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August 22, 2012

Don’t Kid Yourself… Social Media is NOT Free

Almost all businesses have embraced social media – at least at some level. Blogging, FaceBook, LinkedIn, Twitter and the others all represent potential weapons in your marketing arsenal.  And we love them for two primary reasons:

  • Reach!  900,000,000 FaceBook users, 550,000,000 Twitter users and so on… the numbers are staggering!
  • Cost!  It’s $0.  That’s right… you can jump into social media in a pretty big way and not have to pay anything.

Well… that’s not entirely true.  While there may not be any out-of-pocket expenses, they do require and can take up a lot of your time.  And for very busy or smaller market research firms, time may be even more precious than money.

Your time in social media will be spent in three different areas… planning, writing/posting, engagement:

  • Planning:  this is the biggest area of frustration and boils down to spending an inordinate amount of time trying to answer the question, “What am I going to write about today?”  Recommendation: take the time on the front end to create an “editorial calendar” that outlines the topics you’ll write about and when you’ll do it.  Think about monthly “themes” to help organize your thoughts.   Make sure the various platforms reference each other.  The key here is consistency… create the calendar and stick to it!
  • Writing/posting: You’ve got the calendar… now what?  Recommendation: block off “writing time” on your personal calendar and work around it.  Do it first thing in the morning… if not, your workday activities are likely to get in the way and you’ll never get around to  doing it.  And once done, have another set of eyes take a look at it.  The key is to make writing/posting a habit!
  • Engagement: That is, in addition to posting content on your various social media platforms, you need to search out other content to comment on.  That is, to start and/or engage in dialogue.  Smart commenting (as well as contrarian or controversial commenting) can help build a reputation and establish you as an expert in your field (Don’t believe me?  Just Google “Ray Poynter” or “Tom H.C. Anderson.”).  Recommendation: The two best places to engage on dialogue are: 1) Industry blogs: to find the tops blogs in our industry, Google: “top market research blogs”  and 2) LinkedIn groups: If you are you not a member of the groups that your clients belong to, sign up today.  Like writing, block off a little time each day to engage in social media dialogue and build a reputation in our industry.

So that’s my little treatise on social media… plan, write, engage.  Do these things and you will be successful.

But (and it’s a BIG but)… to do it well will require a significant time commitment that you must plan for and make a priority.  If you don’t, your social media initiative will start fast and die faster!  But, when you make the commitment, you’ll gain a tremendous competitive advantage over those firms that are just sort of “winging it.”

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