I get it. Social media is sexy. Everyone’s talking about it. Twitter “hashtags” are on the news and “Like us on Facebook” graphics are on every brochure. In fact, there’s probably even a “social media expert” on stage somewhere showing people how to tweet as you read this article.
But let’s take a step back. What is social media really, and what role should it play at your company? How important is it?
First, let me say that I’m a believer in social media. I use it daily and have met people near and far using Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. And yes, some of those relationships turned into real, revenue-generating business.
In fact, just a few weeks ago, I wanted to get into a Fortune 100 company. The problem was that I didn’t know anyone there. So what did I do?
I went to LinkedIn.
I did a quick search that took me no longer than 30 seconds. That search pulled up a long list of contacts within the target company. I contacted the first person with a personalized message and waited for a reply.
Less than a week later, I got one.
A week after that, I was sitting down with him talking business.
Wow! Social media is powerful!
But, social media doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s merely a tool to connect with people. What you do with those relationships is up to you and requires a comprehensive approach.
THE FOREST FOR THE TREES
Today, we need to think differently. It’s not enough to just have business cards. It’s not enough to just have a website. It’s not enough to just be on social media. It’s about all of those things working together.
Simply put, social media is just a piece of the puzzle. Alone, it’s not going to grow your business.
I know. It’s so easy to lose sight of the big picture and get mesmerized by the shiny, something-is-always-new technology that’s all around us. But the big picture is exactly where we need to start.
For that, let’s reference the “Bicycle Wheel of Business.”
Envision a bicycle wheel. Your “message” and website are the hub in the center. The spokes of the wheel represent social media, email marketing, traditional marketing, search and anything else that drives people to your business.
Without the hub, the wheel breaks. Without the spokes, the wheel breaks. Don’t let your business break.
Social media, while often in the limelight these days, is simply a spoke on the wheel. It’s a tool to help you find and connect with people. It’s not the end-all-be-all of your business.
WHAT’S YOUR MESSAGE?
Quick, in three seconds, why should I care about your company?
What makes you different? Unique? Memorable?
Hint: It’s not that “your people make the difference” or that you have “superior service.” Everyone says that.
Surprisingly, most businesses can’t answer this question. And, as a result, their efforts on social media are haphazard and wandering. They don’t know what to post because they don’t know who they are.
Even worse, they usually give up after a few months because they’re not seeing results. Some persevere and sign up for classes taught by so-called “social media experts” that don’t see the big picture nor do they practice what they preach. Remember, anyone can call himself or herself an “expert.”
In the end, and perhaps not surprisingly, those classes often leave attendees more confused than when they started. The cycle continues. Sound familiar?
There’s no doubt about it. Social media is an increasingly important part of any business. It can’t be ignored. I rely on it.
But, it’s just a tool. Use it to execute the bigger picture and communicate what makes your company special. Otherwise, you’re wasting your time.
Jeff Teschke is founder of Forge3 Ltd., an award-winning Lehigh Valley firm offering education, products and services to build business and live life. Learn more at www.forge3.com.