of my own writing and work, my client projects, interesting articles and posts I’m reading, and my thoughts on all things social media. But I also riff about food, share personal photos, talk about how I’m feeling — and can get a bit confessional after a glass or two of wine. Blending the personal and the professional can be risky for many people, but that’s who I am and who I’ve been since I started my first website in 1994. I “live” online in ways that may make some people uncomfortable, but it works for me.

For business: Twitter helped me to re-establish my visibility in my industry after a several-year hiatus. Twitter has helped my company find some of our key team members. I get my daily news and information about my industry and the world around me from Twitter. I get answers to my tech questions, lots of feedback on my projects and ideas, and some incredible business advice in general. My support network on Twitter is phenomenal, even for business.


I’ve been on LinkedIn since 2002 although my original LinkedIn account became inaccessible to me so I actually have two accounts; this is the corrects one. I love LinkedIn and know that you get out of LinkedIn what you put into it. When I’m diligent with updating and reaching out to my contacts in meaningful ways, LinkedIn becomes a bustling hub of true business networking. If I need to find someone or something strictly for business, LinkedIn is the first place I go. But when I neglect LinkedIn, it tends to sink back into the shadows and is far less fruitful.

For business: I’ve found excellent candidates for positions with my company and some leads to new clients. I’ve been able to get top-notch advice on business issues, and try to reciprocate with answers to questions where I have expertise.


I’m not a huge Facebook user. I jump in when I have something to share but tend to leave it for days at a time. I struggle with keeping my Facebook Page updated and have yet to engage often with people there. The real engagement that I get with my actual friends on my Facebook Profile is a wonderful thing, just not directly business-related. Still, I cannot deny the power of the sheer number of people using Facebook and the friendly networking that goes on that could lead to business deals and strategic partnerships. To me, it feels like while LinkedIn is the high-powered networking event, Facebook is more like the backyard barbeque.

For business: I’ve gotten a few client contracts from Facebook, back when I was still a sole proprietorship. Now that my consultancy has grown into an agency and our charge is to reach Chief Marketing Officers and VPs of Marketing at bigger companies, Facebook is a good place to have a presence, but in many ways it requires a lot more time and finesse for true B2B outreach.

Finding Your Triad

There is no combination that will suit everyone, and not everyone needs three social media accounts. Yet many of us have dozens, because we also have accounts on YouTube, SlideShare, Flickr, Foursquare or GoWalla, even MySpace. Then there’s Delicious, Digg, Reddit, not to mention accounts on online communities of interest and our blogs. Linking some of these sites together or occasionally using a broadcasting or cross-posting tool — like Hellotxt and or any number of new social media management systems (SMMS), like HootSuite and Sprout Social — can help make managing your multiple presences on multiple channels easier.

But if you want good quality business interactions in social media channels, pare down and focus — create value and vibrancy first. You can always expand out onto other networks again as you grow your connections, fans, friends and following. Always keep in mind what you are trying to achieve with your social media presences. And always remember the adage: less is more. Don’t spread yourself too thin, or real value is lost.

What is your social media triad?

stock.xchng image by blogless
diagram by Aliza Sherman

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