image source: Poloirid Icons 1.0
Efficiency in anything basically means running lean and trimming out the extra fat.
At the university, my new media students learn the concept that “less is more” when designing interfaces for creating web pages. As most graphic designers involved in interactive design will attest to, when you’re creating a web interface, you want to eliminate the clutter. It’s all about visual communication. You want to visually communicate only the point your trying to get across to your user and nothing more. No clutter.
This type of design seems easy because people assume that simple is easy… but it’s a far cry from easy. Telling the story your want with the fewest words is no easy task. (Look at me for example, I’m already rambling with this article!)
Ok let’s bring it back to social media
You have a business. You want people to know about your business. You heard that social media is the key. You start signing up…for anything and for everything. Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Youtube, Google+ …the list goes on. With every sign up, a new account, new settings, a new learning curve, time away from your business, time and money spent away for perfecting your product and servicing your customers.
Let’s trim the fat.
Step 1: Profile your business and yourself.
Figure out what kind of business you have and what your own strengths are. That might help you focus on what type of social media services might really help you. I mean really think about it. Does a mom and pop 99c pizza shop really need to tweet? Do their customers really need the extra media noise of 99c pizza news streaming into their smart phone? And how much can you tweet about pizza, a good deal on pizza, pizza recipes, or best practices in digesting pizza? I know pizza. I know how to make pizza. Everybody knows about pizza. I just want to eat a quick, cheap slice when I’m hungry and in a hurry. Ok, that’s an extreme case, but you get the point. Really think about your business, and customers who frequent it.
Step 2: Start easy and with one service
…or maybe two services, but I recommend one. And I actually recommend Facebook. You’re probably connected with so many people on Facebook already. Create a simple page and ask your Facebook friends to join. Add some pictures of your products or services, and start posting on your new page’s wall. If you need help with doing this, ask me how (post a comment below), but the technical side is another issue. Your wall post can be as simple as a tip of the month, a recommendation, a mini blog post, or well wishing on a particular holiday. Over the next little period and on going, as you deal one-on-one with your customers, personally encourage them to join your page. This grass roots method is always the best for a really engaged and active audience. Survey your fans. Interact with them in other ways, even through email.
Step 3: Test, test again, and perfect your methods
As you interact with your fans and customers, pay attention to what kind of interactions produce the best results or most traffic. Duplicate those types of interactions and eliminate those that fail. As you duplicate the successful ones, you might find that that naturally leads you down a path to another type of social media service. For example, if you’re finding the fans on your Facebook fan page are loving your monthly tips, it might be time to start a Twitter account.
On the other hand you might try a different approach within the same service. You might see, for instance, that you bought a Facebook ad, targeted at a very specific audience, and that produced results. Meanwhile, nobody read your tips on your fan page. In that case, you would stop posting tips and buy more Facebook ads. It seems like such a simple deduction but you’ll be surprised how many people continue to throw time and energy into methods that don’t work for a long time before they realize, “hmm, this doesn’t work”. There’s no magical recipe here. Every business and clientèle base is different. Your job is to discover yours and develop a methodology through testing, not to try to guess at what will work while investing a lot of time in that before actually knowing.
Step 4: Control yourself
Don’t go overboard. Don’t become annoying by continuously pestering your fans and customers with info. Only provide a small stream of valuable, meaningful content. Your customers already get inundated daily with lots of news and advice on the web from so many sources. The minute you become overwhelming, you will become redundant to them and they will tune out. Do you remember that college prof that lectured on and on while you doodled in your notebook from disinterest? Yeah, well, you’ll be that prof if you bombard your customers with too much info. We’re talking about a long term process for sustainability here, not an overnight get rich quick scheme. This works out well in your favour too. It means you only have to dedicate about an afternoon of your weekly time (or even only one afternoon a month in some cases) in managing your social media related campaigns. You might find they’re successful and you might want to dedicate more time or hire some help. On the other hand, like the 99c pizza guy, you might find that you sell lots of pizza to drunk obnoxious college kids on a Friday night without the help of social media thank you very much! And that’s fine too. The social media lifestyle isn’t for every business.
In the end…
Don’t just jump in and start blindly signing up. Start easy, test what works. Duplicate what does work, and scrap what doesn’t work. That’s it. Simple, clean and communicative is what you want to be with your clients in every aspect of your business. Social media is no exception.