6 reasons why social media shouldn’t be a last ditch effort

photo by Mr. Thomas (creative commons)

Running or managing a business or getting going on a start up is hard work. And you can be very busy running a business and still not achieve your goals. Its complicated, isn’t it? Sometimes its easy to pin point an issue and other times. Em. Not so much.  Business owners and managers know this situation intimately. Some try to find a new way to create a solution. Some solve one of the source problems in an effort to solve the entire problem.  Some blame the customer or a vendor. Some just give up.

Social media and business have this in common. Social media too, takes hard work and requires a hard look at multifaceted issues. Sometimes there are challenges to social media, and when that happens there are a number of choices you can make, some will solve the problem others will just blame someone else. Social media at its best and most successful is integrated into an overall marketing strategy.  Yet, because social media gets the hot press right now, there seems to be this idea that social media is an acceptable last-ditch effort. When all else has failed, try social media and do it FAST. But that in itself is a set-up for failure:

  • Social Media often requires digital building: as you determine your goals, you’ll likely find that you’ll want to create some things.  Alot of businesses decide that when they begin social media in earnest, that’s a good time to change the website. You might also consider a very specific content strategy or you might want to build a blog, it might be a Facebook page, it might be a series of videos. Regardless, creating these elements are likely to require some time, talent and approval, no matter what the size of your business.
  • Social media and branding: like ice cream and chocolate. You can HAVE ice cream without the chocolate. You can have chocolate without ice cream..but together, ooooh better!   A well defined brand will have a head start. If you haven’t given any consideration to your brand, some of your work might be geared towards defining the brand, its voice and its values. The same goes for customers, knowing who you want to reach and what’s important to them is a also a good start. If you don’t know these things – finding them out before your social media campaign will improve its likelihood of success.
  • Social Media relies on relationships: relationships take time to develop. You can’t just jump into a social media site and build an audience overnight. You can’t just jump in and create an excited, passionate audience over night. While you are in the quietly listening to others, your followers can happen somewhat organically. You’ll see though, that this isn’t enough. If you want people to talk and share or participate, you’ll need people who already “like” you for one reason or another.
  • Social Media won’t make up for a poor product: If your customer service is lousy or isn’t empowered, fix that before going down the social media route. If your a web based company and you don’t have a successful funnel, fix that first. If you product breaks, tastes bad or doesn’t do what its supposed to, fix that first. No matter how creative your social media plan, if you don’t have a good product, your spending your money in the wrong place. Ultimately, you’re just polishing a turd.
  • Social Media benefits from integration: From email marketing to event marketing to advertising, the ways in which you can make your marketing program stronger using social media is almost limitless. For example, you might find that you have a great idea for a social media campaign, but you’d like to include it in your print advertisements. Print advertisements are usually set in stone 2-6 weeks in advance. Or maybe you’d like a partnership to be in place that can benefit the campaign, depending the partnership’s complexity and players, that can take from a month to a year or more. Maybe your a new business, from a long term perspective, getting email addresses should be a key element of your social media, which may require..yes, some digital building.
  • Social Media requires some testing: Your audience is going to have its quirks, sometimes the only way to understand those is to “do and learn.” “Do and learn” takes some patience and willingness to use the lessons learned. Very few success stories have hit it out of the park on their first social media foray. Give yourself a break and be willing to take a risk. Not everything will be perfect or viral on the first hit. Set some realistic goals for your first social media campaign and allow yourself to learn from it.

Before you start down the social media path, give some serious consideration to the serious time and effort it will probably take to build a successful program. Much like running or starting a business, give it the best chance it has at success.

What are some other reasons that social media isn’t a last ditch effort? Have you seen some last ditch efforts that worked?

PS: Have a happy and safe July 4th! I’ll catch you on the flip side!