The Joneses. Those jerks. They went and did it again. First they had a website so you had to have one. Now they have a Facebook and Twitter account. What the Facebook?! Everyone is saying “if you want a successful online business presence you just have to get a social media following. Is it true? Is it hype? Is it just another fly by night technology? The last thing anyone wants to do is invest time and money in a technology that is going to peak out before there is return. Remember laser discs? Remember the beta vcr? What about the car phone?
The answer is…….maybe. Maybe it’s a good investment of your time and effort. Let’s start off by discussing the point of doing it at all.
Engaging People: Facebook, Twitter, and the other Social Media cronies are meant to bring people together. To create community. It is not meant as a one way conversation vehicle. There are other things that already are established for that like RSS feeds, print media, and websites without comments enabled. That isn’t to say that it isn’t a good way to get the word out about event dates and media links and other announcements, because it is, but it’s unique purpose is to then allow concisely organized feedback from folks with all kinds of degrees of separation.
The Online Media Type Food Chain: The other point of social media is to ultimately drive people back to your website (or to your physical business). To either generate traffic, or customers, or both. If you have a blog it’s to tell people there is something new on it, if you are having a sale it’s to inspire people to go to it, etc. Everything ultimately goes back to your website and your business. Social Media is just another kind of cuisine for those things to consume. Which leads me to the next large bucket of discussion: what to consider when deciding of social media is a good thing for you.
Is It A Match, Will There Be Return For Me?
What is your realistic commitment: The only thing worse than not having a social media presence (which isn’t to say that this is necessarily bad) is to have a dormant or dead social media presence. You need to be able to post something with regularity. I don’t mean every day. However, once a week at least.
What is your industry content: It doesn’t need to be daunting. Don’t have anything new to report? No big deal. If you don’t have time to write or don’t have any current initiatives, you probably are still reading. Share a link to an article you find valuable. Start the post of with a sentence or two about how you feel and think about that article. Engage community activity on your social media page. This will continue the engagement and recruitment process until you do have something to share that is aimed at a business return.
Can you spread the love: Can you distribute the load among employees? It doesn’t have to be all on one person. In fact, engaging your employees to all do maybe a once a month posting so that it’s not a big burden to anyone not only increases your followers instantly, but gives you reach to all of their friends and followers.
Can you do something something periodically to reward folks who follow you: A $5 off that only your facebook likers know about, a regular industry tip or disclosure that your twitter followers know only they have been made privy to….. everyone likes a cookie and to feel exclusive. If you can make them, if they are relevant to your business, little gestures that your social media peeps know aren’t being given to folks on any other form of communication are a great inspiration to grow your social media community and in turn spread the word further when you have return generation announcements.
OK So I Identify With Some of This Stuff, Now What?
The next step is simply to make your page or account on that service. Make sure that you follow the instructions for setting up whatever they intend for businesses, NOT INDIVIDUALS (unless they don’t differentiate). If you already have an individual Facebook account you can add a fan page. If you find any of this confusing or want guidance we are happy to help you, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember to put either a feed or iconic link on your website. It’s very important that your various online presences not be in silos.
If you don’t identify with the considerations above then no worries, stop worrying about the Joneses and just spend your time on activities that work for the culture of YOUR business.