This post isn’t going to cover the debate of whether your corporation needs to use social media or not. It isn’t going to get into the benefits of using social media and how you use these platforms to grow an online business.
Instead, the basis of this entire post comes from a tweet that my friend Laura recently shared on Twitter. Laura’s link goes over to an interesting read on Entrepreneur magazine on building some sort of schedule for your social media strategy.
The post talks about those businesses that set up social media accounts, get started and then stop after a few days. It also talks about those that go in waves of usage every few weeks. They go on to suggest that businesses should set up schedules for their social media strategies. While I understand what Entrepreneur is trying to convey, I disagree with some of the tips they suggest using to be successful.
Two a day loses the consumers away
One of their suggestions is that businesses should schedule two times a day to check their different social networks. You need to check things more than twice a day as consumers do not like waiting more than a few hours for a response. However I don’t think that you need log onto all social networks every few minutes to check. What I feel is a better practice if you are limited on the amount of time you have is to set up your notifications and alerts to send you an email.
By doing this you can save the time of having to log into multiple accounts to see if there is anyone you need to reply to. When I am community building for a client I set up the social accounts to notify me whenever someone mentions the business on Twitter, comments on a YouTube Video, or a Google Alert is generated, I have one central place to check. This allows me to quickly see what networks I need to take actions in. Also, if there is some sort of major incident that happens, I know instantly no matter whether I am sitting at my computer or out of the office and mobile.
Another good option is to use dual monitors. I use two monitors for my business all day long when I am in the office. The main screen is where I spend most of my time working on WordPress sites, preparing presentations to give as a social media speaker, and writing my blog posts. The secondary monitor normally is running a few social media programs to track what is going on. I normally have at least my messenger programs, Tweetdeck, and usually a few Twitter searches on that monitor. normally when I take a quick pause from my normal work, glance over to see if there is anything I need to address.
Working the weekends
One of the other tips they provide is to add videos and photos to Facebook on the weekends. From what I have seen from looking through the impressions on various Facebook pages I manage, content posted on the weekends receive less impressions and interaction than content posted throughout the week. I know for myself, I try to get away from the computers on the weekends and spend more time with the family. We usually try to do some sort of family activity on Saturdays and Sundays are usually filled between church, family events, and football games. And from what I’ve seen, I am not alone:
Jeff Turner – @respres
@TeriConrad @innahamedia ok, I’m done with Twitter for the weekend. Love ya both, but I’m shuttin this down. Have a great Sunday!
Maybe the weekends work for your business, but from what I’ve seen, weekdays seem to be a much better option for engagement and interaction.
Step by step, day by day
The final segment of their post discusses what types of things you should be doing on various days of the week. They suggest that on Mondays you should schedule your tweets for the week with a program like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck. Their suggestion goes on to say that you should have tweets come out three times a day at regular intervals. I disagree with this strategy on so many different levels.
Scheduling your social media updates can take the human interaction out and portray you more like a robot. This becomes even more apparent when major current events happen. I remember when the news broke of Steve Jobs passed away. You instantly found out who was scheduling their tweets no matter how savvy you made the scheduled tweets. Everyone online was discussing his passing. Reports showed that there were 42,000 tweets per minute sent. If you or your company was tweeting things like, “Today is a great day to buy a home,” or “Have you seen our newest items? Check it out now!” it was an instant indicator to anyone who follows you that those tweets were auto generated. While you may not feel that is a big deal, I think those types of things hinder the authenticity of your social media strategy and can cause you to lose credibility in the consumers eyes.
Neglecting your home base
Entrepreneur also suggest that you set Tuesdays & Thursdays aside to respond to comments on your blog. I totally disagree with this piece of advice. I truly believe that you should respond to those commenting on your blog as soon as you possibly can. These are the best types of leads as they are already on your website where they can purchase. If you take my advice from above and set up notifications to go to your inbox along with using a plugin like Disqus commenting system allows you to simply click reply in your inbox or mobile device and respond to your commenters instantly.
I think making those who comment on your blog wait several days for a response can cause you to lose your leads to the competition. Think about it this way. You write about one of your products or services in your blog in which a potential buyer asks a simple question. They want more information in order to make a decision whether to purchase. If you do not respond to your potential consumers quick enough they either change their mind on buying, or search for another source to answer their question faster. If that happens, the consumer is no longer buying from your site, but instead purchases from the competitor who responds faster.
We need help
There may come a point in time where you realize you can’t handle all this social media stuff. Or maybe you are not even sure how to integrate and use all of these social networks to benefit your business. There are tons of resources out there to learn more about various social media platforms. I would suggest either hiring someone for some online consulting or possibly even look at adding a new position to your team as you hire an online community manager.
If done properly, social media can help your business greatly in the online sphere in more than one way. First, it can help grow your consumer base with brand new connections and new potential clients the connect with you for the first time. Secondly and what can be even more important to many businesses, social media can help you retain current clients by providing superior customer support if done properly. If customers can get answers quickly online to their questions/problems they will be more willing to continue using a service as well as recommend your product or service to your business. Lastly, if your product is staying top of mind for consumers, they will think of you first when it comes time to purchase again.
Does size really matter?
As someone who has done community managing in the past for corporations as small as 50 and as large as 150,000, I can honestly say that the skills and processes used to successfully manage an online community isn’t that huge of a difference. Regardless of size, to be successful you need to accomplish the following:
- Constantly monitor what consumers are saying about your brand.
- Keep an eye on your competition and the things they are doingl.
- Interact with your consumers/community and make them feel appreciated whenever possible.
- Give prompt responses to blog commenters, emails and support issues.
The only difference is the scale on which you do it. When I was managing some of the smaller organizations I was able to do so working as little has 5-10 hours a week. This time was spread out in very small increments of maybe 10-15 minutes at a time. Other jobs consumed around 20 hours a week. When I helped manage a community of over 150,000 members, we actually had a team of three community builders all monitoring and managing various segments of the community. Each of us easily put in 60+ hours each week. Our members had direct access to us via email and phone and with a network that spanned over 5 countries, there was almost a need for constant monitoring and actions.
Even with three full time people constantly monitoring things, that still wasn’t enough. We probably could have used another 2-3 people assisting. In cases like this, there would be no way feasibly possible for a single person to effectively handle all the social media elements for this corporation. So keep in mind that as you grow online, there may come a time where help is a must if you want your corporation to continue growing online.
Is your business part time?
Social media strategies should become part of everyday routines for most businesses. This isn’t something you can do a little bit here, let sit a few days and then come back when you have some spare time. It would be like answering the phone and returning calls for your business only on Tuesdays & Thursdays from 10AM-2PM. My guess is that a business that tries to operate like this may have issues with longevity.
Incorporate your social media strategy into your daily routines, get active on the networks you feel are beneficial to your organization and watch the benefits come. If you can’t handle it on your own, there always is help.
photo credit: Jayel Aherem Creative Commons 2.0