Twitter. Facebook. LinkedIn. Blogging. Podcasting. Google Buzz. Flickr. YouTube. Bebo. Tumblr. Jaiku. Plaxo. Hi5. MySpace. Orkut. Photobucket. Audioboo. Ning. The list goes on and on.
There are literally hundreds of social media spaces you and your company can be involved in, so when is it all too much?
There is no one right answer to this question. Different companies–based on their size, resources, industry and personality–are going to find that they have different tolerances for how much time they can dedicate to social media marketing.
Some business owners feel a blog is too much of a distraction while others have more profiles than Jason Bourne. Personally, I think the solution is probably somewhere in the middle. There’s no denying the benefits of social media marketing; increased online visibility, quality site traffic, and increased customer loyalty are just a few of the reasons to jump in. However, if social media is keeping you from doing your job, it’s time to re-evaluate your priorities. Joel Spolsky of Fog Creek Software recently signed off from his Inc. magazine gig and his blog to focus on other elements of his business.
While there may not be one right answer, there is a way to determine the right answer for you, and it starts with your business goals.
Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
That’s right, it’s Business 101. What are your business goals? Is to increase sales? Build your brand? Improve customer retention? Grow your membership? Motivate people to lose weight, go green, or contact their senator?
Without knowing exactly what your goals are, it’s impossible to know which tactics are going to get you there.
Focus Your Activity
Once you have a list of your top 2 or 3 goals, take a look at your social media activities. If your Flickr account isn’t helping you reach your goals, drop it like a hot potato. (Or at least put it on hold and concentrate on other things.) If your podcast isn’t driving traffic to your Web site, put it on hiatus. Ditto with YouTube, your blog, or any other site you may be active on.
Don’t worry that ignoring certain sites may reduce your influence there, unless your goal is influence at that site. Dropping karma points at Plurk won’t shutter your business. Blog comments aren’t sales. YouTube subscribers don’t keep the lights on. (All of these activities may lead to business, and this may be where you should be putting your energy. However, this could be the very activity that’s distracting you from your goal and sapping your energy.)
Recently I’ve spoken to a lot of well meaning people who are treating social media sites like spinning plates, dashing from one to the other to keep them from falling, but accomplishing little else. The best thing some of these people could do for their business is let a few of those plates fall.
Measure Your Success (and Failure)
One way to determine the effectiveness of a social media site is by looking at your site’s analytics. By looking at your site traffic you can determine where your best traffic is coming from, be it Twitter, Facebook or your blog. You may also be able to determine where the best traffic is coming from…the people buying from you, or at least filling out your contact forms for more information.
When you’re feeling comfortable again with your social media activity, and you’re ready to add more to your plate, poll some of your newest and best customers and ask them where they hang out online…chances are other future customers are hanging out there, too.