Social Media Mania

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As if it wasn’t hard enough finding time to keep your website up to date, now everybody is telling you to create and post to a bunch of social media sites, too. Not enough time in the day, amiright? Like many things, there’s no black and white easy to determine approach to this. That being said, I would like to make a few arguments and point out a few things that might help put your mind at ease. 

Should you be on Social Media?

Yes. For similar reasons as to why “yes” was the answer last decade regarding whether you should have a website or not. Social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter are their own smaller versions of the Internet as a whole. Ecosystems of people, and they represent where many people spend a lot of their time. If your business requires the attention of people, you can’t really afford to ignore social media. 

There are many potential benefits to you in making sure your business or organization has a presence on at least one social media platform. In the old days you had to spend a lot of money to cover print production and postage to get information in front of eyeballs, where now you can do it with a couple of clicks. In the old days it was difficult to really measure the effect of marketing, since no matter how many direct mails you send, you can’t really know how many people took the time to read it (unless they actually then also contact you). With social media you often have ways of seeing who’s viewed what, clicked on things, shared, etc. (Depending on the social media platform.) Maybe even one of the best benefits is that people will share something useful to them, which costs you nothing and extends your reach. How often do people pass direct mail around to their friends? 

Where do I even start?

Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapshat, the list goes on. (See 20 Popular Social Media Sites Right Now at Small Business Trends for examples.) Some people recommend being on ALL the places you can be, but I would suggest that it’s foolish to make that attempt. The problem is that you can only be in so many places at once, even digitally. The more you try to split your time between a higher number of locations, the less real time you’ll spend with any one of them. And people are, in a social setting, often judgy. You don’t want your audience to think you’re ignoring or snubbing them. 

If you want to lock down your brand in as many social platforms as possible, go ahead and do so. However, be sure that if you’re not going to spend time interacting with people on any of them that you are able to leave a post with a link to where you ARE more active, along with your website and/or contact information. And if you’re not going to be active there, don’t link to that profile from your website. 

Choose one or two (or maybe three at most) platforms where you want to actually spend time, and focus your efforts there. You will need to learn how people use those platforms, and what ways are best for you to join the interaction. What works on one will not work on another. Each social media platform is it’s own beast to be tamed. If you’re fortunate enough to have employees you trust deeply, or a budget to hire marketing assistance, you can outsource involvement on social media and cover a wider range of platforms. Just be sure that you’re aware of the overall picture and that you have ultimate control. (For example, don’t let an employee set up a Facebook business page that you don’t have the admin control of. This often ends badly.)

There’s no field of dreams.

Just because you built it doesn’t mean they will come. It will take some work to figure out what social media platforms work well with your type of business or organization. It will take some learning and experimenting to find out the best ways to interact with people on each platform. For example, a real estate company will find it’s much easier to get people to share their photos of lovely homes, than a cleaning company will find with it’s posts of cleaning supplies. You will have to be creative (or find those around you who are creative and can lend a hand)… don’t be discouraged if it takes some doing to find your niche. What works well for one business won’t necessarily work for another. 

Don’t be afraid to change direction.

Sometimes what seemed like a really good idea just isn’t going to end up working for you. Don’t be afraid to change direction, and shift your focus to where it will get better results. If you spent a lot of time on Twitter but are not getting any traction, then make sure you’ve got links and contact info in place and switch over to Facebook. Or wherever. The rule of thumb is to not be afraid to try it, jump in and see how it goes, and if it doesn’t work, move on to the next thing. Every effort is data to collect that will help you with an overall picture of how to be effective. (Do be sure that before you move on, you’ve done your best to understand what SHOULD work… and don’t mistake success not happening immediately and miraculously as it not being likely to happen at all.) 

Most business owners understand that networking is important, and that it always has been. Social media now allows people to do more of it and do it cheaper and faster. If you haven’t dipped your feet in the water yet, don’t wait. Come on in, the water’s fine!

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