That’s right, social media isn’t free.
Forget it. Social media platforms aren’t free. If you signup for a Twitter account or setup a Facebook fan page thinking that you will get big returns with no investment, you are dead wrong. Twitter followings and fan page likes usually do not explode overnight, unless of course, you are a incredibly lucky. For 98% of the businesses, organizations, and churches out there it is going to take, what I call, “focused hustle” to make these platforms pay off. Even you build a substantial community (or following) you still have to figure out how you can be an influence, because influence is what ultimately turns likes and follows into dollars.
If your social media marketing is free that means you began your campaign with a “set it and forget it” mentality. You setup the account, made a few inaugural posts, and asked everyone and their brother to like or follow you. Maybe you even downloaded a couple of apps for your phone “manage” everything. If you haven’t done much since, then yeah, social media for you was pretty much free, but it also will be entirely ineffective. In order to see any return out of social media, it is going to first require focused hustle. There are three things that you need to get straight before you can get to work building an effective social media presence for your business, church, or organization.
#1 A Worthy Goal
What do you hope to accomplish? If it as a shallow as something like, “get the word out about my services”, you’ve lost before you have begun. Self-promotion certainly has its place in social media, but it cannot be the substance of your interactions. If every post, every conversation, is about “buying stuff” or “checking us out”, people will tune you out. There is a fine line, but you will never find it if you don’t set worthy goal, something bigger than profits.
#2 Learn the Culture
A vast majority of you already have some kind of “personal” presence on one of the major social networking platforms. Many of you will have several. Before throwing your organization into the fire though, I recommend setting up a personal account for a few weeks (if you haven’t already) and get the lay of the land. Look at how other people conduct themselves, promote their organizations and build followings. In other words, get your hands dirty and learn the culture of each platform. They are all different. Acceptable behavior on one can be offensive in another. For instance, posting 25 times a day on twitter is a lot, but still acceptable. On Facebook, this would constitute “unliking”. Get your toes wet before jumping in.
#3 The Hustle
Once you’ve set a clear goal and understand the culture of the platform, as Gary Vaynerchuck says, “Crush it!” There are two components to the hustle 1) Content and 2) Engagement. Content is the stuff you share: a link to a blog post, a New York Times Article, a 140 word tweet, a quote, book recommendation, etc. I won’t get into what makes great content here, but having great content isn’t all it is going to take to be successful. Remember what I said earlier about talking about yourself all the time?
Even if you are sharing the world’s greatest content you have to remember to engage. You need to engage with people who are responding to your content and be prepared to respond to other people’s content. That means you are going to have to read, reply, share, and thank. Creating great content takes a lot of time, but so does engaging with people via social media. This can bog you down because you can literally spend an entire work day engaging. How much is enough?
Well that is what the focused hustle is all about. The focused hustle is the daily grind, the not-so-glamorous side of social media. It is the stuff you have to do every day to build a community and become an influence. There is no formula. It is all about learning what is effective for your organization and setting small milestones (key performance indicators) to measure your progress. Even though you could spend all day creating content and engaging, most of us simply can’t. You need to daily set some time aside, and treat it as sacred. Over time, with focused hustle, you will find that social media can make a huge difference in your bottom line, but you surely won’t be able to say it was free.
*The next post on the Wevival blog will be about what my focused hustle looks like.