Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Web Secret #81: Social Media - How Much Should You Use?

My friend DeeAnna Merz Nagel recently sent me a thought provoking blog post by social media guru Jeff Bulla, "How Many Social Media Channels Should Your Brand Be Using?"

To answer this burning question, Jeff points out that a big company like Starbucks uses 11 different social media "channels" (like Twitter, Facebook, blogging, etc.) and employs 6 staff on their social media team to make it happen.

He explains that all social media channels fall into 7 major categories:

1. Blogging

2. Social Networking: eg Facebook. Building relationships online can be a big part of having a successful business. Social networking allows you to hang out with people that have similar interests to you.

3. Micro Blogging: is a combination of social networking and blogging. Building a large list of followers is a great way to meet people and increase traffic to your blog and websites.

4. Social Bookmarking: Directories such as Digg and Technorati serve as search engine bait for your blog posts and for new traffic from people who read your blog articles. Bookmarking a blog post is very easy to do and the rewards can definitely pay off.

5. Discussion Forums: One of the first forms of social media. Eg: listservs on Yahoo Groups.

6. Email Marketing: There has always been money in having a list.

7. Video Marketing: YouTube.

Finally, he answers his own question "How Many Channels for your Brand?", with the following: "it is ... a matter of the resources that you have available, both in time and money to engage in Social Media effectively." He then recommends blogging.

Wait! Halt! STOP!!!

Jeff, I agree with you, time is definitely a factor. I always tell my clients, "be honest with yourself - how much time do you REALLY have to blog, or tweet, or write on your Facebook wall?"

Money? I am not so sure. Social media is free. So dough is not necessarily a factor.

But expertise? That is the whole enchilada.

And blogging? 90% of bloggers have no business blogging.

Ask yourself:
  • Can I write?

  • Can I write something clever, useful or witty?

  • Can I write something clever, useful or witty, at least once a week?

  • Can I write something clever, useful or witty, at least once a week - for an indefinite period of time?
Most people will answer no to one or more of these questions. And if you answer no to any of these questions, DO NOT BLOG.

If you are burning to get involved in the blogosphere, find and read the best blogs in your field(s) of interest. Post your judicious and well thought out comments on these blogs.

What about Twitter?

Ask yourself:
  • Can I craft clever, useful, interesting tweets?

  • Can I craft clever, useful, interesting tweets, at least once a day?

  • Can I craft clever, useful, interesting tweets, at least once a day, for an indefinite period of time?

You get my drift. You can have all the time in the world, but if you don't have the skill set, don't do it. And if you want to be involved in Twitter, you can always follow the people who are useful to your goals and retweet interesting stuff.

In fairness to Jeff, money can play a helpful role, because you can hire people to help you with your social media presence. If you have good content, but no writing skills, hire an editor to help you blog. Engage an expert to convert your thoughts and ideas into clever tweets. Get someone to help you with Facebook or LinkedIn. (Contrary to what you might think, do not hire a kid. Kids use Facebook to socialize - they have no clue how to use it for business purposes.)

Here is a helpful analogy. Thinking about renovating your kitchen? Do you have plumbing and electrical skills? No? Hire a contractor.

Ditto with social media.

Use as much social media channels as you have time, money AND expertise.

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