So how does a small business get into social media and not get taken on a ride by the “consultants” offering to set them up and get them lots of followers?
Some of the businesses I help are actually in a very similar business space to mine. I work with ad agencies and design firms looking to grow their business by adding “social media” offerings to their clients.
The question over and over, from agencies and individual businesses is how much time will I have to spend on this and what can I expect in return. And it is a good question. The answer is not so easy for me to put down. I will try and do it in two parts:
Q: How much time will I have to spend on this?
A: How much time do you have? (No… sorry, a bad joke.) Once your systems are in place you can spend as little as a few hours a week keeping your information current and dipping in and out of the conversations that are going on around you. That’s the easy answer.
Q: What can I expect in return?
A: You may experience increased sales if you are selling t-shirts or products online. You might be able to get more visitors to your website. You might even be able to land a new client simply by showing how intelligent you are using social media. BUT… What you will get in return is equal to the effort you put into it.
The good news is the tools are mostly free. And more good news is with some set up you can build a process to help you get quicker at checking your “social” network and determining next actions, if any, you need to take to keep things lively.
The less than perfect news is the results from social media are often not 1-to-1 efforts. A night spent panning at the social media gold stream does not necessarily mean you will come away with enough nuggets to pay for breakfast. And to feed a village of folks it’s gonna take a few more miners working the stream.
But here’s what’s cool. You can see immediate results from your actions. You can use tools like Google Analytics and free WordPress plug-ins to watch your social media influence and how your actions DO, in fact, create activity.
The trick, beyond panning for gold, is actually beginning to engage with the community of people you want to be doing business with. And the goal of the conversation is not the potential invoice it might produce, but the TRUST it might produce. I believe that the level of TRUST required to actually DO BUSINESS on the WEB is 2 times higher than it might be otherwise. And here’s why that’s becoming even more apparent.
Do you remember the heyday of email spam? When you got furious weeding through all the crap that was sent in the name of ecommerce, viagra and lost funds in from Nigeria. Remember that?
Social media tools, free as they are, fuel the fools gold rush at an even higher levels. If you’ve spent any time on Twitter lately you know what I am talking about. Separating the nuggets from the rest of the stream is getting increasingly difficult. I literally delete more than 100 followers a week because they are porn dealers, seo scam artists or Twitter-bots. These are people who are latching on to me in hopes of snagging some tiny flake of my reputation and tricking someone who follows me into following them. And new Twitterbot tools are coming out daily to help folks who want to JAM the STREAM with NOISE.
So what does it take to endear TRUST in this accelerated and ever more dire economy? And once that trust is in place, how can we move forward to do business together?
Here are the keys, in my opinion, to social media success.
In speaking with a colleague in business we were both lamenting the “deals” that seem to be getting suspended and put on hold.
What does it take to get the check in hand? Well, if I could tell you the actual answer to that question… Okay, I’m gonna work on that for a bit and get back to you on it.
In the meantime, if you need a social media injection let me know. I’ve just set up a 30% off discount on my social media ninja trainings.
- Why Everyone Wants to be Your Social Media Strategist
- Bored Tweetless: When Twitter Is Not About Conversations
- Going TRIBAL: The Foundations of an Active Community Site
- What’s Your Social Media STACK? Application Framework? Social Media Workflow?
Please also check out The Twitter Way, collected writings on Twitter soon to be a major motion picture.