Nuts and Bolts: So When Does Social Media Start to Help My Business?

by Trish

All shiny and fun. Sparkling new, something to watch as an oddity: that’s been social media for many. The early adopters are scrambling to show how effective social media can be for folks recently put out of work or for businesses struggling to keep their staff even in the midst of lean times. (My sis works at an HR think tank and she said the word is to hang on for just a bit longer. In her words, “We are in the muddling middle.” They counsel companies who are determined to reduce hours, cut wages, but to keep people employed and to keep the health insurance going for as many as they can.)

In the midst of those type of situations, what’s social media got to do with anything?

Well, it is the future. When your company recovers (if you’re struggling), you’ll be making plans to dive into social media, trust me. Or if you’re doing well now (there are MANY companies booming right now), then by all means, get in there.

How, you might ask? What’s in it for us? What does it mean?

Well, in a nutshell, look around you. What is dying?

Print.

Newspapers. Magazines.

Where are they going?

Online.

If your company wants to survive this new world that has arrived, you’ll need to create your online presence and make it work.

This means Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

This means Stumble Upon, Digg, and YouTube.

Where do you start?

1. Set some goals.
Make sure your desire to play with social media doesn’t overwhelm the needs your company really has. What do you plan to accomplish online? Create a community, drive traffic? How is that accomplished? This requires some serious thinking.

2. How will you accomplish those goals?
If you’re looking to drive traffic, you’ll need to start putting up some content, either free or for your paying clients that invites them to visit your site/blog/Twitter profile. If you’re looking to establish a presence online to combat negative press, you’ll need to have someone monitoring the Internet presence on a continual basis. The key to negating bad press is to deal with it as soon as possible.

3. If something doesn’t work, do you fix it or drop it?
For blogging, there is a six month period of continual posting in which you are building past your launch phase. It is not unusual for there to be no comments, no people interacting with you. This is the phase of you partaking information to your niche. At about 9-12 months in (in some cases even longer), you should see more interaction with your audience. If you don’t see that, are you providing content that invites participation? In that case, I would try and fix it. Hire a blogger, get some feedback from your audience, something. The only time I tell folks to drop a social media project is if it no longer meets their primary goals.

4. The social media aspect must fit somehow into your marketing, networking, or sales funnel. If it doesn’t fit into any of those, you might need to rethink what you are doing with social media, and whether or not the activities you’ve chosen have actually gotten you closer to your goals.

5. Social media will change, so flexibility is key. Not to start and stop, start and stop, but to realize that your audience has shifted, your market’s needs have changed, the tenor of the discussion about your company or products has morphed, etc. Be aware that your job is to stay one step ahead of or abreast of these changes and to shape your social media accordingly.

More questions, refer to the social media books I referred you to in this post. Or contact me on Twitter, in the comments, or via email.

How will you begin to implement a social media plan? What will you do today?

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