Today I’m going to take on a topic that may not be altogether popular in some social media circles, but it’s a message that small business owners need to wrestle with.
Like me, you are probably sick of hearing about twitter like it’s the next coming of Sidd Finch. Social media experts will have you believe that if your business is not on twitter for hours each day, then you don’t exist.
Here’s my take, I use twitter to meet a handful of objectives, I try to write about it in practical ways, I enjoy some of the interaction, get some nice insights, get decent return on the time I spend, but it’s not for everyone, not right now at least, and here’s why.
While the odd restaurant or coffee shop may be grabbing some headlines because of their tweeting strategy, most small businesses have far greater pressing foundational needs when it comes to the limited time and resources they can allocate to marketing.
- Do not bother with twitter or Facebook or any other social networking tools right now unless:
- You have perfected a simple point of differentiation that a narrow market truly values and gets
- You have a killer white paper that clearly demonstrates your 7 steps to blah, blah, blah expertise
- You have built relationships with 5 journalists that routinely call you for quotes and tips
- You are presenting workshops, seminars and web conferences based on white paper above
- You have a roster of strategic partners that you automatically refer and who refer you
- Your web site/blog is chock full of education based content, articles and tutorials
- You have a fully scripted/automated lead conversion process that you can measure
- You have a marketing action plan and action step calendar that is focused on marketing objectives
I know the fun is in the new thing of the moment, but spending your precious time on something like twitter is likely a giant waste of time for your business if you have not build the foundation that can tap social networks as outposts for your marketing hub.
Now, to some this message may actually be refreshing, so let me throw a little cold water. I am not saying that social networks are on their own waste of time as an essential marketing activity, far from it. My real message is that social networks, including twitter are growing in importance for small business, but hold little value to the business that has not built a strong marketing foundation.
This message gets confused when people see social media gurus, some with thousands of followers and nothing but time on their hands to tweet all day, stand up and condemn those not yet in the twitter fold as somehow strangely out of touch. Here’s your test – follow the tweets and see if you find any cattle before you succumb to this line of thinking. Some of the largest advocates of social media have no real foundation, no return on their tweets, and little business, other than the occasional speaking gig at a social media lovefest – and that should be your warning to keep your eye on the real prize – your business objectives.