How Much Social Media Should We Use?

by Finn on June 16, 2012 · 0 comments

in Social Media

I’m not a machine. I’m seldom good at routine. It’s monotonous to me. I have to get a rush out of the activity for it to bear repeating. That said, a conversation came up at a somewhat recent networking event about quality vs. quantity of use of social media (note: I am politely rephrasing the cocktail-infused declaratives from the evening). It’s what those who delve in internet marketing do at restaurants when they don’t have tablemats to color on in order to pass the time. We started simple with the basic rehashed questions:

  • How often one should tweet?
  • How often should one retweet?
  • How often should one share content on Facebook?
  • How much should one respond to others content on Facebook?

Interchange the platforms – LInkedIN, Pinterest… – update the semantics and the questions were pretty much the same. My favorite part of the argument was whether or not someone who doesn’t consistently engage on social media platforms could be considered an expert. Given my propensity to fight for underdogs and that the unsupported position kissed my point of view, I started arguing the quality aspect…

And I think it bears repeating, give or take a new stat or two.

Cracks in the Social Media Armor

1 – One of the coolest stats I’ve heard in the last few months regarding social media came from the parrothead dad himself, Kevin Gould. He told me about how GM dropped Facebook ads because they weren’t getting a sufficient ROI – according to their stats. And, yeah, GM dropped it before Facebook dropped the ball on their IPO. According to the articles, GM will keep their Facebook pages in order to directly react to consumers, but page creation is free (give or take GM’s cost of labor) to make and free to leave up.

By contrast, Ford is upping their spend, but more on these ideas in a bit.

2 – A deeper look into Social Media on the Fortune 500 shows at best “stagnant,” growth by 2011 end of year. Use of public-facing blogs among Fortune 500 companies has decreased in many industries from their peaks. Facebook pages have also taken a small dip, but in the same breath Twitter accounts are going up.
3 – Prices for Social Media consultancy in these industries would also show why growth isn’t meteoric. For digits per hour? Social Media Millionaires. Hell, Daver doesn’t even charge that much.

It reminds me of the classic line from the movie Good Will Hunting.

“See, the sad thing about a guy like you is in 50 years you’re gonna staht’ doin’ some thinkin’ on your own and you’re gonna come up with the fact that there are two certaintees’ in life. One, don’t do that. And Two, you dropped a hundred and fifty grand on a f***in’ education you coulda got for a dollah’ fifty in late chahges’ at the public library.”

With respect, some of them are actually worth the money, but how many of them? Given that mostly the one-percenters could only afford those rates and that Fortune 500 growth has leveled…h’mph.

Luckily, Every Other Sized Business Seems to Have It a Bit Easier

For those who aren’t considering Social Media for a Fortune 500 company, and even if you are, value comes down to the simple questions of, “How Much Social Media Should We Use?” Now, the question is simple, but the answer is complex. It’s about as complex as your respective industries’ sales cycle (hint).

More Stats Supporting Small Business Use of Social Media

My favorite stat from the infographics Jeff Bullas shared was that if Facebook users were a country, they would be the third largest in the world. And if they had to renounce their citizenship to show allegiance to Facebook, they’d be the largest (good luck finding a good flat to rent in Zuckerberg).

  • Facebook users average 15 hours a month of Facebook.
  • 71% of Companies are on Facebook.
  • In 2010, the city of Chicago was the fastest growing city in terms of Facebook usage.
  • LinkedIN, being niched for business, has blown up to 100 Million users.
  • 80% of companies use social media for recruitment. 95% of them use LinkedIN.
  • 59$ of companies have a Twitter account.
  • The # of tweets per user in 2011 increased by 252%.

Potential Markets

  • And if you aren’t sure whether or not your market(s) are on Social Media, I’m guessing there’s a 4 in 5 chance they are. Why? According to Social Media Examiner, 80% of all Americans use a social network and spend more time on Facebook than any other site.
  • Also, 40% of social media users access their accounts of choice via their mobile devices.
  • 23% of online time is spent on Social Media.
  • And my favorite stat, Social Media Users are more active and influential OFFLINE!

So, How Much Social Media Should One Use?

Like any sort of craft and discipline, it starts in layers.

Make It Easy for Others Share Your Message For You

As Amos Lee would sang, “It’s just these simple things that keep me holding on.

In Social Media, it starts with making it easier for friends & customers to share your good word for you.

