We like to write about practical ways to market your small business online and social media marketing has become an integral way to do that. But we still get lots of questions about how all the hyperbole translates to real action on the ground.
We recently came across an article from BNet's Jeff Haden entitled "If a Tweet Falls in the Forest, Does It Make a Sound?" It's a worthwhile read about what you can really expect from Twitter, Facebook and social media in general. We wanted to share the article with you and add our commentary as well.
Social Media Marketing
You're not in the social media marketing business. You're in the wine business or the law business or the day care business. You're not in the business of Tweeting or Posting. Jeff claims that spending more than a few minutes a day is a waste of time. I would say it is and it isn't. While you're not in the social media business you can use social media to market - and grow - your business and that takes time.
I agree with his premise that "the key is to ensure the return you receive from social media marketing matches your investment in time and resources." Most small businesses fail in even identifying the time and resources they are investing. They take a shotgun approach. This will almost certainly be a waste of time. You go to your various channels, post something that may or may not be related to your overall marketing plan, get caught up in checking out what everyone else is posting and the next thing you know, you've just wasted two hours.
A better approach is having a strategy for what you want to share, what you want to have happen and how it supports your other marketing efforts. This will allow you to be focused when you begin posting. Being disciplined to avoid the social media vortex will also be key.
Social media is not your primary business so don't make it your business to be on social media all day. Use it to support your marketing strategy (but don't be afraid to have some fun too).
"If a Tweet Falls in the Forest..."
And what about Jeff claims that "...the vast majority of tweets fall in the forest without making a sound."? It's possible, and perhaps likely. But it doesn't have to be. If your social media marketing is being used to really communicate with your audience you move from becoming a faceless company to real people that other people want to connect with - and ultimately want to do business with. Social media can support your marketing efforts, client servicing and customer support efforts. It can help you build your brand and engage your audience. A genuine voice and real people to speak for your business will echo across your channel rather than falling silently on deaf ears.
So what's the bottom line? Spending a few hours to develop a social media marketing strategy that supports your overall marketing goals and your business model makes sense. Setting up tools and procedures to manage it all is a must. But it doesn't need to become a full-time job.