Playing the Long ‘Social Media’ Game

“Make each day a masterpiece.”

John Wooden, basketball coach extraordinaire

Social media is addictive: there are so many cues that garner a (predictable) response, it’s no wonder that you now see everyone glued to their smart-phone. And, if you add in a plethora of free platforms, you can see why, in short order, social media has become businesses best (or worst?) friend.

When I first entered the fray, I was as intrigued as the next person. Twitter was my drug of choice, largely because I needed to communicate with my clients who were slightly ahead of the social media curve (professional athletes). But I soon recognised that it was more than just a way of communicating in a more personal way than the turgid Microsoft Outlook – it was a way of growing a Tribe of social media literate followers who would help me develop my professional reputation.

My sector was professional services – law to be precise; and to say ‘they’ were in the luddite camp would be a gross understatement. Their teeth practically clattered to breaking point with the prospect of being sued by dint of another miscreant Tweet of yours truly. In the end I decided that to be myself on-line I couldn’t wear the conformist badge and kicked my ‘lawyer’ label into touch.

If you have been persuaded of the business case or the need to engage with social media then beyond anything else you need a long term plan. Not a Grand Scheme but something that speaks to your passion, and are prepared to stick at through thick and thin.

Why?

Simple …

‘cos if you don’t believe in what you are doing then you will quit!

And I don’t mean quit in the sense of pulling the plug. No, I mean you will stop believing in the paradigm that you have invested in so heavily, and will start peddling a load of soft-soap marketing platitudes – “We are brilliant” – rather than earning attention, growing a tribe and offering more in value than you receive in payment.

The thing is too many people think that social media is the saviour of their business. They have either read or digested so much nefarious gobbledygook that they end up believing that as long as they are in the social media Game that that is enough. It usually starts with the innocent Tweet, posting details about a sales promotion, and ends with a slew of en masse posts which scream “BUY IT!”. I don’t know about you, but the moment I see the push and not the pull, I just switch off.

If you need a place to start or feel you need to go back to square one, you could do worse than consider the acronym P.O.S.T. (PEOPLE, OBJECTIVES, STRATEGY, TECHNOLOGY). It is taken from Groundswell by Bernoff and Li – one of the seminal social media books.

People

Who are you trying to reach?

Who is in the social media space?

Who are you fans?

Objectives

What are they?

Do they chime with your business goals?

When will you know if you have reached them?

Strategy

Do you have one?

Do you need one?

Is it focused on the long term?

Will you move the model from top down to core-centric?

Technology

Which platform is right for the business?

Will you have a call to action?

How many platforms will you maintain?

Does your demographic chime with your content on that platform?

How will you resource the platforms?

Hopefully you can see that in raising these few questions social media doesn’t just happen on the hoof. In fact, if it is going to work for you then it is no different to planning any marketing or business development activity. You will want to build, measure, learn and repeat the process but set against a few clear objectives.

In case you think otherwise, social media is not for the feint-hearted. Much like the sport of professional cycling (yes, I am still a Lance Armstrong fan!), you have to have a heart for it. Even if you don’t – a lot of business owners still don’t get it – find the evangelists in your organisation that are turned on by the idea of engaging on Facebook or Google+ with those few people that are starting to show an interest on those platforms.

I am often approached by people who seek my plain-speaking words to tell them which platform is best for their business. I want to say something important but in truth I don’t know. It’s a serious question and demands a serious answer. It could be Facebook but then again it might be that social media is the last thing the business needs right now. For me, it is the passion and desire for the enterprise that is key. If people don’t believe in their offering then no amount of Tweeting, posts to Google+ or a brilliant page on Pinterest will help.

If you are in the game be prepared to show up every day, not just when you feel like it. This doesn’t mean you can’t turn the computer off, but things happen so quickly on-line that you will soon be forgotten about if you don’t have some sort of presence.

If all you see is another sales funnel then in time you will burn out and so will your audience.

Working with me:

I am available for speaking, consulting and one on one coaching. Please feel free to email me at juliansummerhayes@gmail.com or contact me on 075888 15384.

You can follow me on Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn,  Tumblr or Flavors.me

 

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