It’s becoming clearer and clearer that social media can be an incredible tool for everything from enterprise research to customer service. And as many companies are finding out, social media can help improve your bottom line too.
However, there is a flip side, especially for employees sitting in front of computers at their desks or cubicles: it can also become a distraction. For some entrepreneurs, it’s tough to see how interrupting coding sessions with tweets or browsing the Facebook News Feed can be productive to business.
The reality of the situation though is that social media is just like any other tool: it can make a major impact in the right situations, and it can do harm as a time sink. Therefore, your goal should not be to discard social media, but to figure out how to make it a powerful tool, rather than a useless distraction.
Making a Plan, Setting Goals, and Executing
The key to making social media a useful tool is to have a specific plan and a goal for how you want to use it. Many small companies don't enter the social media realm with a plan, but instead expect tweets and YouTube videos to equate to more traffic and more sales. That just isn't how social media works.
Instead, understand your needs. Do you need more traffic to your website, or are you looking for more brand awareness? Do you want to prevent bad press before it happens, or are you more interested in creating a community that will generate good press? Always pick your goal first.
Once you have a goal, set a plan, just like you would for any other business objective. Make sure you set up metrics to measure success and implement tools that will help you measure ROI. That means tracking clicks with a tool like bit.ly or checking your Facebook Page's analytics every week.
Finally, just execute. Don't be afraid to reach out, make mistakes, and be vulnerable. Even if you make a mistake, customers will forgive you if you're transparent. Just ask Facebook, which has made many blunders, but has overcome them and continues to grow.
Tips for Avoiding Social Media as a Distraction
Social media doesn't have to be a distraction, but you should adhere to some rules to avoid it becoming a time sink:
-When you need to concentrate on an intensive task like coding or writing, close up the social media tabs and apps (and email if you can).
-Many times employees turn to social media when they're bored, so constantly give them work that challenges and inspires them.
-Have a clearly defined social media policy so employees aren't left wondering what's acceptable and what is not. Here are some tips on building a social media policy.
-Prioritize. Sometimes social media outreach has to take a backseat to more pressing needs. know when that occurs.
Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Madmaxer