Originally posted on AMA Baltimore‘s blog, The Big Three: Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter – Are These for My Company?
If you haven’t dipped your toes into the social media waters, it can be overwhelming at first. Confusing or frightening, to say the least. You shouldn’t create a Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter presence just because “everyone else is doing it.” That’s not going to cut it nor is it going to be of value.
Before you dive into the deep end and worry about drowning in social media, do yourself a favor (yes, you can thank me later) and answer the following questions:
- What are we trying to achieve through our social media activity?
- How do we measure our goals?
- Who is our audience?
- Have we started listening yet?
If you can’t answer these questions, that’s fine but don’t start devoting a great deal of your time to social media activities until you can clearly articulate a response to these four questions. Between Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, there are hundreds of millions of users that spend time each day on these social networks. Therefore you may think this is the best way to reach your audience. But, do you really understand who your audience is? It’s going to take more than just an afternoon to research who your customers are yet it will be well worth your time.
Have you clearly thought through your social media strategy? R2integrated, a local digital marketing and technology firm showcases “how not to social network” in a cartoon video that they created. With social media, it’s important to take a step back before you can move forward. You still need to apply basic marketing principles when participating in social media. It’s not just about a shotgun approach – well, I need to have lots of followers and people should download my app to buy my products. That’s not the way it works.
Each platform has their benefits and serves a purpose but most importantly, do those align with your company values? Facebook has the largest customer base and is ideal for interaction and sharing media. But, are your customer’s spending time on Facebook? If not, then you’re not using an appropriate vehicle to reach your audience. Twitter is great for sharing updates and links but does your audience know what a hashtag is? And, LinkedIn enables professionals all across the world to connect with one another but are your customers 12-15 year old teenage girls? Your messaging can be dead on but your target will never hear it if you’re not playing in the right arena.
You might think I’m beating a dead horse but it’s so important to consider these ideas before delving into social media. Once you figure out whether or not social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter (or the hundreds of other social media sites that exist) are appropriate for your purpose, make sure you approach social media like you would a cocktail party. For more insights, read Tracy Gold‘s post, 10 Steps to Pick-Up a Social Media Audience where she outlines similarities to picking up your social media audience and interacting at the bar. Secondly, remember that you need to be yourself and show a genuine interest in the folks who you’re talking to. If you don’t believe me, check out Dan Zarella‘s blog post, 5 Scientifically Proven Ways to Get More Followers.
If you walk away from this article, at the bare minimum make sure you don’t forget the following point. Have a purpose. Would you go to the grocery store just for the sake of going? Chances are you’d probably be shopping for tomorrow’s big dinner, Uncle Tommy’s birthday celebration, or food for your cat, Spots. The same applies to the world of social media. There has to be a purpose.
With today’s new media tools don’t get too wrapped up in your number of followers. It’s far more important to have 250 genuine followers, who are actual customers than 2,500 non-genuine followers. Be patient and realize that building relationships take time, as noted in YFS Magazine‘s post about Fake Followers.
Hope this post made you think a little bit more about the reasons specific to YOU for participating in social media – cheers to being genuine and providing value to your audience!