Social Media Can Ruin Productivity, Efficiency & Profitability If You Don’t Do it Right.
If, like me, you’re a busy business owner, entrepreneur, family man/woman or just busy living your life, you may want to read this post to understand why I have been consistently cutting down the time I spend on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Linked In and so on, each week over the last number of months. And also why you can do so without fear of losing everything, a common misconception amongst the ‘addicted’ of the social media world.
The reason that social media is no longer a big focus for me is that I run an increasingly busy list of businesses, and they all come first; at least the ‘day-to-day’ important stuff comes first such as sales, marketing, customer service, management and so on. Also, I have a 15 month old son who I am determined to spend as much time with outside of my work day as possible. I have another child on the way in October. And I just like some time by myself to think, reflect, plan. So am I really going to push it and try to find more time for social media like many ‘specialists’ out there would argue? A lot of my clients have said to me in the past that they ‘don’t have time’ to manage social media profiles and I have to say I have been less than sympathetic. My gauge is normally that for a small business, you can get away with 5-15 minutes (total) on social media profiles, per day. I still stand by that and that’s my recommendation, so nobody has an excuse. My argument in this post is simply that too many people are spending too much time out of their day when they could be much more productive with their time. Social media has its’ place, but it’s a very secondary, supportive place.
“Spend more time on Facebook and you’ll get a huge return on investment”?
Sadly, that’s just not the truth.
Add to that the fact that I am starting to get the feeling that social media is becoming less useful as a business tool than it has been (regardless of what ‘Faceboom Marketing’ groups tell you or what Twitter aficionados will push) and I have a compelling reason to dovetail my operations on social media right down to the bare minimum; and here are the reasons I would urge you to do the same, depending on your circumstance and objectives.[hr]
1.) Social Media Is Both Good & Bad For You
Focus on Your Individual Goals & Decide From There.
As a trainer and specialist in social media marketing this may well kill a portion of my business, but I have to be open with my clients and readers, that’s what they expect and demand. Rightly so. I believe that social media and its’ relative importance to businesses in 2012 and beyond is on the wane and this may well continue in the coming months and years. Has social media had its’ day?
Social Media’s Saturation Point
Don’t get me wrong, I think social media can still be very useful for businesses at times, in different circumstances and for different objectives; it’s brought me quite a bit of business worldwide in the last few years, so I can hardly ignore it. The problem is, as with any ‘new’ ‘technological’ form of marketing… it soon gets over-saturated as everybody flocks to get involved and it subsequently becomes massively less effective. I think that Facebook, specifically, is very close to reaching that saturation point, if it hasn’t already. I know that personally I’ve started to filter out a lot of the ‘noise’ around my Facebook profile… I ‘like’ upwards of 300 pages, so how am I ever going to keep up to speed with that level of news without filtering down what I’m seeing to just a select handful of pages and profiles?[hr]
If It’s Customer Service You’re Into, Social Media Is Perfect
I do think however that as a customer service tool, it is exceptional; so if you are a large business that can afford a member of staff to monitor your social media profiles regularly throughout every day, it would probably be worth keeping this up (Facebook & Twitter being the two prime forums)… smaller businesses, truth be told, just don’t need this type of customer service or level of hassle, so I would say just forget about it.
But Give it Up If You’re In It To ‘Sell’
I’ve said this from day one… In my mind, the only worth that social media has, is to build SEO & traffic to your website and to keep your user base updated on developments as and when they happen, thus building user engagement and potentially developing new followers. However, if you want to ‘sell’ directly from social media, I think you’ll be massively disappointed. Unless you’re an international brand, I think you’ll find selling on Facebook to be a major let-down and, more than likely, completely useless to your business. I also think unless you have a large budget or have a real ‘magic bullet’ of a product, you’ll also find advertising on Facebook to be a complete waste of time and money. Just as it can be with Google. It depends on your goals of course, but that is sadly, largely the rule.[hr]
2.) Social Media Does Not a Good Business Make
Forget Social Media Until You Have a Good Business
This is a fairly profound piece of advice but one I have learned the hard way to be an essential rule. You cannot build your business into a great one via social media. It needs to be great at its’ core and once that’s in place, social media can be used to support it in different ways. Social media will do nothing to improve your business, your products/services, your customer loyalty or engagement or repeat business if you don’t have your s’*t down within your business first.
You must have the following components present within your business if you want social media to do any good, whatsoever:
- Great Service – People have no patience for crappy service. Get used to this concept and ensure your service is a) great, b) different and c) better than your competitors.
- Great Products/Services – People will see through you very quickly if you think you can get away with a mediocre product or service at your business’ core. You might make a quick buck here and there but you won’t fool anybody long-term. So make sure what you provide for your clients has real worth, is of a high quality and adds value to their lives and businesses.
