Are you just feigning Pinterest in your social media efforts?

Microsoft Advertising's Pinterest profile via pinterest.com

I thought I’d spend some time on Pinterest to see how the b2b elite are using it. I quickly discovered they are not. At least not successfully. Sure, several companies had profiles set up but they had zero boards or a couple boards with zero pins. This Microsoft Advertising example above gave me the giggles.

These empty boards (along with the social media craze these last few years) reminds me of the time in the 90’s when every company realized they needed a website but didn’t really know why. It took years for companies to use their website as a tool, beyond just location information and business hours. Thankfully we now have sites like this (caution: strong language) to help us figure out our social media strategy, but are you feeling pressured to create a presence on a site simply because it exists?

My recommendation: STOP. Take a deep breath. Then ask yourself the following questions:

1. Can my organization support this?

Let’s be honest. Maintaining a social media presence takes a lot of work. And I think setting up profiles for your company on a bunch of sites and eventually forgetting about them is far worse than not being on them in the first place. If social media is a dialogue, having an unmaintained social media presence is telling your customers and prospects to talk to your hand.

So to start, honestly answer these questions: How committed are you to social media? Is there someone internally that will handle it in an ongoing capacity, potentially including nights and weekends? If not, are you willing to outsource the ongoing maintenance?

Step one is to figure out your company’s commitment and resource level … and adjust your plan accordingly.

2. Where are my customers?

Unlike the field in “Field of Dreams,” simply setting up a social media presence does not automatically mean your customers and prospects are going to come running to you. Instead, spend some time researching where your customers already are on social media or, better yet, ask them! You might find a concentrated effort on LinkedIn, for example, would be better than a name-only presence on multiple other sites.

Step two is to figure out where your customers and prospects already are on social media and focus your efforts there.

3. What’s the point?

The worst thing you can do is to have a social media presence just to have one. Instead, spend some time thinking about the strategic purpose of each site. Start with your company’s strategic goals and look at how social media can help you achieve them. If you want to improve customer service overall, use Facebook to create another way for customers to communicate with you. If you want to establish yourself as a thought leader, share strategic thinking – both original and curated – via Twitter. Creating a focus for your presence will streamline your overall effort.

Step three is to assign a function/role for each social media outlet you choose to pursue.

A diagram of the hundreds of social media sites, as compiled by Brian Solis and JESS3 via theconversationprism.com

There are literally hundreds of social media sites that all offer a unique way of connecting. But that doesn’t mean it’s right for you or your business. A smart, well thought-out approach to social media will be more effective and successful in the long run than just setting up a profile because it’s there.

 

Speaking of, have you heard of Pinwheel? I’m totally an alpha tester.

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