Making time to be Social

By: 15th November 2013 Social Media No Comments

There is only so much time in the day. On top of other work that needs to get done, more and more organizations are realizing the potential and necessity of social media marketing as a form of external communication, and they need someone to do it. This can seem like a daunting task, especially for smaller businesses with few resources. However, these businesses actually have an advantage of being both agile and personable. This particular blog post will provide tips for those types of organizations and focuses on the importance of making the time to be social.

In the not too distant past, most employers frowned upon their staff visiting social media sites during their time at work, and while this can hold true for personal use, many companies now use these same social networks as tools for their business. Whether it’s managing your brand’s Facebook page, promoting a campaign #hashtag on Twitter, or writing a blog post for your company’s website (this is getting very meta…), it takes time to execute all of these communications. You can’t simply push out your content and call it a day, you have to then engage in the ensuing two-way conversations and grow those connections that come as a result. All of this sounds like a lot of work if you want to do it right, but the first step in being able to manage it is simply removing the option to do these things, and instead, defining this type of work a mandatory for your business.

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Marcus Sheridan bluntly makes this case in a quick 2-minute point in the video below. Most companies never give a second thought to historically established mandatories like payroll, for example, where “it’s just like breathing” for a business. This is something that is automatically “just done” (for obvious reasons), whereas creating social content is optional – usually having an associated “maybe I’ll get to it” mentality. It’s simply not yet obvious to a lot of businesses just how much low-hanging fruit is out there for them to pick, if only they add being social to their “must do” operational requirements. But the truth is that if you’re hoping to find time, you probably wont – you need to make time and set that aside to focus on this aspect of your business. It’s an investment, and you have to believe in the value of doing it, and then must prove it through action. Don’t think of it as a chore, think of it as an opportunity. For example, if you operate a blue-collar-type organization that you feel may not get any benefit from being social, your competitors probably have the same outlook. That is where the real opportunity is, and where exceptional organizations can excel.

VIDEO: Marcus Sheridan “I Don’t Have the Time to Blog!! And what to do about it…”

Make Social a Priority Within Your Business

Another reason that newcomers to social media marketing sometimes struggle is not because of laziness or lack of aspiration, but rather, simply not understanding what tasks should be a priority in their day. Not prioritizing time and efforts often results in companies either over-selling themselves, or worse, not doing anything and letting their social channels become stagnant. It’s all about finding that sweet spot between over-sharing content and becoming annoying or irrelevant, and not being involved in the conversation at all. So what are some priorities you should set for your company’s social media marketing?

First – your daily goal (emphasis on daily) should be to provide value to whoever is listening to whatever it is you’re saying. Regardless of what you’re publishing, the fact that you do it at all means that it will most likely get looked at or talked about. Anticipate those needs. You will have to do some thinking and ask yourself what this type of messaging may be, but one thing is certain; people do not want to be sold to all of the time. They tune out when treated like a target market. Instead, treat them as allies and friends. They are part of your “tribe”. If you can determine what value-added content your tribe is looking for, and repeatedly deliver it, you’re on the right track.

Once you are generating the right messaging and developing new readership, you need to make it a priority to engage in two-way communication. Just like the real world, the quicker you are at responding to your followers’ questions or comments, the better you look in their eyes. The importance of immediacy is actually even truer online, as things move exponentially fast on the “information superhighway” (for the record: I’ve never actually used that outdated term, I just thought it fit here).

People lose interest faster than ever before. You’ll need the right tools to keep pace with your followers – as they’re probably using mobile apps to interact with you, utilizing them on your end should be a priority. Another tip for socializing with your target audience is to make a priority of commenting, sharing, and mentioning them within your messaging. Don’t treat it as a typical advertising or sales message either, be human and approachable. Through benefiting your prospects by including them in your social activity, you will see dividends. Things like gaining a new brand advocate, or actually increasing foot traffic in your store – there has never been a more streamlined way to get your brand out there and help you reach your business goals.

Set Goals (But Don’t Let Metrics Discourage You)

Like any part of your business, there should be goals associated with what you are doing socially. Whether it’s publishing a blog post every week, sending out a handful of daily tweets (not including simply responding to @mentions), or regularly adding photos of new developments to your Facebook page, having goals in place will help keep you on track. At the same time though, don’t let metrics on your goals discourage you. You’re not going to get 50 Facebook page likes or Twitter followers overnight; in fact, you may not even get 5. But that’s not the point. You exist in these social spaces not to reach certain trivial arbitrary numbers, but rather, to be able to reach out to those prospects that are interested in what you have to say.

Share the Workload

Finally, if you operate a business or organization that has employees available to help in your social media marketing, why not take advantage of those resources? While your brand should have a unified voice behind what you output, crowd sourcing and assigning responsibility for new content creation (like we do here on our own blog) is an easy way to “share the load”, which if you’ve made it this far through this post, you’ll understand can require a lot of time and effort. Plus, it allows for different thoughts, opinions and expertise to shine through. Everyone involved in this process must see the value in it, and align themselves with the organization’s priorities and goals. So instead of simply making it an option for your employees to be social, why not make it a requirement? If a new software system is put in place in your company for example, you would usually need someone to come in and train your employees. So as an important part of your business, why not send some of them for social media training or have a consultant come in to work with your staff to get up to speed with what you are trying to accomplish and get them fully on board? I have been on both sides of this type of training, and have a lot of fun doing it.

That’s the last tip I’ll leave you with – have fun being social! It really comes across in your posts. Again, it shouldn’t be looked at like a chore, but rather a chance to connect with like-minded people and hopefully lead to some new business opportunities. In fact, if after reading this you’d like to hear more on how Media Mechanics can help your brand socially, or want to share some tips and tricks on how you keep yourself on track, please connect with me – I’m all ears!