Pick & Mix: Social Media Platforms

Strategic Initiatives (Part 5)

You can’t do anything, it seems, without being reminded that social media is big business. And with these reminders come questions which can leave us feeling less than savvy about this latest business innovation. Questions that can be hard to answer.

Are you on Twitter? What’s your handle? What hashtags do you follow? Can we set up the meeting in a hangout? How many fans do you have? How many connections? Do you blog? Do you have a YouTube channel. How do I sign up for your newsletter? When’s your next webinar? Do you have a QR Code?

While business owners expect to answer questions about their business, with the advent of social media and digital business, some business owners are hard pressed to know what the question’s really about. Is it about successfully running your business or is it about online face time and being the cool kid on the block?

There’s Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube, Constant Contact, Foursquare, Google Plus, Wordpress and a bevy of other social media platforms that we feel we’re supposed to be “on” in order to be a successful and savvy business in the digital age. But, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Shhhhhh...don’t let this get out to everyone. You don’t have to be “on” all of them. In fact, you probably shouldn’t.

The idea that you should showcase your business on each and every one of these “free” social media platforms has become de rigueur, but it’s not really practical. Someone, or several someones, within your organization has to put the time, effort and creativity into designing, managing and maintaining your social media presence and message. We’ve all heard the phrase jack of all trades, master of none. Ineffective use of social media can make us feeling like that jack.

Is it worth it? Absolutely! Can you measure effectiveness, ROI? Yes, with a caveat that it’s not always measurable with hard numbers and dollar signs. You just have to choose the platform or platforms that will work best for you, your business and your business style.

Do you have a lot of timely and time sensitive information to impart? Can you promote special offers and instant savings? If you answered yes, then maintaining a Twitter following is a viable option and a valuable use of your social media time and resources. How do you measure? Was your message retweeted (forwarded)? If it was, that’s a small, but powerful return on the single tweet investment. Your initial tweet can now be seen by every follower of the retweeter.

Are you looking for gate openers and referral resources? The beauty of Linkedin comes from the business intent of LinkedIn users and the lesser frequency of status updates, which means you and your message stay in mind longer, with less time invested. The ability to request and share referrals makes it an incredibly viable “silent” or “digital” word of mouth generator. You get a return on your investment when you receive a referral, when you can ask for and receive and introduction and when someone engages with your content with a like or a follow up question. Word of mouth has a proven track record for business generation. Linkedin allows for greater word of mouth reach and sharing.

It has been proven time and time again that people do business with other people they like, trust and enjoy. In order for people to like, trust and enjoy you it is necessary to build a relationship. Can this be done on a larger scale with a business focus? Definitely. With a well designed and crafted Facebook branded business presence. When well done, a branded page engages with a large online community and builds a level of trust, via transparency. You measure ROI with the level of and frequency of engagement. Do your posts get likes? Are they shared? Do you get questions, comments and even business ideas? Each like, each comment shows on your page, but it also broadens your reach, showing up on the feed of every person who likes the bestower of the like or comment.

While we certainly haven’t covered every social media platform, nearly impossible...as new ones crop up every day, we hope we’ve given you a sense that properly planned and executed social media campaigns have a value and a return on investment, and, thus, should be a careful consideration as part of your business strategy, and business marketing. Successful social media campaigns are crafted, tested and hewn with care...they are not fly by night, scattershot initiatives with little thought or planning. They aren’t add-ons or “if we have time” list additions. They can and should be a strategic, well-crafted, well-planned focus within your business and marketing objectives.

If you haven’t already, please come "like" our Facebook page, as we’ll be sharing some of our social media top tips and best practices over the next twelve days. If you have any questions about other platforms or would like to discuss social media and its value and place within your company’s strategic initiatives, please send us an email, we’d love to speak with you.