Social Media has become quite the darling of the new marketing world. Truth is, social media is an excellent way to connect with your current and potential customers (even in the B2B world). The problem is, many businesses can’t sift through what is social media hype and what is practical, usable advice for their business.
Early adopters flocked to it, blogged about it, tweeted it from their iPhones, updated, Buzzed and sung about it. Skeptics were not so convinced and wanted hard data and social media ‘experts’ recanted with fairy tales about saving businesses with absolutely no cost to your organization. Who do you believe? How do you participate, without wasting your valuable time?
What is social media hype?
Social media hype is the excitement when there is a new toy for social media lovers to play with. When something new comes out, they will blog about it and give you the story on why you NEED to be a part of this new online community, app or tool. It is easy to get wrapped up in social media hype but try to remember when the next social media tool comes out, they will recommend that as well and when another one comes out, they will recommend that too.
Do you have time to be on 40 social media sites and participate in 20 apps? I definitely don’t. There are major repercussions to spreading yourself too thin. It is better to be a part of 2 (or even 1) active community that respects your work and participates with your content than being a part of 20 networks that offer you no return.
Reality is when that excitement wears off and you find yourself using a tool to achieve your goals. A big part of figuring out what your social media reality will be is by determining what your actual goals are. Some social media goals could be more website traffic, increasing brand awareness, getting more qualified leads, assisting customer service, reputation management, increase attendance at live events, et al.
Social media is constantly changing. New tools and toys are always being created. Just because something is new doesn’t mean you need to be using it for your business. I recommend keeping a watchful eye on new tools and trends and test them but you should be choosing the right tools for the job, not the shiniest tool in the toolbox. What is going to help you achieve your goals that you can work into your already busy schedule?
What is driving you?
Are you driven by marketing your company, building relationships and being held accountable for what you are going to say? Or are you driven by being a social media star? Sounds like a silly question, but it isn’t. Many people seem more driven by the number of Twitter followers they have over the amount of qualified leads they are getting. If you are using social media as a business tool you should be tracking how your efforts are affecting your business and not how your social media efforts are affecting your social media profiles.
Will using social media help you achieve your marketing goals? Not your neighbor’s goals, your competitor’s goals or some national big brand’s goals but does it help with your businesses goals? Are you motivated by the same social media case studies we hear all the time – or are you driven by the results you are seeing for yourself?
Some suggestions for not drowning in social media hype
- If you feel like you are forcing it, you probably are. What were you doing before the dawn of social media and what made your company unique? Social media is just new tools to do the same things we were doing before. Learning new technology can be a bit tricky but the esscence of your social media landscape should be an extension on aspects of your business you were already doing.
- Listen to a few qualified business professionals. Instead of following all the social media mavens, choose a few that you trust and share common business goals with and let them guide you on trends that are worth trying out, like having an internet marketing travel agent.
- Forget the social media experts, find great businesses that know how to use social media. The world doesn’t need social media ‘experts’ as much as it needs real businesses using social media well. You will probably find more value in the practical use of social media over the suggestions from a social media expert who may just be regurgitating information they read in a book or blog. Just because someone declares themselves as a social media expert doesn’t mean they have any experience making actual successful business campaigns.
- Know what you are trying to achieve first. Have a business strategy for what you want to use social media for. Then decide the tools that will help you achieve those goals. The most basic elements of a strategy is figuring out where to play and how you are going to win. For business we rely heavily on LinkedIn for market research, keeping up with trends in our industry and building our online network. We use Twitter and Facebook to help get our content out and interact with our customers, experts and peers. Some smaller social media networks and new apps are being tested by individual staff members but we still haven’t integrated them into our company marketing because we don’t have a place for them yet and that is OK.
Social media is exciting. It does level the playing field for some small businesses. It can be a great lead generation and relationship building tool. How you use social media tools is up to you and your business. Try to spend more time using what works for your company and less time following the social media hype.