I led a round table yesterday on social media for a bunch of hipsters in Wynwood, the arts district of Miami. One very sensible question came up several times, “how much effort should I put into my social media efforts if I don’t have a large community already?”
That’s a great question, after all, every company finds itself in the early stages of building social media communities at one point. And it’s an investment, in time as well as in money, to keep fresh content and activity flowing on all the various social platforms (see prior post for most of them). So this post is for all the businesses that are just deciding to invest resources in social media. Here are 5 candid and actionable tips from the trenches:
- You can’t do everything, so don’t try. Determine where you are going to get the most bang for your buck in time and money. Realistically look at your resources, and decide how you’re going to spend them. Be sure to underestimate your resources by 20% and over-estimate how much everything costs by 20%. Recommendation: pick 2 Platforms and use them well.
- Set metrics for social media before you start spending a great deal of time on it. What are you looking for out of social media? You want to drive traffic to your website? To build fan base in your neighborhood? You want to have people come in to your restaurant? Figure out the relevant metrics and set numeric goals (along a timeline) BEFORE you start investing. And then make sure you measure your progress with hard numbers.
- Attention needs to be split between GROWING your community and SERVICING it. You don’t need to be pushing out 3 posts or 5 tweets per day to 50 people. You need to be out there building relationships and engaging other influencers and communities to they pay attention to you. But at the same time, you can’t stop adding value to your people. It’s a balance. The major tool here is your common sense–and your major goa should be to maximize the impact of your efforts.
- Start a Blog. To build long-term value, you need a permanent home for all the content you’re creating and finding. Use WordPress, Tumbler, or Posterous and set one up, if you haven’t. All other social platforms will be help you drive traffic to content you create (which will live on your blog). If you’re working hard on Facebook or Twitter, but you don’t have a blog, seriously consider setting one up.
- Tools and time-saving processes will help you manage your time. The most basic and necessary tool out there is Hootsuite. The basic product is free, and it will both decrease your time on social media and make you more effective. The biggest time-savig trick I can share is to do your social media just twice/day. In the morning and the late afternoon. Limit your activities to 15 minutes each, and you will receive 90% of the benefits of social media, with 75% reduction in time spent.
Social Media can easily turn into a full-time job, which is untenable for most small businesses. You need to be focusing on providing the highest quality service or product, not spending excess time on Facebook, trying to win Likes and write content haphazardly. At the same time, you can’t afford NOT to have a presence on these networks, growing your community, influence, and understanding of them because everyone you know is using them. So you have to be strategic. Good luck guys.