As someone running a web services agency, I need to keep an eye on almost everything occupying the mind of my team members. Lately, my team seemed obsessed with social media marketing and spent quite a lot of time using the so called 'networks' to spread the word of our brand.
I roughly added the number of hours spent on such social media efforts and it turned out to be a staggering 220 hours every week on an average.
This made me wonder and when I was done thinking, I was left with following questions;
- How much business are such social media efforts generating for me?
- If it is obligatory to engage socially, then, where to draw the line?
- Is it fine to pay now (in terms of salaries) for something that will generate benefit I don't know when?
- Is it really where my best minds should be investing time?
Before going ahead, let's make one thing clear
I am not a social media hater. I have been earning money from web for almost a decade now and I am well aware about the importance social media holds.
I myself spend ample time on social media to remain get updated about trends and popular perceptions.
But at the end of the day, I am a businessman in the habit of weighing cost and returns. And cost was turning out to be quite humungous in terms of hours spent.
Things I Already Knew
As I said above, I am not a social media novice. I keep a check on all social media profiles representing my brand on social media and also give inputs on events that are worth covering. So, I already know that;
Social media is a time consuming affair - Even if you consider just four of the most important platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest), keeping followers engaged is a gigantic task. All four of them are different and require different efforts from planning & execution point of view.
Just anybody cannot do it - We all have fair understanding of Twitter and Facebook but running a campaign or managing brand profiles is a completely different ball game. Unique set of skills & insights are required to find and curate something relevant to your brand that people will find share-worthy.
Return is long term - If you exclude campaigns with freebies & discounts involved, return from social media profiles are rarely visible in the short term. A lead or two will come through social profiles from time to time but nothing worth jumping around in glee.
Things that I learnt
I knew this much because our services also take social media in account. It is part of being a boss to know the answers. However, the questions I raised in front of the team, and the discussion that followed brought forward a whole new angle.
Here are excerpts of the observations;
Doing the same thing doesn't pay - Being repetitive is not going to make online fans look forward to your posts. The need is to be imaginative without traveling too far from your brand image and message. This is something that consumes time and demands extra efforts from team.
Widen Your Reach - You simply cannot live in the illusion of having great social profiles. Reaching out to new audience base is important to derive real business benefit. Blogging and slide share posts are famous nowadays for achieving this.
Though I acquired new insights and cleared certain doubts, there are certain things I came out of the discussion to avoid 'overdoing social media';
Think about instant gratification - Here, I am speaking about the fulfillment of goal that is important to remain in business; that is, generating more leads, product sales and client communication. What would brilliant long term social presence do if I have to pull down the shutters tomorrow?
So, we decided to focus on campaigns and posts that will make people contact us for consultation and queries.
Present clients first, uncertain future later - Projects that we are presently working on deserve all our attention. In the remaining time, we can focus on spreading our brand message and promotion. No doubt social media is important for a strong future foundation but interests of clients have to come first.
More importantly, replying with 'Sorry, we were busy running SM promotional campaigns for ourselves' doesn't sound nice if client enquires about project status.
Highlighted points may seem applicable to service industry only but actually they can be implemented anywhere.
For instance, if you are running a social media discount for your breakfast joint, make you're your daily visitors doesn't suffer due to additional flow.
Social media is a fascinating field and more of a playground for anyone with imaginative mind and business intellect. That said, it is important to keep a check on how much you are investing in it and how much you are getting.
Personally speaking, I am yet not the social-media- master. Every day I add to my social knowledge and discuss with my team for greater clarity. So, feel free to counter my points and share your opinion about social media.