Should You Say YES or NO to Social Media?

b2b social mediaLast week, I was seated next to a guy at a business breakfast who told me he was embarking on a second career and becoming a writer.  The speaker at the event mentioned social media and the guy immediately stated, “I hate social media.  I know social media would be good to help me sell books but I’m not sure if I can bring myself to do it.  What do you advise?”

The first thing I thought of was to tell him not to spend any time doing anything he “hated.”  But since he himself acknowledged that it would be good for his business, why wouldn’t he do it anyway, or hire someone else to do the work. After all, all of us business owners have to do things that are unpleasant or not in our comfort zones.

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So how does one choose whether or not to embark on the social media path?  Here are some of my thoughts on the subject:

DO participate in social media if:

  1. It will benefit your business.  By this, I mean that it will contribute in a meaningful and measurable way to growing awareness, generating leads or boosting revenue, or hopefully, all three.
  2. You can reach your prospects through social media.  There are still a few industries where social media is not utilized as an information gathering or networking tool.  But do keep in mind that the list of non participating industries is getting smaller since most young workers come into the workforce somewhat social media savvy.  This is particularly true in the business-to-business (B2B) market space.
  3. You have something worthwhile to say and someone willing and able to say it. Many people have a hard time coming up with content and lack the discipline to be consistent social media practitioners.
  4. You have a limited marketing budget.  Social media is time consuming but it is not expensive. It is something that you can start slowly and accelerate as you get more experience.

DON’T participate in social media if:

  1. You can’t find a good business reason.  Although it is extremely cost-effective, social media is time consuming.  And since time is a zero-sum game (you only have a finite amount), there is always an opportunity cost – something else you could be doing instead of blogging, updating, tweeting, etc.
  2. You don’t have a designated person to be your online spokesperson.  Some companies try to split the social media workload but this seldom works.  Good social media can be accomplished in as little as three to five hours per week but it should be the responsibility of one person, and that individual must make it a priority each and every week.
  3. You plan to give it a quick trial. I wrote a recent blog post titled Social Media is a Marathon, not a Sprint. If you can’t make a commitment of at least six months, don’t bother starting down the social media path. Results seldom quickly, but persistence and consistency have a big cumulative payoff.
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