One of the findings in my social media survey from last week was that 18% of the respondents said they were a sole proprietorship. So this raises the question; If you work for yourself, do you still need a strategy for your social media usage?
In fact I would argue that it’s even MORE important for individuals to have a social media strategy than it is for companies. Mainly because if you’re an individual, it is SO easy to let time get away from you (which kills productivity), if you don’t have a plan.
And if you do have a social media strategy, perhaps now is a good time as we head into the Holiday Season, to create a social media strategy if you don’t have one, and if you do have one, to re-evaluate your existing efforts. That way you can hit the ground running as 2010 arrives!
First, ask yourself why you are using social media. Be honest here, and really think about what you want to accomplish by being on all these social sites. What is your MAIN goal for using social media? If you’re in business for yourself, the likely answer is that you want to get more business. So there it is, your strategy for using social media is to get more business.
Now comes the important part; Which tactics will you use? This is where you need to put your time spent on Twitter and Facebook and your blog, on trial. Do you spend 2 hours a day on Twitter? Are you constantly checking Facebook? This again is where you need to be brutally honest with yourself and evaluate if these sites are where you need to be spending your time if you want to execute your social media strategy of getting more business.
Do you spend 2 hours a day on Twitter? Then you need to be seeing business benefits from that time spent, in order to justify spending that time there. And this is where Twitter in particular, can fool you. Let’s say you write a blog post about a topic, say social media consultants. That topic will probably get you a TON of retweets on Twitter, and a flood of traffic to your post.
At the end of the day you can look at your blog’s analytics, cross your arms and smile big at the nice spike in traffic that resulted. But if your primary customer base is B2B companies in the Pharma industry, how does getting a lot of RTs on Twitter about a post on social media consultants, really help you? This is where you need to be careful about Twitter and other social sites. It’s enticing as hell to see your content being shared via social sites. To see the RTs pile on and traffic flow in to your blog.
But at the end of the day, if that content doesn’t reach the people that you want to do business with, then ultimately that time spent was personal time using social media, not professional. This is why you need to put your existing social media usage on trial. Look long and hard at how you use these social sites currently, and decide if the benefits you are seeing are personal, or professional. There’s nothing wrong with using social media as a way to…be social. But if you are spending 3 hours a day on Twitter and Facebook in an effort to grow your business, and are only seeing personal benefits, then you need to either alter dramatically how you use these sites to grow your business, or stop altogether.
Start today by assigning goals to your social media usage. Goals that help you achieve your ultimate goal for social media of getting more business. Let’s say you like to spend an hour a day on Twitter as part of your existing social media strategy. That’s fine, but make sure that you have some way to measure the effectiveness of that hour spent on Twitter. Here are some ideas specifically for Twitter:
1 – X% increase a month in referrals from Twitter
2 – X number of DMs from current and potential customers
3 – X number of redemptions of special Twitter codes
And set goals for all the existing social media site you are using to drive your business. Track your results, make changes in goals if necessary, and stop spending time with a particular tactic if it’s not working.
The bottom line is if you are an individual, you need to have a social media strategy just as much as a company does. Look at where you are spending your time now, and honestly evaluate if that time is best spent with that site. If you haven’t already, set goals for your existing social media usage, so that time will be put to best use.
If you’re an individual using social media to grow your business, do you have a strategy in place?