Social Networking Strategy Counts

Social Networking Strategy Counts:  Failure to understand can be catastrophic.

Many small businesses and retailers have watched the social networking firestorm build around them, and in the midst of trying to keep up decide that they need to jump on the fast-moving train- that left the station long ago.  Most of the decisions are brought on without much of a thought to a social networking strategy and how it can build the business, and in most cases the company message is turned over to someone younger, and in some cases inexperienced-  because “certainly that age group understands how this works”- after all, they live on it, right?

What inexperience causes:

  • “Because it’s there, we need it!”
    • Facebook is the hot medium, we need to have a page:  CHECK!
    • Everyone Tweets, we need that: CHECK!
    • Need to post videos, YouTube: CHECK!
    • People need to read my thoughts, Blog: CHECK!
    • Google+ is the “up-and-comer”, we need that: CHECK!
    • What’s “Reddit”?  Don’t care, we need it: CHECK!
    • Etc…

So there, we have a main site, blog, 50-social pages, a robust dashboard, and a part-time person managing it all with information running 24/7.  We have created the ‘perfect’ social networking platform!… for a schizophrenic consumer.

A social networking strategy for businesses is intended to get your company’s message out in a clearly defined strategic coherence.  A few years ago, I subscribed to the above thought when working for a different company, we had them all including a Buzz page (remember that one).  After spending hours each day trying to manage all of the messages and seeing very little return I began to evaluate.  In addition, seminars attended listening to “so-called” social networking strategy experts (who were really just one-week ahead of the curve than I was) wasn’t that helpful.  Everything but the Facebook and Twitter page was scrapped, including the blog, to go back to square one and define what this strategy should look like and what fruit we wanted the platform(s) to bear- then slowly, other components were added back.

In the online retail world, social networking strategy can be the coal mine canary that the company must use to gain internet-wide attention.  Every site your company participates in contributes important search engine information to build your SEO points.  If your company sells electronic widgets and you want people looking for electronic widgets on Google to find your widget store- the company Facebook page needs to post updates regarding those widgets, the company needs to tweet relevant information about the widgets, blog entries should give your reviews of the widgets.  And so on…  Posting article links for unrelated services to your pages just so you have recent activity doesn’t do anything to promote your product and confuse “followers” of what your business is.