Client: “Jason, we just can’t keep up with this social media. It’s too much work and I’m not even sure we’re getting any value from it.”
Me: “Let’s see what we can do to help. Would you send over your reports and I’ll take a look at them?”
Client: “What reports?”
Me: “Your social media reports. The one’s we recommended in the…”
I trailed off at that point when I started hearing my client say, “Ummmmm…” and heard paper being shuffled around. I realized the reports were not being used. I wasn’t even sure if they were being produced. Social media is a great tool, and like any tool you need to evaluate its effectiveness to determine if it makes sense to keep using it.
Fortunately, the reports were being produced and I spent some time going through them. I reviewed the process we put in place for their social media efforts to see what was being done.¬¨‚Ä†The good news was the social media process was being followed. The bad new was that my client’s intuition was right, their social media efforts were not really paying off. When we discussed this, she just sighed and said, “Okay, we’ll keep at it and see what we can do.”
Whoa! Hold on. That is not the right response. See, the thing is if it isn’t working then stop doing it. The team was struggling to keep up with the additional work their social media efforts required. They spent almost seven months focused on social media and it was not contributing to their goals. Overall their social media efforts were just not producing the return to justify the investment.
While I firmly believe it is acceptable to decide that social media is not going to work for your business, their are usually other opportunities and you just need to find them. That is primary reason it is so critical to measure the effectiveness of your social media strategy.
Is there a time to call it quits? There is, and it really depends on your business and your goals. Many businesses keep their social media efforts going full force even when it is clear they are not getting tangible results from it. That is okay because their goals are different (perhaps they believe their brand is enhanced through social media any they do not use it as a lead generation tool). As a small business, you probably have more tangible goals and have to justify the effort and expense.
Instead of stopping all of my client’s social media efforts, the reports suggested some opportunities and areas for change. ¬¨‚Ä†There was evidence that¬¨‚Ä†Twitter could be used as kind of quick support tool for customers instead of for brand awareness. Their blog was also drawing regular visitors.
I recommended that a person with support knowledge be assigned to Twitter and other social networks be given less priority. The support team enthusiastically embraced the idea and has since been posting tips and recommendations on using their products in addition to fielding support questions.
The focus was shifted to posting more content on their blog and and creating downloadable content (white papers and other useful content), with the goals of growing the audience, building a ¬¨‚Ä†mailing list and increasing lead generation. Traffic generation from social networks was dropped as a goal,¬¨‚Ä†significantly reducing the amount time the team was spending on social networks that were unproductive.
Rather than just give up and decide social media is not right for your small business, experiment and see what works. Then focus on the areas where you see opportunities for success. Avoid continuing when it doesn’t work out. Social media takes time, but after six months if you aren’t seeing any benefit don’t be afraid to move on to something else. We’ve since continued to make several changes and adjustments to their social media efforts to find the sweet spot that works for them.
And, don’t forget to run your social media reports and track your progress!