Here are a few steps for how to maintain your sanity while using social media tools effectively:
1. Learn the differences, know what each tool is good for
Each social media tool has its own personality, its own community of enthusiasts, its own speed and frequency. Take the time to learn them. Log on, create a personal profile and “listen” for a while. Join groups that are of personal interest to you and watch how people share information. Learn first-hand how the tool is used by others before using it for your business.
2. Stay focused on your goals and know your audience
While social media tools can reach and influence millions of people as they did for the Obama campaign, for most small businesses, this is not the point. Don’t get sucked into the hype and forget your main communications goals. Perhaps you need to find and build a few key relationships, or reach a few tens of thousands depending on the scale of your business. Figure out who & what you’re looking for and stay focused – remember only get involved with the areas that will succeed for your business otherwise you are bringing non-profitable work on yourself – Social Media is time consuming so ensure that it’s working. Know your measurement criteria clearly.
3. Don’t reinvent your wheel
What marketing and communications strategies are already working for you? Don’t ditch these in favour of Social Media just because it’s the Hot Topic of the moment. If you know what works with your audience now, start by figuring out how to achieve similar results with the addition to your arsenal of these new tech tools.
4. Don’t spread yourself too thin
You don’t necessarily need to be active in all places at once. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are the hot spots of the moment, but make sure you know who your audience is and how they take up information. Spend some time figuring out which Social Media vehicles will give you the greatest access to this audience and start there.
5. Don’t sweat it and don’t rush it
Honestly, everyone is still figuring out the best way to use social media tools. The sudden explosion of these tools themselves shows that people are still figuring out how best to use the Internet! Don’t panic, don’t fear you’ve missed the boat and go rushing into something that you’ll have to back pedal on later. Take the time to learn what these new social media tools could do for your business – start small and slow.