1 – Start by creating the accounts. Here’s link to a list of 20 social media accounts to start with. Even if you don’t plan on using them, you don’t want your competitors owning your name. Would they? I would…and there’s a lengthy list of additional worthwhile reasons as to why you’d want them.

2 – The second step is to set up your website and email marketing to make it easy for users to engage and share the content (“What if I don’t have email marketing started? Well, start that 5 minutes ago. There’s nothing more important in Internet marketing than email marketing!). Get your Twitter Follows and RTs, your Facebook Shares & Fan Pages, Google +1s, Pinterest Pin Its… This is also important from an SEO aspect now that Google tracks all this social sharing as part of their ranking algorithm. So even if you don’t want to, it’s time to channel your inner 12-year-old girl and get social.

3 – If you’re one of those companies who already have push marketing going – print / tv / radio / online advertising, packaging, branding…add links to your social media accounts on your promotions to promote awareness. In the case of GM, they push heavy TV, Print & Google Ads with links to their Facebook pages & preferred Twitter hashtags. A look at TV ads shows many commercials stopped pushing facebook links and started promoting Twitter Hashtags instead, Get others to spread the word for you. Retail companies and consumer brands have followed the trend too. It beats having to pay for the ads to increase the following (though both works just well!). Don’t forget your pitch packets, media kits, business cards, email signatures…If you have contests and specials and sales, include your fb & twitter links on those print materials as well

And your Social Media presence is on its way without ever having to make a tweet. Now, engagement and advertising to enhance one’s presence are available, but back to the point of the message:

Make It Easy for People to Like You on Social Media

Social Media got its name not because of a bet. They got it because it allowed people to be friendly and interactive online. There’s a reason more people spend more time on social media than they do on porn.

Kyle Lacy wrote in Twitter Marketing for Dummies that there should be 10 RTs for every bit of self-promotion.
Douglas Karr of Corporate Blogging for Dummies always suggests to spend an hour a day on Social Media. All great tips. And there’s thousands more out there and I like most of them to a point. And the point is this:

Your approach to others in Social Media should be about the same as how you’d want to meet friends on the first day of school. Or another view, Imagine how you would approcah someone you’re instantly attracted to after seeing them for the first time – even if it’s in a crowded room. What would you say? How would you act? What would be your opening move? Do you have an opening line? A smile?

Nobody likes to have advertising thrown in their face all day. We skip through commercials with our DVRs and spend $6 a month for Spotify premium so as to not have to hear commercials. If all you do that all day, you might as well not do them at all. Nobody likes the one who flashes their credentials all day – unless they truly are a rock star. And even that gets old. You might even get the girl with that approach, but you’ll never keep them (and if you could, would you want them?).

As for methodology, it depends on niche, market and competition. For example, in retail, announce your specials. Real specials, not just features. A $5 beer isn’t as appealing just because you put it on Facebook. If that $5 beer is on sale for $3 that night, share that. Social Media doesn’t change the rules. Contest and free stuff are awesome too. Friends like it when you give them free stuff. And it’s business. A little Bill Withers, “Use Me,” can go a long way.

Be a Friend to Make Friends

As with most friends, we like the ones who are willing to listen to what we have to say. If you can learn how to listen on Social Media, to act, react, give advice and truly care about those from which you interact with, they’ll care about you as well.

As For that ROI

As for ROI, once again it’s niche, market & competition to determine your ROI as well as revenue before and after. Also, if you have a longer sales cycle, these efforts won’t expedite the process too much – but you never know. A little patience, a little tenderness, and a little practice and in time you’ll start to integrate yourself into your needed communities.

And if you’re like some of the lucky ones whose social media efforts integrated them into networks where you can spend more time being social than being on social media, then all the more power to you! Reminder, Social Media Examiner did point out Social Media users are more active and influential OFFLINE! So buy me lunch already! I’m guessing there’s a touch of truth to it.

And that should save you a dollah’ fifty in late chahges’ at the public library (much to Rebecca Rzepczynski’s chagrin I’m certain :-))

So, Whatcha Think?

photo credit:  Andrew Prickett via Flickr

Nat Finn just tries to help out with the community. His list of projects and employers include livemercial, Milestone Internet Marketing, Blog Indiana, #NWITweetup and…his little design & development shop: BakedFInn

He’s also a Cubs fan – which means he’s unusually faithful and devoted :-P

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