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Being active on social media is a must for any entrepreneur, right? Well, despite the common assumption, I believe there’s a strong argument that nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact, startups and established businesses alike are throwing away countless hours diving down rabbit holes with little to no return on their investments.
Every serious business owner knows that time is money. If you’re looking to make better use of that ever-so-precious, intangible commodity, it may make sense for you to take a step back and ask yourself if you’re guilty of wasting countless hours with unnecessary social media endeavors.
Let me be clear, social media can be a great way to engage with people and reach out to new prospective customers. And for some startups, it can be a huge benefit to building brand awareness and driving sales. It just isn’t needed on every platform and to the extent that so many business owners might assume, and depending on your industry, can be a drain on your precious time and focus.
Social Media Management vs. Social Media Marketing
The first thing each business should consider is the fact that there is a considerable difference between having a strong social media presence and using social media to actively pursue new customers.
Every business can certainly benefit from having a basic social media presence. This is what I’ll call social media management.
Social media management, more or less, means having a fully completed profile on the most popular social networking websites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+. The profiles should be complete with all of the recommended visuals and have content that at least makes it clear that the business is active.
Having these profiles provides backlinks. Having as many quality links as possible that point back to your business’ website is always an important factor when attempting to optimize your website to perform better in search engine results. Additionally, ongoing social activity can provide search engines with what many refer to as “social signals.” The activity on your social media profile may give reason for a search engine to further index your business in the search results and include things like your latest tweets, thus, furthering your business’ exposure. Lastly, posting content from time to time shows that the business is active, providing confidence and opportunities for those who are seeking you out to connect.
Social media marketing, on the other hand, is the active pursuit of new customers by utilizing social media. In some cases, this involves creating an advertising campaign using a demographically targeted ad platform on social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter. Each of these social networks lets the advertiser design their own ads and then hone in on the demographic they want to reach.
All of that is fine and necessary for most businesses, but the part many entrepreneurs find themselves guilty of is the production and consumption of pointless social media posts.
Do you really need to be making new connections on LinkedIn? Is that Facebook post you made really going to help your business? Do you really need to tweet about that? I challenge you to think about all of those questions after considering the points below.
No Two Industries or Businesses are Alike
There is a major difference between a microbrewery and an insurance agency. That goes without saying. Does a microbrewery have any potential benefit by tweeting that they are introducing a new beer and have a special tonight? Of course! A post like that may very well engage repeat business and attract first-time patrons. Does the insurance agency gain any benefit by tweeting that today they worked on writing a new policy for someone in the neighborhood? The answer to that question is, probably not.
As you can see, the inherent value that specific social media outlets have for some industries, compared to others, is easily distinguishable. While it may seem like common sense, countless businesses spend time putting up posts just because they assume they need to do so consistently. That time could have been better spent picking up the phone and calling a prospect or existing customer.
Facebook Throttles Content Delivery
The more often you post stuff on Facebook, the less of a chance that it will engage your entire audience of followers.
Facebook says it has an algorithm to determine what it thinks your audience will like, and thus chooses who sees and doesn’t see the content that you post. While that may be true to some degree, it doesn’t take a programmer to understand that the algorithm involves little more than the simple fact that Facebook makes money when they force you to boost your posts to reach a wider audience. Have you ever noticed that the more frequent you post the less people in your audience see the material? You getting addicted to posting content and helping crank up the number of people who see it is part of their business model.
So, why waste time with pointless posts? Do I really need to know what you ate at your business dinner last night? Is endlessly scrolling and liking similar products or services really going to help convince me that I should be working with you? Are your scheduled posts that give me miniature factoids and tidbits really going to result in anything more than an occasional like? Think about it.
Not all Social Media Outlets are Created Equally
Each social network serves its own specific purpose. Unfortunately, this simple fact is often disregarded and thus this becomes one of the primary reasons so many businesses waste time.
For example, Twitter is made for small content blurbs to distribute thoughts to people who want to hear from you whereas Facebook is designed to allow friends to communicate and share digital content. Just because people use a social network doesn’t mean you need to be an active, or worse, a time-wasting, overactive contributor. At the end of the day there is an awful lot of demographic overlap between each social media outlet and using the ones that best fit your business is what’s most important.
5 Tips to Help Block out the Noise
1. Prioritize Social Media Channels
We already touched on the fact that every business is different. Rank the priority you believe each respective network should have and perhaps eliminate some. For example, a restaurant may rank their priorities as follows: Yelp, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+. A boat tour company may be more along the lines of: Facebook, TripAdvisor, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. You need to think the way your customers think and engage them where they are.
2. Always Have a Clear Goal in Mind
What is the purpose of this post? What am I really trying to achieve? These are the questions we should be asking ourselves every time we are doing something. If it isn’t clear, chances are it is a waste of time.
3. Consider Return on Investment
ROI is always an important factor when making a sound marketing decision. Social media shouldn’t be treated any differently. If you have a fixed marketing budget, consider what you are actually getting when you either pay someone to manage social media or choose to invest time into managing it yourself. If you’d be getting more out of doing traditional advertising, why not just do that?
4. Ditch the ‘But Everyone’s Doing it’ Mentality
Business owners are leaders. Make a stand and trust your gut. Don’t cave into peer pressure and assume that just because Joe the insurance agent abuses the heck out of Twitter that you need to as well.
5. Develop a Plan and Use Tools to Save Time
Develop a prioritized social media plan based around your goals and use a third party tool to help organize it all. Companies like HootSuite allow you to pre-schedule content posts and automate your social media postings to hit multiple outlets. This allows you to focus, get it all done, and move on until the next week or month so you aren’t mentally fragmented.
I hope these tips help you break the endless scroll curse and allow you to squeeze a few more hours out of that ever-important workweek. While social media can provide businesses with a great deal of benefits, it certainly isn’t a one size fits all concept that equally benefits all businesses. The most important thing to remember is to be goal oriented. Every post conducted by a business should be done with a strategic purpose. Prioritize the social media channels you use and opt to participate lightly or automate those that aren’t as important.
Tell us what you think. Are you an endless scroll abuser looking to break the curse? Or a social media true believer?