I was asked to do a presentation on social media last week and was thanked by attendees for not making them hyperventilate. The hype about social media seems never ending. I thought I would share a few of my thoughts:
- Take social media slowly. Jump in, but spend time watching what others are doing and observe how they are using social networks. This will help you develop a plan. What will work best for your lifestyle? What networks do you like? Which networks are used by your target audience? Social networks are here to stay, but no need to panic. My advice: No need to build a Facebook fan page. How many fan pages have you visited more than once?
- Don’t neglect things that work. A downside of social networks is that they are open, and you don’t own them. If you sell pizza and offer great deals through Twitter and build a great following, the pizza joint down the street can easily friend every one of your followers and offer them a better deal. Building and maintaining your own house list should still be your priority. It remains to be seen which social networks will last, but if you are cultivating your email list you need not worry.
- “Social media is not an event but a process.” It is not something to tackle and cross off your list and never touch again. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other networks are places to have conversations and create dialogues. If all you are doing is “screaming” and not conversing, then you are missing the boat. If you are heavily promoting your Twitter handle but your three tweets were written a couple of months ago and the most meaningful tweet was about finding an old tuna sandwich in the back of the fridge, you are not building your brand. Don’t promote it until you have figured out what you are trying to accomplish and have some traction.
- Social media can be useful without it being a marketing tool. Twitter and LinkedIn are great places to do research, network, learn and do competitive intelligence. Twitter is an awesome tool for seeing what is going on and dialoguing with people you would not be able to reach any other way. I have yet to use it to market my business and have no plans to promote my Twitter handle (but I won’t make it hard for you to find me @jefferyjames.)
So there you have it. Social media advice without the hype. What do you think? Is my advice on the mark, or am I missing something? Let me know.