Earlier this week (week commencing July 23rd 2012) a blog appeared on the Guardian’s website which raised the question of whether a bad social media presence is better than no social media presence; this is a question which many businesses considering social media marketing will have considered time-and-time again without perhaps ever coming to a definitive answer.
Carefully reading the post on the Guardian’s website, the author raises some interesting points alongside some very valid points, including raising the issue which many businesses are facing in the tough economic climate of not having the time, money or resources to fully commit to running a social media campaign.
The comment which has stuck however, doesn’t involve the three areas mentioned above; but instead is related to the author’s analogy of a bad social media campaign being like a broken watch.
Whilst the broken watch doesn’t tell you the time, it does serve as a point of reference; at least twice a day it will inform the wearer of the exact time; and people talk about it.
A broken watch may well serve as a quirky conversational topic or an ice-breaker; but a poor social media campaign cannot be held in the same light; especially when every business is fighting to grab the audience’s attention; so can you really afford to either let the social media train pass on by, without even buying a ticket; or only take a short journey before ending up back at square one?
No Presence is Better than a Bad Presence:
Whether you’re searching LinkedIn, Youtube, Facebook or Twitter it won’t take long until you come across a profile which has stood alone and isolated for anywhere between a couple of months to a couple of years.
At first, you may not think anything of this, but consider it from a customer’s perspective; if a business is promoting either through their website, stationary or email footer that they have a presence on a particular social media platform then you would expect them to keep it updated on a regular basis.
Finding that the business has neglected their social media campaign is likely to set alarm bells ringing – and could also lead to the business the customer had, being offered to a competitor; especially on Twitter, which informs the user of similar Twitter users.
Going back to the Guardian blog briefly, the author highlights what are typically the three reasons a business’ social media presence becomes neglected – Time; Money; Resources – each valid reasons in essence; but each are also easily overcome, with careful planning and a clear goal in mind – as we highlight below.
What Do You Want to Achieve?
For any business – whether you’re considering joining the social media party for the first time; you’ve fallen foul of leaving your social media presence neglected; or you’re in the situation of reviewing the progress you’ve made so-far on social media; before you go any further you need to consider what you want to achieve.
Are you looking to increase awareness of your brand, services and / or products? Are you looking to create leads, which you can then convert into customers? Are you looking to engage with your current audience? Or are you looking to achieve a mixture of all the above?
Whichever it is, you need to have a clear (or semi-clear) idea of what you want to achieve by creating a social media presence – without a clear goal, it is easy to be led off the beaten path and into the social media wilderness, where your campaign continues to consume your time, money and resources without providing a return.
Once you’ve set your goal / you have an idea of what you want to achieve via your social media presence, you can begin to plan how you’re going to achieve the desired outcome with the Time, Money and Resource(s) you have available.
Benjamin Franklin once said that “time is money” – and in the business world today, spending the right amount of time concentrating on your social media presence can see you make, instead of lose money.
When we talk about time, we aren’t necessarily saying that you should spend a large proportion of your working day dedicated to posting status updates on Twitter, adding photos to Facebook or connecting with business associates on LinkedIn. Instead, by planning your time, as a business you will be able to see positive results from spending minimal time each week on your social media campaign.
As far as “time” is concerned it differs from business to business and what works for one business won’t necessarily work for another; however as a rule of thumb, we would recommend spending an hour or two, two to three times a week on your social media presence – this can include adding a new blog to your business website, providing a status update about offers or products you have available or joining in with group discussions on Facebook and LinkedIn.
The time you spend within social media, should be seen as time well spent and not time wasted, so consider what your target audience want to read and tailor your comments, updates and blogs to suit them – and don’t be afraid to be unique, quirky or opinionated, after all standing out from the crowd will get you noticed!
In the same way that the amount of time spent working on a social media campaign will vary from business to business, so will resources. But by taking advantage of the resources available to you – within your business – and those available to all social media users, you can see your campaign blossom and provide results.
The biggest resource any business has available to them is their staff. However, many businesses (for various reasons) aren’t taking advantage of this resource. Instead of encouraging social media usage within the business, it can often be frowned upon. But by having in place a carefully worded social media policy, you can use the biggest resource available to your business as a positive tool.
Other resources available include the social media platforms – which one(s) you use will a) depend on what you want to achieve and b) the platforms used by your audience; and tools which allow users to post updates to numerous platforms with one click of a button – although before signing up for this, it would be beneficial to read our previous blog: “Should You Sync Your Social Media Accounts”.
Creating a social media presence doesn’t require a single penny to be spent, and it can be done within a lunch-break if you don’t want to take time out of your work schedule.Along with being free to create a social media presence, it can also be free (other than time) to run the campaign – and this is a good place for all businesses to start; especially when building up a presence and audience on the platforms of choice.
For businesses looking to move their social media presence on to the next level, then costs may be incurred should they look towards Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn advertising.
But as with all elements of running a social media marketing campaign, the money spent can be controlled by the user and careful research, including targeting a specific audience, monitoring the campaign – and tweaking accordingly.