- Great After-Sales – This is particularly true if you are a business-to-business company but is relevant to all businesses. If you provide a service or product for someone, make sure you’re keeping in touch with them regularly in the coming weeks, months, years. Not to the point of pestering, but in a helpful and supportive way. Your clients will appreciate this and whenever they think of a new service that they need, you will immediately come to mind because you’ve been so helpful and offered so much value to their lives. Social media can be a good way to do this at times, so bear that in mind also.[hr]
3.) Social Media Is Not Your Website
Forget Social Media Until You Have a Good Website
Too many people make this mistake and use a Facebook Page in place of their website. This is the craziest thing I have ever heard; social media is not a replacement, it’s a supportive mechanism. You MUST have a website for your business if you want to build credibility, visitors and ultimately your business. In this day and age it is more important for ever, in fact it’s truly essential for a number of key reasons.
Without a website you look like a half-baked idea. It’s unprofessional not to have a website and it takes away any clout you may have had if someone has searched for you online. If you have no website, and yet other listings are coming up for your business, like Yell listings, Facebook etc. it often makes it look like you’ve since gone out of business and your website is now dead… “why else would this business not have a website?”, people will think.[hr]
You need to bear this in mind if you are trying to operate without a website. Very, very rarely will a social media profile make it into the top page of Google for search terms related to your industry. There’s just not enough substance on it to sway Google to put major ranking your way. So if having a Facebook page is your answer to the concern of having to pay for a website (get your finger out, tightwad – it’s called an ‘investment’), you’re almost exclusively wasting your time and are being very naive.
A website can never be substituted and should never be beaten in rankings by your Social Media profiles. If you have both and your social media profiles rank above your website, something is seriously wrong with your website. If you have only social media profiles, good luck to you.
Trust me, if you don’t have a website in 2012 you will very probably fail in business, or at least your business will probably operate at about 25%-50% of potential; I truly believe that only a very select number of industries can avoid this rule. You are probably not in one of them.
Focus on getting your website up to power so that it does everything you need it to in order to accurately represent you online… It should be attractive, functional and consistent with your brand. It should also employ effective ‘calls to action’ which will show visitors where they need to go and what they need to do next to avail of your amazing services. And it should be optimised to compete in the search engine rankings organically.
Social media should only be used as a bolt-on to this. So get your website together, make sure it’s optimized and then (only then) consider setting up a social media profile; it is very much secondary.
4.) Social Media Isn’t The Golden Bullet You’ve Been Looking For
Having a social media profile doesn’t make you recession-proof, and it won’t improve your sales or profitability. Social media is a transient fashion. It will very possibly wane on a massive scale in the next few years; just look at Myspace. Please focus on your products, service, team, overheads and structures before you even consider a social media profile or marketing strategy. It’s the same point as above; without a good business and a good team, there is no function of social media. It’s completely obsolete. Your business and your website should be ‘fashion-proof’ and be the long-term focus, whereas social media is a tool to support that, but bear in mind that it may not be in the future.
Too many businesses, particularly micro businesses, believe that social media is the answer to all their problems. It’s not. Infact, it can be the ‘golden bullet’ for failure if you’re not careful as you spend more and more time wasting your day, or that of your team, on social media.[hr]
5.) Social Media is a Great Way to Murder Productivity.
Efficiency, productivity and success will falter if you let social media take over.
If you are into time management, efficiency and productivity, be very wary of social media, particularly for your team of employees, if you are lucky enough to have them. By giving your business a profile, it does need to be managed proactively and this involves time, particularly the larger your business gets. The more profiles you use, the more difficult this is, even utilising an ‘all in one’ platform like Hootsuite.
So be careful not to let social media take over your work day. If you are a sole trader/micro business, spend no more than 5-15 minutes per day on it, absolute max. The larger your business is, the more time you or your team could spend.
Social Media Will Never Replace The Core Values Of Business
Don’t Ignore The Important Stuff
I’ve said it above, but it bears repeating. Social media is fun and can benefit your business in certain ways, if you are intelligent about its’ use. However, it is not the ‘be all and end all’ of your business, and it never will be. It is not the magic bullet you’ve been waiting for and it is quite often a productivity-killer for most people.
Of much more importance are the products/services you provide, the quality of your service and after-sales, the team you have on board, your suppliers & structures of your business and… your website. Get your website in order, it is your home on the internet. This is where people will visit to learn more about you, not some skeleton Facebook page or Twitter profile. If you have a digital product or can sell your services online, ensure that your website is doing so, is ticking all the boxes and making this happen for you – this is how to maximise your business in 2012 and beyond. Social media is NOT the answer, but it can be of help once you have the fundamentals in place. Only then.