Do you remember that Esurance commercial
with the old ladies who don’t understand Facebook? “That’s not how it works! That’s not how any of this works!” Most companies’ strategies for their online presence aren’t far off the mark from this. They’re throwing around piecemeal techniques and bits of advice they’ve picked up who knows where without understanding how it works (or even the logic behind what they’re doing). I don’t believe that an all-in social media strategy is for all companies. Yes, every business should have a basic understanding of social media outreach and marketing (along with SEO). But the goal should always be to start with making well-informed decisions about their online presence as a whole. Let specific techniques follow from that. Do we really need, as businesses or individuals, to create and maintain a large digital footprint? Nowadays, every company is carrying around the expectation to not only have a competent online strategy, but to be the loudest voice in a crowded room. This expectation often derives from the advice of consultants who are just selfishly looking to create a false need for their services, increase fees, and enhance their portfolios. But just because everyone else appears to be doing it, doesn’t mean that everyone really is (or that you should be either). It’s the modern equivalent of lusting after the Joneses’ new car. Take a calculation based on your household first. I often see companies who buy into these all-out strategies and leave behind a graveyard of poorly maintained, managed, and curated social media accounts filled with a fluster of almost-relevant postings. This has even been the case when a business has a ten-thousand-strong base of followers. Don’t let size blind you. Big numbers of social followers do not inherently equate to company profitability. Of course, the real problem at the heart of this comes from companies operating from a genuine yet misguided position. I call it the “Social Media as New Year’s Resolution” problem. People make resolutions, and, instead of starting with crawling or walking on the way to running a marathon, expect to jump the 26.2 miles with a winning time. The action is taken without creating any kind of sustainability model for the race. The Social Media as New Year’s Resolution problem is another form of taking immediate action without building any kind of sustainable process or approach to social media. Here’s the solution we’ve come up with that has been a sustainable and fruitful strategy for our business: Ask yourself these 4 questions: (1) Do I want to post at all? (2) What are the results I’m looking for as a result of posting? (3) What are the good, better, and best results I expect from posting? (4) How will I know if I’ve reached these goals? You should be able to answer all of these questions (or have a plan in place for experimenting with solutions) before you post. Assuming you have decided to post, this is our system for it: (1) Pick a social media scheduling tool (we currently use HootSuite; there are many flavors out there—find your fancy) (2) Start by scheduling important days, including holidays, birthdays, and other events relevant to you and your fans (3) Build a backlog of content to fill at least several weeks to ensure regular posting (see Seth Godin on frequency) (4) Schedule time every few weeks for refilling the queue (5) Monitor and assess your goals on a regular basis (don’t expect anything exciting in less than six months) Try this. And when it comes to the content itself? Be relevant and purposeful in your posting and your followers will not only grow, they will become stronger and more fruitful from this calculated perspective.