It is FREE to access, but not to do. That is a subtle yet critical point to make when venturing the wild west of social media. Sure it takes a few minutes to set up a twitter account, Facebook page or a LinkedIn discussion group. But that is when the “juice” starts running! I know, because when I worked for the Cisco Interaction Network (online technology TV program), that is what I walked into….literally a dozen social media sites where up in running….we even had fans and followers. Each site had a different look–no brand consistency. There was no editorial calendar or update process. But we were there….we were “active” in social media. Many managers were excited we were one of the firsts on several social media platforms–from Ning groups, to tech chat rooms and discussion forums, to wikis and blogs. Once I stepped into the job, I was already drowning…where are we? what are the usernames? passwords? who is updating what and when? who is the audience for each? It was a reconnaissance mission the CIA would be overwhelmed by.
Here is what I learned from my mission. It takes 10 times longer to keep a social media presence vibrant and engaging than any other marketing tool. That doesn’t even include the strategy, or the integration into other marketing efforts.
Just think, when you put together a print piece or an advertising campaign–you create, write, approve and publish. Then more or less you are done. Well social, never done. It is on 24/7. And the expectations….man, they are high. Just like you wouldn’t ignore someone you knew if you were face to face, same is true in social media. It is RUDE and a path to de-fanning or unfollowing with a click of the button. You have to monitor not only for damaging info, but also opportunities…again 24/7, universal access…that adds up to tons of google alerts, tweet feeds and exponential responses and engagements. It literally takes an army to monitor, respond, debunk and engage.
Just don’t be fooled by the FREE. My advice…think before you profile.
- Who is your customer or audience?
- Where is my competition?
- What are my goals?
- How am I going to maintain and nurture?
Then create a plan, including a maintenance plan and updating structure. Then dive in…I would suggest one at the time. It is better to do one thing right than a million things wrong.