Business Time - Don’t waste your time

Monday 12 March 2012

Business Time - Don’t waste your time

An electrician friend recently told me I should ensure all my clients are on Facebook and on Twitter because “it’s good, free marketing.”

I thanked him for his insight and returned the favour, but he’d already heard of the wonders of light bulbs.

It would be funny if it wasn’t a conversation that cropped up almost daily for me. Everyone has heard of social media and feel like they ought to be using it for their business, but sometimes the reasoning can be somewhat shabby.

If you’re considering getting your business into the realms of social media, what are your reasons?

If you can identify with any of the poor reasons I’ve listed below, stop and reconsider! Or you’ll probably just waste your time.

5 Poor Reasons to Engage in Social Media

1) Everyone else is doing it

In my opinion, there is no such thing as a conspicuous absence from Facebook or Twitter for most businesses.

You can certainly be conspicuously inactive on that account you set up last year and forgot about. You can also be conspicuously off-message and inappropriate with your posts.

But I promise you no one is checking their newsfeed and thinking “Wow, I can’t believe The 20/20 Group isn’t on Facebook.” They’re much too busy poking, tagging and posting narcissistic status updates to notice.

2) It sounds fun

So does implementing the siesta into The 20/20 Group’s official work day. But that doesn’t make it good business practice.

Ask yourself – honestly – why you’re so keen on the idea. I enjoy when Facebook and Twitter happen to come up as part of my work day, but it doesn’t mean I should spend all day on them.

3) It’s all over the news / business pages

If I was one of the numerous social media consultants to have appeared over the past few years, I’d be doing media / blogs / columns to reinforce the benefits and success stories of this medium too.

When that next article “Why [insert social media platform here] will boost your business” hits your inbox, be sure to check out the author, as they’re often the same people selling these services.

Not that there’s anything sinister about that: they’re usually upfront. Just take the information with a grain of salt.

4) It’s free

That’s a false economy if I’ve ever heard one. What about the cost of your time? Or the opportunity cost of this time when you could be working on other parts of your business? Or the public relations cost of a poorly planned campaign going wrong (ask Qantas or McDonald’s about that)?

It’s not enough just to set up an account and start randomly posting. What will you post about? Who’s doing the posting? How often will you post? What is your company’s social media tone? What’s the procedure if someone criticises you? What topics are off-limits?

Done properly, social media requires planning and time. Each and every interaction and post should be carefully considered – not to mention grammatically correct.

Free? It’s also free to walk down Macrossan Street to Four Mile Beach and back at midday wearing a sandwich board promoting your business. Considered that?

5) It’s a great way to ‘connect’ with ‘the public’

Yes, social media can allow you to connect with the public. But how exactly will you ‘connect’ with them, and is ‘the public’ even your target market?

If you’re an accountant seeking small business clients, wouldn’t it make more sense to get involved with your local chamber or to do some targeted sales calls?

Or are you going to simply use it to connect with existing customers to encourage them back through your doors? Great, but what are you going to say on a regular basis that’s interesting enough to not get lost in their newsfeed?

5 Poor Reasons to Engage in Social Media

1) Everyone else is doing it. Is that ever a good reason to do anything?
2) It sounds fun. Not always a strong business case.
3) It’s all over the news / business pages. So is the News of the World scandal. Is phone hacking in your marketing plan?
4) It’s free. False economy.
5) It’s a great way to ‘connect’ with ‘the public’. Sounds good – is it what your business specifically needs though?

Duncan Watts is a business consultant for the 20/20 Group. 

Want more ways to stay in touch? Follow us on our Facebook page.