By Patricia Skinner
Have doubts about how useful social media can be to you?
Let’s get right to the main reasons why social media may not be right for you personally:
- You hate publicity
- You have something terrible to hide
- You are too busy being a star to bother with networking
- You’re less than ten year’s old or over 100
- You already have too many customers
- You’re dead
Seriously, there are very few situations where a social media profile will not be of some use in your business or private life.
Pushed for time?
Social media can be very time-consuming and this makes some people hesitant to get involved: hey we all have very limited time resources. But the truth is that more and more social media channels are churning out mobile options to make things as easy as possible for users and service companies are getting onto social media in an effort to better serve their clientele. City Search is just one example of this move to mobility and social media. Twitter, Plurk, Facebook and many other sites have had mobile options for some time now.
While there can hardly be a teenager in the universe who doesn’t consider social media a vital part of life, there is still an element of the rest of us that resists the move to online socializing. While you may resist it, you probably won’t be able to stay out of it forever, so perhaps it’s better to get in there now.
Networking for everyone
After ‘create a business plan’ most business coaches next advise entrepreneurs to network, network, network. Everywhere we look in business, marketing and branding resources we see that the advice to network figures pretty highly. Social media provides a medium where you can network to your heart’s content from wherever you want and at no cost or inconvenience.
Because social media has received such a huge amount of buzz recently, as it continues to grow exponentially like some out-of-control virus, perhaps too many companies feel that they simply have to join everyone else on FaceBook, Twitter and MySpace (to name a few). You can read more about the results of this conundrum in an SEOmoz article on Social Media by Rebecca.
Both Brian and The Office taught me (in both a pointed and comical way) that before diving into something as time-consuming as social media, you need to ask yourself the following questions:
- What goals are you trying to accomplish by engaging in social media marketing?
- Is this a top priority, or are there other, more important things I need to take care of first? (There’s no point in having 30 social media profiles if they point to an ugly, poorly SEO’d, horribly converting website.)
- Is social media appropriate for your business?
While I agree with her that a social media strategy should be planned, I’m not sure that there are many people for whom Social Media may not be the right choice at all.
There’s no doubt that it takes time and energy to use social media well. A good plan might look like this:
- Do some research and decide which social media sites would best suit your interests
- Learn how to use social media so that you benefit and other users don’t get ticked off
- Spend some initial time making friends and connecting
- Set aside regular time to keep up with your contacts and contribute meaningfully
- Remember that it’s all about making relationships: without this you won’t succeed in social media.
Depending on how many social media sites you subscribe to and how many individuals you interact with, your social media activities might take anywhere from 10 minutes a day to several hours.
Admittedly this kind of commitment is not for everyone. However, there are circumstances when it can pay off handsomely. Businesses have considerably increased their bottom line for example, from the traffic that can be produced by a power user on Digg. Stumbleupon is renowned for it’s fabulous ability to drive traffic: many servers have been shut down by traffic surges coming their way from Stumblers alone.
Social media can:
- Help establish your brand
- Help you decide on a direction for your business
- Create trust and credibility
- Spread the word about your products (no cost marketing)
- Facilitate joint ventures and other entrepreneurial opportunities
Not all social media sites demand the same level of commitment from members. FaceBook is very time consuming, especially with their multitude of applications which, to some might be very annoying. Twitter, at the other end of the scale, can quietly run in the background on your desktop, if you use one of the great Twitter applications that allows you interact through a small window instead of a web page.
Some social media venues are more formal than others. LinkedIn, despite recent efforts to change its modus operandi so that it more closely resembles other, more popular sites, remains the site that you’ll go to if you’re solely interested in a business application and don’t want to get into the social side of things.
Quick and dirty social media solutions
If you really don’t want to commit to social media in any way, you can probably benefit from everyone else’s time commitment by taking out
But even a small-scale involvement in social media of say five-ten minutes a day can be of benefit to your brand and your bottom line. As with all things, when it comes to social media moderation is probably best.