Over the past 5 years, yes it’s really that long, social media or social networking has moved from the fringes of marketing to centre stage. At the same time industry pundits are recommending that we engage with people across more and more platforms. Yesterday for example I was sent and an email entitled “the 9 must use social networks“. 9! This is clearly getting out of hand, how am I going to do any work?
Now even a dinosaur like me recognises that I need to utilise this route to market but how can I keep our social networking under control. We all know that the beauty of using social networks for marketing it is that it’s free. The bad news is that using social networks for marketing is free. What do I mean by this? Because using social networks is free we tend to ignore one of the key measurements for successful marketing that of return on investment! All to often we become seduced by the fact that we can connect with all sorts of people without ever asking ourselves the key question what am I getting out of this effort. In this way social networking can easily become a time sink, where we are spending increasing numbers of hours without really looking at the returns.
If by contrast I send out a sales letter it’s pretty easy to work out the leads from that mailing. The problem I have found, at least, for most businesses is that returns from social networking are a bit like wait for a bus, nothing much happens for a long time and then suddenly 3 turn up at once.
Faced with this situation I wanted to come up with a few key questions I used to help me and subsequently my clients work out how important the use of social networking might be as part of their marketing mix, and therefore how much time should be committed to social networking. The list is by no means exhaustive but it short at least help people get social networking into some sort of perspective, they are:-
1 What do I want to get from my social networking effort? More leads, more profile or more sales?
2 Are my prospects active on social networks? If not why bother?
3 Are my products/services something that is currently actively marketed through social networking? If not. Is there a good reason?
4 How widely spread are my potential customers. Does it matter that there’s billion users on Facebook if my customers base is limited to 3 miles from where I live?
5 How much time can I reasonably spend on social networking? 30 mins or 3 hrs a day?
6 Do I understand enough about social networking to use it effectively, if not, do I have the desire to learn through training?
8 Do I understand that using social networking is for life. Not just for Christmas.
So what do I use?
Twitter daily, LinkedIn daily, Blogging twice monthly, Email marketing twice monthly and a bit of Facebook but mostly social stuff, it is meant to be social networking after all.