When I hear people debate the ROI of social media?   It makes me remember why so many business fail.   Most businesses are not playing the marathon.   They’re playing the sprint.   They’re not worried about lifetime value and retention.   They’re worried about short-term goals.

Gary Vaynerchuk

According to our (unscientific) office poll, the average person spends a little more than 40 minutes a day on some sort of social media site or sites.   Some national surveys, however, claim that this number is closer to three hours or more!   That’s a lot of time to put towards something if you don’t have some sort of plan for how you’re going to manage it or why you’re even doing it!

I don’t think I’m much different from most folks in the way I approach social media.   I generally stick to Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.   Facebook is reserved for family and friends and keeping in touch. Sharing pictures and keeping track of what’s going on in each other’s lives is fun, especially when you may live hundreds or thousands of miles apart.   Part of my personal strategy is to keep a sort of Chinese wall between my Facebook world and my professional life.   So, sorry co-workers and business associates, we can’t be “friends” unless and until we no longer work together.   However, LinkedIn is all about that professional world.   My connections there are a giant contact list of folks I’ve worked with, done business with or otherwise become acquainted with over the course of my career.   And yes, you’ll find some “real” friends in those connections as well.   As for Twitter, it’s a bit of a smorgasbord. I’ve got friends there, business contacts and associates and a whole slew of people that I don’t personally know, but for some reason or another have “followed” me, or I’ve chosen to follow.    I’ll tweet some things personal, some things business and some things just plain quirky.   As I think about it, my Twitter persona most closely reflects my personal “brand” and who I really am.   (The Twitter profile exercise of describing “who you are” in 140 characters or less can be enlightening!)  Feel free to follow me at @hlsanders3.

That last part above, about branding… that’s the key.   In a world where anyone can electronically come along and look into who you are and what you’re all about…   What do you want them to see?   What do you want them to come away with? (See earlier post here about personal branding.)  This is where it is especially important for the business side of things.   We at Marketing Workshop make an intentional effort of sharing who we are and what we want to be perceived as – our brand – on various social media sites.   This is important for a couple of reasons.   First of all, it’s about creating awareness.   If you just have a Facebook page, that’s very passive.   Even if you get someone to “like” you, if you don’t create some content that shows up in their timeline, they will soon forget your page, and you!   The content that you create though also has to draw them in.   Again, it’s very passive to just see something show up in your timeline and keep scrolling.   If, however, you post something that is more engaging, you’re moving beyond awareness into brand building.   Your company starts to become known for something.   You start to create an expectation among your followers of what you are like and what you stand for.

Most businesses will align their strategy with the type of business they are in.   Retailers and manufacturers like to engage their customers on Facebook and Pinterest; Platforms that allow for instant feedback and sharing of ideas, etc.   Service-oriented organizations or B-to-B type businesses might rely more on LinkedIn to reach their clients, customers and employees.   Like everything related to your brand, the strategy must be well thought out and be consistent with your overall messaging and communications.

One final comment…  We don’t just do this because it’s fun.   Social media is part of the evolution not just of communication, but of marketing and advertising, as well.   Hence, the companies that stay ahead of, or at least even with, these waves of technology as they evolve, will be best positioned to succeed in the modern business environment.

So, don’t just let Social media become, in the words of some of our respondents, “a real time waster”, “a time suck” or “a time sap”.   Think about what you’re doing. Be proactive about what you’re doing and why… and how much time you’re spending doing it.   Be intentional. Otherwise, there’s a whole lot of time down the drain – time you’re never going to get back.

~ Marketing Workshop