Using social media

Every man and their dog seem to feel they need to be tweeting, and doing Pinterest and Facebook, as well as numerous other “social media” stuff to have a thriving business. A lot of start up’s seem to believe that doing social media will result in universal appeal and instant success. Somewhere between that fallacy and doing nothing is probably the area most businesses need to be investing in social media. So what is social media anyway?

Social media is simply exchanging information and ideas through virtual communities and networks. The attractions are the immediacy of it, being able to post or communicate instantly, as well as the sheer reach of it, you can literally speak to the world! The large social media sites are things like blogs (notably Blogger and WordPress), Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and B2B sites like linked-in. Along with sites like YouTube, Instagram and Flickr there are numerous ways to get involved in social media.

But just doing social media is not a panacea for not having a business strategy or an integrated marketing programme. It would be a bit like a victorian entrepreneur buying an empty shop and waiting for customers. It’s not the shop itself that generates success, rather it is what is inside the shop and the service provided with it. For a business you need to know what you are trying to achieve and some way of measuring it, this guide provides some thoughts on how to evaluate your social media strategy.

It’s a good approach to be a bit pragmatic about what social media is going to do for your business. The reality is that there huge number of companies broadcasting, with some companies investing a huge amount of time and money into it, and few really effective interactive success stories. Take a long term view and don’t think you can suddenly just get on social media and achieve results. The phrase that “content is king” holds true but at the same time remember that this is about communicating, as much listening and responding as telling the world about how great you are and assorted trivia. You need to find your “voice” and add value, not just create marketing promotions. You need to be prepared for conversations, which can be not inconsiderable in resources and time to deal with.

While social media seems “free” it soon becomes clear that without a strategy and the investment of time and resources you are not going to achieve anything. So adopt the approach you would for any other part of your business, what am I trying to do, in what timescales, at what cost for what return? There are success stories and the reach of social media can dwarf what a traditional marketing budget could achieve, but you do need to be smart with what you do and how you do it. So unless you are Eminem and don’t bother with social media, go out and get involved. In fact why not comment on this article and get started on your social media journey.

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