In my full time government job, I converse daily with business owners, non-profit directors and elected officials. They all know they must incorporate social media efforts in order to compete, but many figure it's a job they can farm out to staff.
These leaders devote themselves to things far more important than directly (and sometimes intimately) communicating with hundreds or perhaps thousands of people at a time with social media.
The Daily Record had an excellent article on this ... If politicians 'tweet' they better be genuine. My favorite quote from the article is... "...big name incumbents may need support staff who understand how to manage sites like Facebook and Twitter. But critics say voters want to hear directly from candidates, as opposed to technical aides."
Social Media is Supposed to Be Social - "social" does NOT equal "waste of time"
What people don't get is that this whole process is social. It's about the person doing the communicating - not so much the message. People log on to these platforms to talk to friends, relax, have fun, share a story - not get a commercial. Save talking about your new product, promoting your cause, posting a laundry list of upcoming events, or shoving your latest message out to the public for your website and direct marketing.
Social media is a tool with unparalleled capabilities for bonding, connecting, building relationships, and that is its purpose. How many relationships will you build by having someone else go out and "relate" for you? I can spot fakes and phonies. I ignore them in person just as I do on Facebook and Twitter. I don't even look. I just scroll past the posts. And once you've soiled your social media reputation, it's hard to get it back.
If only I had a dollar for every high-level (in their minds anyway) official or business leader that told me he / she didn't have time for social media - being any more social would be a waste of time. Why do you want to get personal with all those people? Well, because 78% of people will trust the recommendation of a friend before they will trust advertising. And getting personal, creates the friendships that can set your word-of-mouth recommendations spreading like wildfire. One good friend = 4 good paid advertisements. Add it up. What do 500 good friends equal? Do you have time for developing that kind of value?
Don't try and shortcut the process. You don't develop a good friend by getting a follower or accepting a friend request, any more than you create relationships by collecting business cards. It takes time, but the return is and competitive advantage has no bench mark. It's off the charts.
The Power of Virtual Networking
What if you spent a few months using social media for 20 minutes a day - building relationships with your connections, friends and followers - that means listening (or reading) and commenting back on posts with sincerity. You begin to build a network just as you build a network with personal appearances at meetings, trade shows, and events... only it takes minutes instead of hours. You develop a virtual network that is operational even when you're not there, and you can pop back in for a few minutes each day - say hello to some folks, listen (by reading) and comment on what they have to say, and then pass on a message or two. Relationships develop - and your number of friends in the 78% category mentioned above increases faster than you could ever make happen by seeing these people in person. The power of this is unparalleled.
Your social media network is only as good as you make it. And you don't build a network by collecting names or sending someone on your behalf to speak. So don't be like Tony (not his real name), the charismatic owner of ABC company that I see at almost every networking event I attend. He's the front man who interacts with the public - in fact, Tony IS the company to most people ...but Tony pays a staffer who spends most of her time in the office, to do the Facebook Page, blog and tweet. Does he think people aren't on to the fakeness of it all? Tony's surrogate social media efforts are impotent, sterile, fake.. because everyone knows it's not Tony. His company's Facebook Page has a few hundred - maybe even a thousand fans, and he has a few hundred followers on Twitter. But this is the low hanging fruit. There are few comments on the page, not many people engaging. Almost nobody spreading the word.
Wake up, Tonys of the World
The problem is, Tony isn't personally familiar with social media, and the world is crawling with social media "experts" who are jumping at the chance to blog for you, facebook for you and tweet for you. But beware, Tony. If your small time competitor gets her arms around the social media process, she could leave you in the dust wondering what happened in a matter of months. It's happening everywhere.