Social Media: Use it or Lose it

Chances are that six to twelve months ago you “gave in” and added a LinkedIn profile/Facebook page/Yelp entry. You thought it would be good for your business and everyone had been telling you that you “must do it.” At the time it felt a little like the middle school, “to be cool” group mentality, but Hey! What could it hurt? Maybe you kicked it around a little. Had some fun watching your fans go from two to twenty in a week. Some old college buddies even found your profile and connected to you.

And then the honeymoon was over. Now what? I have to wake up every morning with this page staring at me and wondering when I’m going to update it? Cripes, it’s not like real life isn’t keeping you busy enough—now there’s this albatross hanging around your neck. Maybe if you just ignore it . . .

This week I’m telling you to use it or lose it. Seriously. The first mistake you made was starting something that you did not entirely buy into. Don’t begin a social media campaign unless you are fully informed and willing to commit to it.

The second mistake was believing that all social media outlets are equal. They are not and, just like the Grail Knight said, you must “choose wisely.” My wife is in charge of her group’s Facebook page and updates it every few days, but she won’t touch Twitter. That’s not to say that they don’t have a presence there—it’s just that someone else in the group handles that outlet.

This leads to the third mistake: don’t take it all on yourself. If you’re busy with operations or cold calling or the financial reports, assign the social media campaigns to someone who finds it fun and is always thinking of the next post.

If this has convinced you that social media is not valuable to your business right now, then go remove your page. Allowing it to remain static and untouched for six months makes your company look stale and lazy. If you haven’t updated your LinkedIn profile through two jobs and four volunteer positions, it is a clear sign that you don’t pay particular attention to detail.

Conversations are market opportunitiesHowever, if you’re ready to engage the public, attract customers, and receive attention, then USE IT. Here are five easy ways to get your social media groove back:

  1. Schedule your updates. Maybe it’s Monday morning or Friday afternoon. Whatever works for you, put a standing appointment in your calendar and do it weekly. There are many tools out there as well, like SocialOomph or HootSuite that allows you to schedule a several updates all at once and tell the program when to release/post them. I schedule my Twitter Chatter a month in advance and let WordPress do the rest.
  2. Offer coupons. We found our vet on Yelp when he offered a 15% new customer coupon on the site. After reading several outstanding reviews from other pet owners, we made an appointment and love our choice. Along these lines, consider offering your current loyal customers an incentive to write a positive review for you. If you Twitter, offer your followers a weekly special for those paying attention.
  3. Check back and follow up. Social media is about conversations. Gone are the days of static advertising AT the consumers. If someone makes a comment on your page, be sure to respond to it. A few months ago, we were looking for a good brunch restaurant and selected one from Yelp for a single reason: the owner responded to EVERY review—including the mediocre and negative ones! We thought that it showed an incredible commitment to his customers and that was enough to convince us.
  4. Blog. Go ahead—chat away. Talk about new products coming out, your latest conference, the recent industry article that has everyone buzzing. Share your opinions, expertise, and insights. Enable the comments section (see #3).
  5. Create contests. Be creative and engage the competitive spirit of your fans. Launch photo contests, video contests, tweet contests, and more! The 100th fan on Facebook wins a ____. Design our new logo and you will win _____. Not only will you get more brand awareness, but you’ll build a greater fan base and end up with new content.

Finally, be sure to measure your results. Did your website traffic increase during the campaign? Did you make new contacts? Was your ROI worth the time and effort spent? Don’t just throw spitballs on the wall and wait for one to stick—be thoughtful and precise in your efforts.

Get out there and Just Use It!

Six Media Mentors You Should Know

We’ve all been around the technology block long enough to see things come and go. Remember Beta tapes? The floppy disk?

So it’s no wonder that we cast a suspicious eye to social networking. Sure, all the kids are doing it these days, but they change their tastes before you can say “Abercrombie and Fitch.” What practical application does it have for adults? For the business person? We ponder the age-old question: what can it do for _me_?

Enter Janet Fouts, a senior partner at Tatu Digital Media in Silicon Valley, and a Social Media enabler (her words—not mine). Janet was doing research for her book, Social Media Success and she asked what people really wanted to learn. It seemed that they all had pretty much the same questions. She then set to work to assemble a team of independent mentors who will help fine tune your marketing and online strategies so that you will know, at the end of the day, what social media can do for you.

Meet them.