Judging by the pageview stats and general response, it is pretty clear that my last post, Social Media is NOT a Strategy, really caught your attention. Since I’m on a roll with the whole “not” thing, let’s come at it from another angle.
Like I said last week, I am a huge proponent of using social media for specific business purposes, particularly when you can measure it. This is in addition to my “doesn’t have to be said” stance that everyone with an online identity should be using it for personal reasons. But just because it’s a no-brainer for personal use and is a great new tool for business, that doesn’t say it is right for YOUR business.
When is Social Media Not Right for Your Business?
Keep in mind what I said last week about getting your objectives figured out prior to attacking social media without any direction. That’s always the first critical step. However, even if your objectives might suggest that social media could provide value for you, that might not always be the case. Here are 3 situations where you might want to try other avenues first.
Your Target Audience Is Not Online
This is one area where my previous post should ring most relevant to you. Obviously, you want to make sure your customers and prospects can actually be found through whatever mediums you select upon which to execute any of your most critical strategies. For example, Facebook stats show that there are precious few elderly folks with profiles. The same holds true across most platforms.
I had someone approach me a while back about whether they needed to be on Facebook. Guess what they were selling…hearing aids! ["Um, lemme think for a sec, NO!"] In fact, the oldest demographic of our population is least likely to be computer literate at all, let alone actually savvy enough to move beyond games and email to social media. It’s not hard to find them…just rely on the established mass media and direct marketing techniques that they grew up knowing and understanding.
You Have Not Gotten The Basics In Order First
Not to harp on the topic, but the OST (Objectives, Strategies, Tactics) approach can help prioritize what the most important business objectives are. Then you designate the strategies and align against it. The next step, which should most certainly be undertaken prior to experimentation with new technologies and tools, is to get the actual PR, marketing, networking, etc. activities figured out using the tools that you already know and understand.
Granted, some of these don’t work like they once did, but I’m a staunch believer that you need to understand the past to move on into the future. Make sure you establish operating procedures, processes, and other business critical variables first. Then and only then should you start to throw darts at a wall to see what sticks.
Your Team Cannot Commit To It
Regardless what anyone says, social media is in no way free. Sure, you can throw together a profile on the various social media properties at no cost. You can start posting content to a blog or Twitter daily, hourly, whatever you deem appropriate. Is that free? What is your time worth? Who will do it for you?
If you or your team has to spend time on something, it is crucial to consider the opportunity cost associated with that activity. What would you or your marketing team be doing with that time otherwise? Will social media get the level of attention and effort it deserves? I hope so. The worst thing you can do is jump in with a head of steam and then drop it mid-stream, as soon as other priorities start to interfere. Just look at the trail of dead blogs out there and you’ll see what I mean.
If you intend to do it, you simply cannot cut corners. There is a real time and effort “fee” associated with social media. Do the calculation of your expected manhours, the cost for that time investment, and what you are leaving by the wayside to do so. Then decide if that number is large enough to hire someone full-time or as an outside consultant to execute on your behalf. If you aren’t willing to invest in it at some level, you’re better off sticking to your established methods of doing business.
Social media is a major shift in the way we can interact and market ourselves. It finally uses the internet as intended…in a fully interactive and organic fashion. But you simply cannot get so excited about it that you jump in without considering if it is actually relevant to your business. Surely there are other situations where you are better off delaying or ignoring social media as a communication medium, but here are three biggie’s that I see overlooked frequently.
Have you seen any other situations I’m missing? Did you experiment with social media and find that it is not a fit? How did that impact your business? I’d love to hear some real-world accounts of this, so please share your thoughts.