Social media should only be a part of your Internet business model if you plan on working it
Every company should have a social media plan, but not every company needs to use social media. The “plan” part of this is to simply determine if using sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn would be beneficial to your company. If you can’t come up with a solid plan, or are simply looking for the ways to make everything “easy”, then you shouldn’t be using social media.
Consider this scenario:
Everyone is telling you to start sending out 8.5″ x 5.5″ postcards for all of your events. You don’t think postcards work, even though you’ve never tried them before. However, since everyone is telling you to do it, you go ahead and try it.
Since you really don’t stand behind the method itself, based on your personal opinions, you do the bare minimum. You choose a cheap printer with the cheapest paper and you hire a high-school student to do the design. You don’t want to invest in something you don’t think will work.
The postcard clearly comes out as though you’ve put no effort into it. Your customers see this and are turned away by your lack of professionalism and pride in the postcard you sent out.
After the postcard has been out for about two weeks to a month, you see no increase in event sales and dismiss everyone’s successes of the postcard. You continue using your old tried and true tactics.
Now try applying it to social media:
Everyone is telling you to use social media. You don’t see why anyone should be spending time on a social network when they’re supposed to be cold-calling and sending email newsletters.
You’ve seen your competitors increase sales, increase email subscriptions and get written up for their creative uses of Twitter in several different online blogs. They’re building backlinks, their email list is growing and they see the long-tail of building their audience with social media.
You don’t believe the hype, but you’re willing to give 10 minutes a day to the medium. You set up an RSS feed that streams to both Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Every time you post a blog, it posts to all of these networks. There’s no effort on your part, so you’re not losing money.
You promote your new social media profiles to your existing user base and get a few hundred or thousand followers. The numbers settle, start to die down, and you dismiss social media all together.
In reality, it didn’t grow your user base because you weren’t reaching out to a new audience. Instead, you were relying on people who are already on your email lists and you’re turning off this new audience by not playing by the rules and netiquette of the social media community.
You get back what you put into it
As with any type of marketing method you use, you are going to get back exactly what you put into it. If you don’t monitor you social media accounts for community feedback and questions, you’re not using social media.
Remember, if people want to subscribe to your RSS feed, they will. By using social media to talk rather than listen, you’re not using it to build a new audience, you’re using it to talk to your existing audience. If your argument is that using an RSS feed on Twitter works for you, then imagine how much better it would work if you used the platform for what it’s meant to be used for: conversation.
Anyone in your industry can post blogs on the same thing you’re posting about. What makes you different? Why should someone follow you instead of them?
Compare OKMagazine on Twitter (50k followers) to USWeekly on Twitter (286k followers). Same exact type of publication, with the same content, except that USWeekly posts pictures when they’re at red carpet events, they re-write headlines to be more engaging, they respond to questions that people ask and they use the @ whenever they’re referring to a celebrity that’s on Twitter.
This is the platform to grow and be different. If distinguishing yourself isn’t part of your business model, then social media shouldn’t be either.