17 FebAre social networks right for your business?

Social Network Connections 2

Social Network Connections

When you’re new to Social Networks
If you’re getting started in social media from a business standpoint you may feel inclined to join Facebook, Twitter and every other social network you find and become active on each. This impulse is good and I would argue that doing so will help you to stay current, relevant and accessible for your customers and in your industry; however, I would offer a few words of caution and some direction for what may not yet have revealed itself to be an rather ambitious task.

“So I put up my profile and friend a bunch of people?”

Uh, no.

Consider that each of these networks are really new forms of communication. They go both ways. Yes they are powerful. Yes you could get great exposure. And yes they can even be fun ways of growing your business. But remember, if you are to use them effectively, they are also work. I know many of you shuddered just reading that. Sorry to burst your bubble.

Think about it…every new network is a new point of contact, a new ‘inbox’ to manage. And each social network comes with it’s own technical learning curve. So without totally frightening you away from social media as a new channel for communication between you, your current and potential clients and your industry as a whole, I’d like to offer a few suggestions about how to begin; because I do believe that in most cases the benefits outway the hurdles.

Focus your social efforts

Don’t try to learn more than one major social network at once. Give yourself enough time to learn one well enough to maintain it and to move forward with it before you take on another. This may be a month or two for you or it may be a longer or shorter process. You’ll know when you’ve got it handled. You’ll be engaged and responsive on that network. You’ll be in relevant conversations and you’ll be expanding your connections all the time.  Just don’t be ‘that guy’.

Engaging in multiple social networks simultaneously can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you’re just learning the ‘social ropes’. There’s a new language to learn, etiquette to grasp and mental bandwith to appropriate.

Here I’m mostly referring to Facebook and Twitter. Yes they’re both very big, very busy and potentially a great place for you to setup and begin building a reputation, a sense of ‘authority’ (I’m not super fond of this term as it seems to be used frequently in a matter as to suggest deception or subverting the natural process of becoming recognized in a giving space, but you get the point) and also a sense of connection with an interested community. Notice I didn’t say audience; that isn’t what social media is about. It’s about actual interaction. Forget that and you’re in trouble.

I would go ahead and grab your username at each major site so as to secure brand integrity, but I wouldn’t actually become active on each until I’m ready to integrate a new inbox and a new community of individuals into my social media efforts.

I know that I just got finished saying essentially “don’t do this unless you’re going to do it right” and now I seem to be contradicting myself, but there’s actually a really simple solution. What I would suggest is that on whichever social networks you’ve decided are less relevant for your intial social media expansion (more on this in another post) simply make a statement that tell people where you ARE focused right now.

Your “Sorry, I’m out” message

It may read something like this:

“Thank you for visiting me (or your business name) on Facebook. It’s important to me that I’m able to respond to you so I’m choosing to focus only on Twitter at this time. I’d love to connect with you there (I’m @JoshuaGuffey) or feel free to send me an email. Thank you!”

It doesn’t have to be long, elaborate or particularly elequant. Just tell them what’s up and where to find you and express an honest
appreciation. I’ll get more into choosing a network to focus on later. Until then, you can go grab your name in the places you think you might setup shop and write a little blurb directing people to somewhere to connect. Even if that’s just email address or blog. At least you’re being straight-forward and making an effort.

Add your thoughts!
I’m sure there are important points that I missed.  What would you like to add to the comments section?

photo credit: marc_smith

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Joshua Guffey

Project Manager at Dependable Data Services
Father. Husband. Search Marketing Professional. Conversion Optimization Consultant. Love Rumi.
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