If you work at a company and are passionate about social media, and passionate about getting your company to use social media, then you are probably spending a lot of attention to the supposed social media experts. The most influential bloggers and Twitter users. The ‘rockstars’.
Here’s 5 reasons why that’s probably not a good idea.
1 – Social media experts gravitate to shiny things. If you are active on Twitter especially, then you have probably heard about the shiny social media site of the moment; Quora. Quora is basically a Q&A site that despite having functionality similar to most other Q&A sites, seems to suddenly have everyone buzzing.
The problem is, ‘shiny’ doesn’t always equal ‘useful’ when it comes to social media for companies. What you should do with Quora is monitor company mentions. You should already have a monitoring system in place (even if it’s just Google Alerts, which you can set up in 5 mins), and this will let you track company mentions on Quora and other sites.
With most ‘shiny’ social media sites and tools, it’s best to be aware, but to not jump in headfirst. Why? Because often the ‘buzz’ around a shiny social site is driven by hype more than utility. In general, it’s best to let the hype die down then see what happens. If the value is there, people will stick with it.
And before anyone comments, I am not slamming Quora. I have plenty of friends that love the site, and to be honest, I have barely spent an hour with it. My only point is, I tend to tune out and wait when I see sites like Quora suddenly getting super-hyped. I did the same thing with Identica and Kwippy, and yes, even Twitter.
2 – What works for social media experts might not work for your company. Most social media experts will tell blogging companies that they must have as many comments as possible. That interaction and engagement is all that matters. They probably get a bunch of comments on their blog, so they tell companies they need comments as well.
Guess what? Most companies could give a rat’s rump if they ever get a comment on their blog. They want LEADS and BUSINESS from the blog. But most social media experts have difficulty explaining how companies can get leads and business from their blogging efforts, so they talk about things they know: such as getting comments and RTs.
3 – There is no one-size-fits-all solution to social media. Twitter is the textbook example of this. I have literally changed the way I use Twitter a dozen or more times in the last 4 years. I used to follow more people than followed me. Then I followed almost no one, now I follow anyone that interacts with me on Twitter, or that I have met.
The point is, there are few, if any, social media rules that apply to EVERY company’s efforts. For example, many social media experts will say that a blogging company should try to blog every single day. And at minimum, they should write 3 new posts a week.
And confession time, I used to think this as well when I started blogging almost 6 years ago. The a funny thing happened: I started getting so busy with consulting work that I couldn’t blog every day. I had to make the choice between blogging every day, or working on client work every day. Guess which one won?
The solution is: Pick a posting schedule that works for YOUR situation. My best advice is to pick a schedule that you can stick with. If you *think* you can write 2 new posts a week, start out shooting for once a week, then build up to 2 a week if you can.
4 – Social media experts often write for each other, not for companies. How many times have you read a well-known social media person write a blog post or a tweet just ripping another well-known social media person? It happens far too often. So why does it happen? Because almost every time there is an ‘I’m calling bullshit on…’ post, it gets views. And comments, and RTs. And traffic.
But does it get them business? Maybe it does, but the next time I hear a social media consultant tell me they got a project because they ripped one of their peers, will be the 1st time. But I often hear of companies that have specifically NOT hired an expert or consultant based on something they said online. Good manners matter, and no amount of RTs or pageviews or comments make up for a lack of civility.
5 – Social media experts are using social media in a way that works for THEM. One person. So obviously, attempting to mimic the way one person uses social media and applying it to the social media efforts of a Fortune 500 company, might not be the best course of action.
This is not to say that you can’t learn from how the experts and thought leaders are using social media. Because you can, and yes I am being slightly self-serving when I say that. But you should never assume that you should use social media in a certain way, simply because someone you read or follow, does. Maybe their method for using a particular site or tool can work for your company as well, but you shouldn’t blindly adopt using the site or tool the same way simply because that’s how they do it.
Don’t blindly adopt, but don’t blindly dismiss either
Your company should be aware of what the leaders and experts in this space are saying and doing. But you shouldn’t do anything simply because they are, nor should you dismiss their methods simply because you believe that ‘social media experts’ are all ‘snake oil salesmen’. Look for trends, ways that most of the leaders in this space are using social media, or what they are teaching, and look critically at their lessons and if they can apply to your company’s efforts. Don’t view them as a ‘cheatsheet’ for using social media, but rather as another resource for your company.