Anyone who knows me well will vouch that I’m a huge advocate of Social Media as a tool for encouraging greater collaboration and sharing and have been using both for business for just over 3yrs with great success. However, I’m also aware that Twitter and Facebook can be a massive time suck which can actually make you LESS productive at work!
In particular, I’m concerned that start-ups (including new projects within existing organisations) are seeing Twitter and Facebook as a great panacea which will bring them more customers and riches, simply by being on it all day every day and picking up as many new ‘Followers’ (on Twitter) and ‘Fans’ (on Facebook) as possible.
In my line of work, my Twitter Timeline is filled with people who Tweet a lot but say very little. Of course, the majority of people I Follow are interesting individuals doing interesting work but you wouldn’t necessarily know this from some of the things that they share. Perhaps it’s just the type of people I am Following but if you’re a sole trader or small start-up of say 1 or 2 people, I would question how much ‘real work’ you are doing if you are on Twitter all day. You are either not doing the work, or are working ridiculous hours (late nights and weekends) just trying to keep up with all the work that is going undone whilst you are on Twitter and Facebook.
Yes, I understand the attraction of Twitter and Facebook. It’s free, but not really. There’s always a cost to you or your business in terms of time and effort it takes to build up a Following or Fanbase and to respond to all the @mentions and DM’s that come through. Also, it doesn’t really feel like work does it? It’s quite fun being on Twitter and Facebook and so very easy to kid yourself that you are doing extremely important work that will develop your online brand and business. This may be true of course, but you need to think long and hard about how much time you can realistically devote to ‘doing Social Media properly’ and what this will look like for you and your business.
In general, this is how I use Twitter and Facebook for work which you may find helpful to know:
- First thing in the morning – I travel to work by bus and metro and use some of this time to catch up on latest news via various blogs, Twitter and Facebook. If there’s anything that I feel is of interest to our Followers on Twitter I will Retweet it along with posting my own Tweets about our latest news. Research including that by Dan Zarrella suggests that before 9am is a good time to share links to your own articles and blog posts as this is when professional bloggers, journalists and web editors are looking for stories they can feature on their own site. It’s also when other ’general readers’ are getting ready for and travelling to work so there’s some dead time here during which they are consuming information. I’ve been doing this in recent months and it does seem to be paying off with an increased number of Retweets and shares of things I post in the morning, between 8am-9am. I’m also finding that evenings, after 5pm and weekends are a good time to engage with Followers and Fans (or users/clients/customers).
- Get into the habit of only posting things on Twitter and Facebook when you actually have something NEW and interesting to talk about! There are so many people just blabbering on about the same old stuff, day in day out. If people aren’t clicking on the links to products and services you are talking about, perhaps there’s a very good reason? Maybe your Followers and Fans simply don’t want what you are offering? Either that or the things you are saying are coming across as too boring, salesy or spammy! However, unless you are actually measuring clickthroughs via free analytical tools like Bit.ly, Google Analytics or Facebook Page Insights then you really won’t have a clue if the work you are doing is having any meaningful impact or if it’s just a massive waste of your time. This goes back to my original point that if you’re not actually creating anything new then you will quickly run out of things to say. It will just be empty marketing for marketing’s sake.
So, my advice would be tread carefully with Social Media and don’t get sucked into believing that it’s the solution to all your marketing and sales problems. If the products and services you are offering in the first place aren’t very good (or not what your customers want), then no amount of blogging, Tweeting or Facebook updates is really going to help. It sounds obvious but you’ve also got to remember that a Follow on Twitter or a ‘Like’ on Facebook isn’t the same as an actual sale. At the end of the day, it’s only really actual sales and happy customers that matter in business.
If you need some help understanding Social Media and how you can realistically make use of it based on the time, money and resources at your disposal, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on +44 (0)7734 722716, Paul @lordlancaster