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From the Trenches

Want to Succeed In Social Media? It Sure Helps to Have a Strategy

Will Davis | November 3, 2009

Recently, I’ve seen a lot of studies about the lack of success of small businesses in social media.  In one eMarketer article alone they reference not one but two of them:

Small businesses are not hitting it off with social media, according to an August 2009 study from Citibank.  More than three-quarters of US small-business executives surveyed did not find social networks helpful for generating leads or expanding their business

According to an online survey by Internet2Go and MerchantCircle, 45% of small-business owners use Facebook to promote their business, and 46% have a Twitter account. In total, 53% had created a social network profile.

The article goes on to speculate that the lack of time or manpower may be the biggest impediment to success, but I think it runs much deeper than that.  I think many people think that if you can count yourself as one of those cited above that “have a Twitter account” and “created a social network profile” that you should start to see massive success in social media.

The reality of course is very different.  Sure, like anything else time and manpower is a factor, but I think it’s a pretty small one.  And my view on social media is, either you’re in or you’re out.  If you want to be involved in social media do just that – be involved.  Don’t expect to set up a profile somewhere and the truck full of cash immediately starts rolling up to your front door – it doesn’t really work that way does it?  (Note: If I am wrong, you have done this it did work, and you aren’t required to hide from the authorities in countries that won’t extradite, call me – we should talk).

The fact is — and try not to be too shocked here — the individuals and businesses that have the most success in social media have a strategy.  Social media fits in as a part of their overall business and marketing strategy, and they have a defined social media plan.  Now this doesn’t have to be a 30 page plan — maybe it’s a simple one pager that outlines goals, associated tactics, daily/weekly activity, etc.

You may start by getting your feet wet in social media and seeing what it’s like, which I’ve seen many folks advise as a first step.  Listen first, then begin to engage, then evaluate.  The “Ready, Fire, Aim” solution if you will.  This is a start, but it will only get you so far.  At some point you need a clear strategy, and then you can go and execute against that strategy.  That’s the most likely path to success.

Agree? Disagree? Feel free to share your thoughts in our comments section.

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