There are hundreds of social media “experts” promising unlimited income if you follow their simple steps. They encourage capturing thousands of twitter followers and Facebook friends so you have the opportunity to bombard them with unlimited marketing messages. In return, your suckers, um, I mean, fans, will flock to your website to deposit truckloads of money into your account. While some folks may prosper using these attack methods most don’t.
The “build it and they will come bearing gifts” promise is appealing. It is especially tempting when sales are down and the future is questionable. The problem is that social media isn’t a force that drives customers to your door. It is one that invites them to visit.
When you tweet and post you are planting seeds. They have to have the right conditions to grow and produce. Some may catch the wind, scattering their message around the world. Others will swivel and die.
Social media is a perpetual garden. It requires consistent maintenance. Notice that I said “consistent” instead of “constant”. Growing a garden is a process that requires patience. You till the soil, add nutrients, plant the seeds, water when needed, and wait for nature to take care of the rest.
A couple of days ago, we planted our garden.
The soil was tilled just right. The rows were laid off (not as straight as they could be, but the plants won’t know the difference!) from one end to the other. We carefully dropped and covered the seeds. And, now we wait until something else needs doing. There will be weeds to hoe, birds and animals to scare, and watering to do before we gather the harvest.
While we are waiting, there are several things that we won’t do. We won’t pull up the seeds to see if they are growing. When they pop up from the ground, we won’t sit by the garden watching them grow. Our job is to plant them in the right conditions and then let them do their thing.
Your job with social media is the same. Consistently planting seeds and letting them do their thing is the secret to success. Some will grow; others won’t. Staying online hours at a time, planting, poking, and nudging won’t make them grow faster or better. It may even prohibit their growth. And, it is definitely limiting the income for your business.
Because the time you spend trying to manipulate social media is time that could be spent…
- finding new opportunities.
- improving existing customer relationships.
- reducing costs.
- revising your business model.
- relaxing (if you are stressed everything and everyone around you suffers.)
There is an illusion that social media is free because money doesn’t change hands. It isn’t. It takes your most valuable resource: Time. It is irreplaceable. Some tips to insure that social media is working for you instead of vice versa:
- Start keeping track of how much time you spend on social media every day. Evaluate your return. Does the increase in web traffic generate more sales? Are you receiving enough qualified leads to justify the time?
- Review your social media strategy. If you don’t have one, now is the time to develop it. Plant seeds daily or weekly depending on your product or service to insure continuous growth. What is working? What isn’t? How can you improve it?
- Use productivity tools to reduce the amount of time required to manage your social media presence. Plant your seeds, and then check on them periodically.
- Hire someone to help with the administration. It is important that the company’s voice is authentic. Out sourcing or delegating content may not be an option. Creating it and letting someone else do the posting saves your time for other things.
- Don’t worry about the seeds that don’t grow. There will always be culls. Let them go. Focus on the ones that produce so you can repeat your success.
- Tend your garden well. Answer people who respond to your posts in a timely manner. It doesn’t have to be instantaneous, as long as it is within their expectations. If you have a set online schedule, consider posting it.
Social media is a great tool. It is fun to use and can be effective as long as you remember it is a tool.