A card dropped through my letterbox this week from a cab company. On it were the logos of YouTube, Google Plus, WordPress, twitter, LinkedIn and facebook. I felt compelled to go and check them out. What on earth would a cab company do on all those channels?
My sceptical assumptions proved right. Their posts were random, promotional messages with month long gaps between most of them. And this perfectly illustrates a common misconception – that you HAVE to do social media.
I totally disagree! You can’t afford to ignore social media as part of your marketing communications, but only do what’s relevant. Don’t set up profiles on every one, just so that you can ‘tick the box’ and say that you’ve done it. Not only is it pointless, it will take valuable time (even to do it badly!) and will make you feel guilty if you’re not updating it.
In a similar vein, I recently received a request to feature a guest blog. Steve has been advised by an SEO expert to write guest blogs on other people’s sites in order to get links back to his own site. With his permission (thanks Steve), I agree to publish it on the proviso that I could add an introduction, stating that I believe his approach is not one I would advocate. His article also includes some statements that I disagree with. But because it provoked an interesting discussion between us, I thought it was worth sharing …
The Social Media Maze
by Steve Dark, Quick Intelligence
Back before I set up my own business social media was simple. I used Facebook to keep a vague eye on births deaths and marriages, and LinkedIn as a colleague and I had a spare afternoon to play about with it. Simple, enjoyable and serving a purpose – of sorts. However, now as a business owner social media has taken a new twist. It is not just for fun, it is I am told crucial to the success of my business. No pressure then.
So, how do you decide where to put you efforts with social media, and how do you know when you have it right?
Soon after I had set up on my own (in the ‘oh my, what now’ phase) I attended a seminar on the use of Facebook and Twitter for business. Talking to others over coffee and Danishes there was a common reason for delegates to attend – because we were all thinking ‘what, really?’. The seminar pointed out that these
things were an essential part of a modern businesses marketing strategy. I therefore started on my social media journey.
I already had a website and a company Twitter account, and over the following three years I have added a LinkedIn company page, YouTube channel, Google+, Google Local, Facebook Business page, AboutUs listing, Klout and a couple of industry specific sites. All of these things are now out there as public records
of what my company is and our ability to interact with the modern media. Again, no pressure then.
To give a bit of background to my business, we are a business intelligence consultancy with all full time staff being fee earning consultants. Accounting and website / SEO support is bought in on an as needed basis. I am still the major fee earner – mostly spending full days on client sites. In short, if I am not with a client doing client work the income of the business is impacted. I would imagine this is true of the majority of small business owners. So, where is the space for social media?
I find that on the train is the ideal time for Tweeting and writing my blog. Keeping up with the other social media outlets is then an evening and weekend task. This can mean that things like my Facebook business page can be a little unloved. Certainly my number of likes is lower than I would like and updates are spurious at best.
This is then where the big question that I have comes up. Is it better to tick all the boxes and be on each new social media site as it arrives – or is it more important to ensure each outlet that is engaged with is tended frequently with fresh content? My SEO guy tells me that links, exposure and traffic from each site is of great benefit – but the perfectionist in me would prefer only to see brilliantly executed interactions with these media. Not something that is possible with the number of sites and amount of time available.
What to do then? For me, it seems the best social media investment I make is in my own blog – so effort goes in there. With other sites I intend to keep them ticking over. It is something I have considered outsourcing – but the challenge then would be keeping it real when it is not me updating the content.
As this blog post itself sits in the sphere of social media, I would be very keen to hear your thoughts on this, and what challenges your business faces with social media. Please leave a comment.
Steve Dark is owner of Quick Intelligence, a business intelligence and data
visualisation consultant and QlikView expert.
A note from Jane:
Let me say it again, you don’t HAVE to do social media, write blogs or get links back to your site in order to succeed in business. What you DO need is a well thought out marketing plan, that is focused on your customers. Who are they, where are they, how are they likely to find you? If the answer is social media, then by all means go ahead, but choose appropriate solutions for your target market. Find ways to engage with your customers, not just push promotional messages at them. And most importantly, have an objective for each channel.