Last week, we mentioned the importance of being “present” in as many social media forums as you can handle, because you never know which one of them might help a new customer (or a hundred of them) discover your business.
This week, let’s tackle the nuts & bolts of HOW to be everywhere. Because even though it seems like there’s an endless supply of social media tools to explore, your hours in a day are still locked in at 24, and you’d like to use a few of those for pursuits other than work…
The good news is, you can be everywhere using one of 3 basic approaches:
This is the least time-consuming (but also least personal) way to use social media: as a one-size-fits-all media outlet for your message. This means you essentially take the same information you’d use in one format — like a blog — and repurpose that content everywhere else you “are” online — on Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Same message, different outlets.
The upside? Once you have your master blog post or ad copy designed, the rest of your time is spent copying-and-pasting, or otherwise rearranging that message to fit into all of the other outlets.
The downside? You’re not really being “social” in this case, since you’re essentially using each platform as a one-way conversation — more like traditional advertising but with more distribution points.
This approach presumes that you have a “home base” — a website, web store, or some other central hub that you’d like all of your new visitors to end up at. In this case, you can utilize as many social media tools as you’d like, but the purpose for each of them will be to offer bite-sized glimpses of the “full story.” If people want more, they’ll have to click through to your home base.
The upside? Social media is not an arena that prides itself on long attention spans, so a bite-sized message or teaser is often ideal for a medium that lends itself well to skimming. Plus, you can save the bulk of your time and effort for the visitors who are interested enough to click through to your hub, rather than spreading yourself too thin across multiple platforms.
The downside? If you’re encouraging the bulk of your social interaction or customer involvement to take place in one (web) location, you may miss out on opportunities to engage people more fully throughout your additional outposts.
Not for the faint of heart (or the short of time), this solution calls for a dedicated involvement on the part of you (or whomever comprises your “social media team”). Here, you’re seeking to customize the delivery of your message AND the quality of your interaction with new (and existing) audiences within each individual social media platform you inhabit. In this strategy, all tools are equal, and someone commenting on your blog post is every bit as important as someone who silently follows your photo stream on Flickr.
The upside? Quality of engagement. Instead of using social media as a bullhorn, this option truly allows you to invest a personal touch in your online interactions, and helps you discover “what works” for each audience on each platform. That means your ROI will be much higher (but so will your invested resources). AND, as an added bonus, you’ll learn much more about your audience because you’ll be listening, acting and reacting to them, as opposed to merely shouting at or shepherding them.
The downside? A lack of time. The nuances of each of these tools can be exploited ever more fully, but to do so might require a person to spend as much time online as they spend offline — if not more.
So which solution is best for YOU? Honestly, you won’t know until you’ve begun to experiment with these tools and measured their impact on your business. But, as in most things, time — and how much you have to share — will tell.
Photo by teliko82.