First things first: absolutely not.
There. Do you feel a little better? Catch your breath, and walk with me through a few of the reasons why trying to be everywhere isn’t necessary.
Your Community Isn’t Everywhere.
One of the reasons we so strongly advocate listening as the foundation of every social media strategy is because it’s the best way to figure out what sites, tools, and channels your community, audience and customers are using. It helps you make strategic decisions about:
- Who’s doing the talking about you
- Where they’re doing that talking
- How often those conversations are happening
- Where the larger conversations are that you want to be part of
If the chatter about real estate is on blogs but not on Twitter, then you can cross Twitter off your list (and yes, even if CNN and Alyssa Milano are there). If there are passionate enthusiasts about green building and sustainable design are on forums and Twitter but they’re not on Facebook, you don’t have to be pouring resources into that fan page you thought you needed.
Use your listening tools and strategies to pinpoint the discussions that are most important and valuable to you, and have the confidence to table the rest until and unless it matters to your business. It’s not about being cool or cutting edge. It’s about being present and relevant to the people who are asking for you.
Human Resources are Finite.
Let’s face it: we don’t have armies of people to deploy across the social web and spend all day in the trenches, chatting away on Facebook and YouTube and Ning and LinkedIn and Twitter and blogs and…you get the idea.
Social media often needs to tuck into our day, much like email and phone calls. We need to answer when called, start the conversation ourselves when it makes sense to do so, and otherwise not feel chained to our desks just in case someone shouts for us on MySpace.
Broken record moment: listening helps with this, too. Once you know where the relevant conversations are happening, it’s much easier to allocate resources to manage your company presence on those sites.
Social media can often become an AND instead of an OR, as well. If we have only so many hours per day to be on our chosen social media communities, it’s a great idea to spend the time and effort to audit all of the other things you’re already doing. Maybe the e-newsletter never took off but the chat on your community site did? It might be time to table the stuff that isn’t working in favor of redirecting resources to the activities that show promise toward your goals.
Impact Requires Depth of Experience.
If you’ve ever been to a professional networking event and have tried the “speed networking” or merely flitted about the room in hopes that you’ll meet everyone, you’ll know that short moments of connection rarely have the impact of a lasting conversation. You may have a business card in hand, but you’ll have trouble recalling the details, or finding that spark of commonality that means you’ll want to reach out and connect again.
So it goes with social networks, which are built on the premise of human touch points through technology. If you’re busy just collecting followers and fans and scrambling across the social web in hopes that being everywhere means you’re more visible, you’ll miss out. As we often say, it’s not about finding people in social media. It’s always about finding the right people.
So, silence that voice that tells you more and more is better and better. Use your listening skills and find the one or two places where you know you can have consistent, repetitive experiences and dialogue with the folks that want most to engage with you. (How do you know who they are, you ask? Start by talking to them and you’ll quickly see.) Providing consistency and familiarity over time breeds affinity. And affinity over time breeds loyalty, advocacy, and all the things you know you want but aren’t sure how to get.
Tools Come and Go
Don’t forget: the tools and sites we’ve come to know and love are almost certainly finite. Nothing lasts forever, most especially on the fleeting and fast moving internet. Remember that your best bet for any social media approach is a strategy that has a solid foundation irrespective and completely independent of the tools you use to get there. In other words, don’t talk about Twitter or Facebook. Learn what they help you do and accomplish, and always seek out the best and most streamlined paths you need in order to achieve those goals.
Put your listening ears on first, and you’ll always be able to find where the discussion and the people are.
So, does that help? What’s pushing you to feel like you have to be everywhere? And how are you applying filters to make sure you spend your time where it’s most valuable? Let’s have some chit chat in the comments.
Further reading – Practical Social Media Measurement & Analysis [PDF 2.8MB]