Thinking of social media as a set of tools (Twitter, Pinterest, etc) leads you down the road of doing a bit of everything, which tends to be a poor use of time. Instead, think in terms of how it serves your business.
There are 4 ways it may do so:
1. Support & evangelism. Reaching out to folks individually to answer their questions, resolve their problems, and generally say ‘thanks’.
2. Trends & understanding. Watching what your customers are talking about and how they’re thinking about you in particular.
3. Driving traffic & sales. Dipping into an existing audience, bringing them to you, and ultimately selling them stuff.
4. Tribes, communities & audience-building. Gathering a group of people you have ongoing access to (generally to sell them stuff later).
Folks get confused because all the tools “sort of” do everything, so you feel like you have to use them all. But if we look at how they accomplish these 4 criteria, the decision of where to spend our precious time gets easier.
For example, if you want to drive traffic and sell stuff, Twitter is a poor use of your time. Twitter audiences are notoriously hard to reach (clickthroughs < 0.5%). But it’s excellent for support & evangelism. Whereas Pinterest is the opposite: it drives 7x more traffic to external sites than Twitter, but is useless for customer support.
In my case, I use email for sales, Twitter for customer support, drinking with industry friends for trend-watching, and nothing for traffic (it’s not meaningful to the current business, though if it was, I’d use YouTube and SlideShare). We’re not on Facebook or LinkedIn or anything else because they don’t really do anything for us. When folks say, “You have to be on X,” they’re basically suggesting that you have to waste your time by blindly flailing around. All you have to do is serve your business and your customers.
The ferry driver, the founder, and the freelancer Next Post: