Some of you probably don’t remember Ross Perot. Long ago, when Presidential debates were still fairly dignified, Perot ran as an independent candidate against Democrat Bill Clinton and Republican George H.W. Bush. Perot had been a corporate executive prior to running for President in 1992, the founder of Electronic Data Systems (EDS), which later sold to GM for $2.4 billion.
As a political candidate, Perot was refreshingly direct. He was also a colorfully distinctive speaker, with a high nasal Texas twang that provided comedic substance for SNL’s Dana Carvey long before Tina Fey ever ran for Vice President. Expressing his opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in the debate with Bush and Clinton, Perot warned that reducing the trade barriers with Mexico would produce “a giant sucking sound going South.”
You may or may not agree that Perot’s prophecy came true, but his Texas phraseology certainly caught the public’s attention. This week’s idea isn’t about politics, though. It’s about another “giant sucking sound” – the imaginary noise made as all of the time wasted on social media goes down the drain.
True Confession: Wasting Time with Social Media
I have blown an enormous amount of time with social media. Like most small business marketers, I’ve capitulated to the latest and greatest wisdom from the sages, and I’ve added a bunch of detritus to the floor of the social media forest. There’s a DP Marketing Google+ page that’s been abandoned property since 2014 and a LinkedIn page that to my knowledge has never been visited by anyone . . . including me.
I should have been more skeptical, but I ignored the giant sucking sound. Because I was convinced that a social media presence was an important part of my marketing mix, I contributed steadily to the blighted landscape of boarded up social media properties.
I’m not the only one though. Chances are good that you own a few decaying social media relics of your own.
Forget social media presence. Think social media strategy.
Social media presence is the vortex that makes the noise. It’s not necessary, practical, or even possible to have an active presence on every social media channel. You’ll get nowhere fast if you try to be everywhere at once. A passive presence certainly isn’t any better – people who do stumble into your blighted properties think your business is also abandoned.
A social media strategy is much better than a presence.
Here are a few questions to consider as you figure out your strategy:
- Where is the audience? You’ll want to choose the channels where your prospective clients hang out.
- What do they want to know? Listen first and gauge the conversation. Then provide answers to the questions.
- How easy or difficult will it be to get traction? It’s easy to create a post or a page, but more difficult to get engagement. For small businesses, direct personal touches may be a better strategy than impersonal company page posts.
- Can I make a connection? Especially for B2B businesses, it’s the contact that counts. The social channels are just the communications media. Relationships have to be developed.
Over the next couple of weeks, I intend to demolish a few abandoned social media properties, and I’ll be refocusing my efforts on listening and communicating over a couple of channels that make sense for my business. I’ve set some goals and created a calendar for content that my target audience should find useful. I’m also going to ramp up efforts to increase direct connections with folks that I’ve met via social media over the last year or so.
Business is a cobweb of human relationships.
Perot said that, too. Whether or not you like his politics, you have to appreciate his clear-spoken business wisdom:
Spend a lot of time talking to customers face to face. You’d be amazed how many companies don’t listen to their customers.
It’s easy to get sucked in by the latest social media trend, but ultimately it’s people that matter. For small businesses, the most practical approaches to social media and other marketing activities are the ones that make contacts, cultivate relationships, and develop clients.
This article was originally published in DP Marketing’s Weekly Idea Newsletter. We send an interesting marketing article to our clients and friends on a semi-regular basis. Here’s the subscription link if you’d like to add your name to the list.