I get it! I’ve heard quite a bit recently from clients and colleagues about the inordinate time it takes to work the social media scene. I’m not denying it.
These are also the same folks who are desirous of growing their businesses.
Now I find this curious: If you want to grow your business and you’re provided with a tool to do so, then why not give it a try?
Yes, yes, I know! You don’t have the time and it’s too difficult. (And let’s not get into the Prove it! mode yet.)
Really? No time and too hard.
Does that sound like anything else in life? (As in >> ALL OF IT!)
The Real Problem with Diving into Social Media
I have a confession to make: I find social media frustrating, antagonizing, technically challenging and chaotic too. I’ve spent the better part of the past few years trying to learn as much as I can about the various platforms. (I’m still holding off jumping onto Google+ while I’m still trying to conquer Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.)
I remain convinced these platforms are the wave of the future (and now) for reaching the widest possible target market. Your customers are here. Why wouldn’t you want to be where you can control and participate in the discussion of your brand, your products and services?
The real problem with social media isn’t the lack of time to work on it. We all have challenges squeezing in projects and tasks we want and/or need to do. We know we make time for the most important ones whether or not they’re online.
Make the time.
The real problem with social media isn’t the technical difficulty. Most of us have been challenged for years to learn new software programs. And just as soon as we think we’re getting it, they ‘upgrade’ the program, sending us all back down the learning chute to begin again.
But we’ve gotten better at it. And programmers have steadily improved to make functions and commands more intuitive in software. As frustrating as learning new systems may be, we keep at it.
The real problem with social media is how we feel doing it. Because it does take more time out of our day, because it can be a bit challenging to get the hang of new features in Facebook (Timeline for business pages, anyone?) or in LinkedIn, we are uncomfortable with the extra time it takes to use it and its lack of familiarity.
We don’t like being uncomfortable.
We like it when everything is under control and easy to understand. We like it when we know exactly how much time it takes to complete a task.
How to use military precision to get your social media efforts under control and producing results
When I observe colleagues and clients who vent frustration over various social media platforms I often see the source: They are flailing about on the site without direction, a strategy and get lost in navigation. And I mean this physically. Due to a lack of understanding how the pages, tabs and buttons are organized, time is wasted zinging the mouse around the screen like a wayward pinball bouncing around in a game.
You will feel much better about your social media efforts if you first define your:
- Goals and objectives;
- Strategy to achieve them; and
- Metrics or (how to) measure your success at achieving those goals.
- I want to reach a wider audience with my products and services.
- I need to educate my customers and prospects about the nuances of my services.
- I want to build and maintain strong, loyal relationships with my customer base.
- I want to sell my products to a wider audience.
Notice that I left making sales as the last goal in the list. You don’t have to make any or all of these items as your goals. And if your primary goal in using social media is to sell product, you will have a very hard time. Users respond poorly to having products pushed upon them on these platforms.
(This isn’t to say it isn’t possible. It’s just that making sales on social media platforms is far more about the end result after conducting the lengthy process of building visibility, credibility and a loyal relationship to naturally culminate in a sale.)
Stick to a Military Time Schedule
Now that you know what you’d like to accomplish on one or many social media sites with your business, don’t you feel a bit better? That’s one dilemma you can cross off your list for the day!
Next, you must discipline yourself to working on social media tasks during limited time periods. By doing so, you will achieve a great sense of accomplishment. If you continue to float around the site checking out random links, you’ll end up like Alice down that rabbit hole. (And then you’ll really be mad at yourself for not maintaining control!)
It is true that setting up your Facebook page, Twitter account, or completing the endless professional profile on LinkedIn can be extraordinarily time-consuming. Nevertheless, for the setup portion, I cannot urge you strongly enough to set an egg timer for whatever amount you wish to devote to this task and then quit when it goes off. Return to complete the task another day for another set period of time.
Why am I so adamant on this point? This has been my big mistake. I’ve sworn to spend only 15 minutes on a task only to look up 2 hours later! Chunk it down into usable periods of time each day.
Set a Routine
Once your page or account is up and running with necessary fields filled in, it’s time to set days and times for separate social media tasks such as:
- 9:00 am – 15 minutes – Check for top stories. Read 2 only!
- 10:30 am – 20 minutes – Post 1 business update, post 1 link to another blog post/article, Share a fun, cool photo or community info.
- 1:30 pm – 20 minutes – Post a quotation of the day and how it relates to current activities; respond to any comments, Likes, questions from customers or colleagues.
- 4:30 pm – 10 minutes – Thank all commenters, influencers or promoters for their contributions.
- Add 2 new skills per week
- Connect with 3 (or 6?) new people every week
- Post an update 1-2x per week
- Revise your profile 1x per month
- Comment on a discussion topic 2x per week
- Search for new discussion groups 2x per month
- Search for and reply in discussions where you can help
- 1-2x per month promote your own product or service (10% of total time in updates or discussions)
- Post links to useful articles and other posts 1-2x per week (3rd party)
- Post a link to your own newsletter, blog or other new content 1x week
These are merely suggestions. Do not attempt to add them all in at one time. Work up to regularly performing one task consistently before you begin adding in others in your list. Avoid overwhelming yourself at all costs!
Social Media Best Practices for you!
One of the most common things to find on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn is an un-updated business page. Perhaps the last update was 4 months ago (or 4 years!) What does this tell your prospects?
- You’re scatterbrained in your business efforts.
- You’re unorganized.
- You’re forgetful as you left this out-of-date profile dangling in public view for all to see.
- You don’t have a plan.
Well, that’s enough negativity for today. You can see how detrimental these perceptions by prospective clients may be.
The best practice for you, Friend, is to go slowly. There’s no need to jump in commenting all over creation just to be visible on the platform. You must find the right amount of time and rhythm that works best for you.
To show off your professionalism, skills and execute your objectives on each site (which you want to tackle ONE AT A TIME!), take the time to simply observe the conversations going on around you.
- Instead of writing a political commentary on the state of the state primaries on a friend’s Wall (aka Facebook Timeline), observe if this is common practice on this page or is seemingly taboo.
- Ask page owners about their policies for commenting before you chime in.
- Polite, gracious etiquette is KEY to success on the social media platforms.
- Help others first before blasting out about your offerings.
I rewrote this post nearly four times this week. I have a zillion things to say on this topic since I see so many of my clients, colleagues and friends struggle to find the right balance of social media tools and to maintain their own sanity while doing so.
I struggle to find the right words of encouragement to coax those of you not yet on these platforms out into the light. (Remember “Pleasantville”?”
The only wrong way to do social media is not to try it at all. The opportunities here are endless – not only for your business but also for professional and personal growth as well.
I’ll be rolling out a number of posts on the various platforms to give you strategies, templates and inspiration over the next several months. Facebook alone is headed into massive upgrades for business pages, Premium ads and other features for which you don’t want to be left behind.
I’ve begun posting to my blog far more frequently than just in this weekly newsletter. I find it easier to post short ideas and announcements there rather than bundle a suite of related ideas into one long newsletter (like this one). I highly recommend you check it out from time to time for quick tips and suggestions for making your business more visible to the public.
This week in Print Isn’t Dead!, I highlight the completion of a new brochure for a client along with other artwork.
How about you? What is your greatest frustration about your social media endeavors? What would you like help with? I’m here to lend a hand. Comment.