Is Social Media Dead? No, but you don’t need social media for your business.

Students often ask me: Do I need social media? Generally, they are already in my class and at this point it’s a bit late for them to turn away. Yet, they are often surprised by my response. No. No you don’t need social media. You can still run a surprisingly effective business without engaging in social media. And, if you don’t have a plan for how to do it effectively, then you are better off not doing it at all.

My dear friend Monica Villa said something really insightful to me about social media the other day. She said, that content is not king but rather context is king. She then went on to elaborate that what small businesses and companies need is to focus on what the context of their social media platform is, i.e. what is the conversation that they are trying to start on social media, who are they listening to and what are the conversations that they want to drive in return.

Brilliant, right?

It also made me think a little bit harder about the context that I want to set for this blog and for the work that The Social Works Co and our sister brand SoCu will engage in. The contextual conversation I want to set is the fact that when asked “Do I need social media?” the answer that pundits and everyone else should give is “No. Unless you are going to do it right.” Doing it wrong means hundreds of thousands of hours of wasted time.

Yesterday, I was on the phone with Michael Hyatt who told me that on average people spend 72 hours working per week. For the record that’s 8-8pm Monday through Friday and then half a day on the weekend. That’s essentially your whole life and it doesn’t have to be spent working.

Instead, small business owners, in particular, need to learn how to create and run social media strategies and campaigns that are efficient, effective and strategic. We need to automate the content and its distribution. We need to rely on partner and influencer networks to extend reach. We need to measure and tweak. We need to make social media engagement a part of our employee’s lives and a system.

That’s what I want to talk about and how I want to provide value for for you. In return, I want to know:

  • Is this working for you?
  • Are you simplifying your strategy?

And I want to start a broader conversation about social media strategy: simplifying the rules, creating a social media certification and a process that people can use to manage social media in the same way other industries have processes, established best practices and workflow content.

Do I need social media? No. Should my business have social media? No. Unless you are able to do it in a smart, strategic and timely manner than no. No one needs social media. However, when done effectively social media can improve your business. It just needs to be done right and we, as social media gurus, owe it to you to tell you how to do it in the easiest way possible.

Cross-Pollination:How to Identify Partnership Targets – The Listicle

In last week’s blog post on Cross-pollination, I discussed the idea that you should think about social media beyond your platforms- social media is about the broad community and partnerships can  be a simple way to grow big community quickly. It’s the most underutilized tool to grow your social media channels and your in real life channels. In today’s post, the following listicle tells you how to grow your social media following through partnerships.

  1. Do some preliminary research on your community and ask them what brands they have an affinity with.  This can be accomplished via free easy tools like a poll on your Facebook page, a SurveyMonkey survey or via slightly costlier social media data tools like Networked Insights, or Sysmos.
  2. Once you’ve identified a few brands that overlap – take a look at what you have to offer that company. If you are a large company, money can be a fast and easy motivator towards partnership. If you are smaller, think about what you can provide them. It could be things as simple as a new audience, the introduction to a devoted fan base, your skills as a social marketer or a number of other skills. In short, you are determining what skills and resources you can bring to another business.
  3. Once you’ve established your value proposition (i.e. the good things you can bring to another brand), you will want to reach out. The best way to reach out is if you have a warm contact at that other company especially someone who is already in social and shares your philosophy. Warning: This is difficult (referring to paragraph 1) as most people still think about social media and think only about their platforms. Rather than create community, they are focused on creating more original content about themselves.
  4. Hold a discussion with your new internal contact about how cross-promoting on each other’s social media channels may help to bolster your community, increase the wealth of interesting content and yes, drive sales.
  5. There are a lot of ways to create social media partnerships and they can be as simple as cross-promoting content to as complicated as co-creation, co-advertising or the co-production of a new product. So scale up or down according to the warmth of the relationship, the interest in community development and your experience. It’s often simplest to start small out of the gate and grow your integration after you’ve had a few small wins under your belt.
  6. Set up early what you think a “win” would be i.e. what type of metrics would you be looking for from this relationship and how do you get there. This will help to firmly establish the relationship and to ensure that everyone is agreeing to and looking towards the same end goal. The simplest way to derail your business partnership (in social, or frankly anywhere) is to not have clear established goals that you are both working towards.
  7. Create. Enact. Measure.
  8. Repeat with other new and interesting brands.

 

To make sure you’ve got it, use the below checklist in the process of creating a social media partnership:

  • Research your audience: what are brands they care about.
  • Determine what you have to offer in a partnership deal
  • Develop the warm relationship with a new brand
  • Discuss ideas and concepts for development
  • Set early metrics for success and ensure alignment
  • Create. Enact. Measure.