Social media is a tool. That’s it. It’s time for the so called “social media experts” to move on.
You don’t see consultants claiming to be telephone experts or email experts. Why would they? We all understand these devices, and their place in business. We use telephones to talk to people, and email to send letters digitally.
But search Twitter for “social media expert,” and you will find thousands of profiles. And a Google search delivers over 1.2 billion results. That’s ridiculous.
Social media is a tool. If it supports your business objectives, use it. If it doesn’t support your business objectives, don’t use it. You don’t need an expert to say that. Just use common sense.
You don’t have to use social media
Ok, I need to make a bold statement. Your business doesn’t have to be on Facebook. Nor does it have to be on Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram or any other social media platform.
If a platform doesn’t enhance your business there is no rule stating you have to use it. And being “left behind” is not an excuse to start using the platforms either.
Lots of companies are diving into social media communications without any business objectives whatsoever. It baffles me. The first question isn’t, “How do we get started with social media?” The first question is, “Why would we consider social media?”
If there are no clear reasons to use social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter, then why invest in them?
Unless your customers expect you to
There is one caveat. If your customers expect you to be using social media, then you’ve got to be there.
Dell found out the hard way what it’s like to ignore disgruntled customers online. Jeff Jarvis’ blog post “Dell Hell” proved to be an incredible thorn in Dell’s side. They had to embrace social media, because their customers were becoming ever more disgruntled with poor customer service and voicing their complaints on news boards, blogs and other platforms. Dell had to embrace social media to improve its service.
Social media has become a ubiquitous form of communication. Many companies simply can’t ignore Facebook and Twitter, because it’s a primary form of communication for their target market.
But a target market that expects you to be on social media is a clear business decision. It answers the “why?” question, and now you can determine the how, what and when.
Social media is a tool, treat it as such
I compare the growth of social media to the growth of websites. In 2000 having a website was optional, but in 2013 you’re not a business without a website. Today social media is optional for many businesses, but it won’t be for long.
The same comparison can be applied to email, text messages, fax machines and telephones. They all started out as shiny new objects, but evolved into well understood tools that we use daily. They don’t require a lot of thought anymore, and we select the tools that fit the job.
The same logic should be applied to social media. You don’t need a social media expert. You just need to select the right tools for the job.
Great points as always, Jeremy. It would be interesting to see the B2B/B2C divide on the value of social media. In the B2C world (not our space), social media is critical, since shoppers are using their social networks to short-list and buy. Payback in many B2B markets is more difficult to gauge, I find.
@Complex2Clear Thanks Paul. I'm finding a degree of social media fatigue. Even B2C companies jumped into social media without a clear strategy. For example, the average Facebook Page posts is seen by less than 20% of the followers. The only way to cut through is to use sponsored posts. As soon as you start paying to distribute content it changes the reason to use these platforms.
Whether B2B or B2C I find ROI of social media is derived from the application of a strategy.