Social media not always a useful tool

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Last updated 05:00 13/08/2012

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I suspect I'm spending too much time promoting the company through social media, such as Twitter and my blog, at the expense of other parts of the business. How much should I tweet each day and how do I know if I'm focusing on this area too much?

A: Social media is becoming a strong part of any company's marketing, but there is too much 'knee-jerk' attention paid to it, based on little more than the latest hype.  

Like any marketing you want to know what you are doing is working and social media can be extremely useful in this sense because of the capability to measure your impact. You can tap into Google analytics for free and there are any number of online platforms that will deliver stats on your reach/engagement/impact from your activities.

You can learn a lot from free online sources, but there is great value in tapping into a knowledgeable professional in this space to build a social media strategy. The hard bit is sifting out the snake oil peddlers. Check out any local social media clubs, a good place to swap stories and get referrals locally.   

Invest in some early stage analysis and advice. Do read up on social media so you take the basics out of any bill you end up getting from a professional. Focus on getting value, but social media requires investment like any marketing.  

Like all marketing it is a feeder into sales channels like your website, your sales team, or another key deliverables you want your customers to get stuck into.  

If you're not investing in those areas, you're probably wasting your time tweeting furiously.

In terms of whether you are spending too much time on it, there are two ways to look at this. 

1. Listening. You can learn a lot about market trends, competitors, customer feedback and media commentary if you refine your social media channels.  

2. Contributing. You must contribute useful, valuable nuggets of info, through original content, commentary on existing content or simply referring quality content to your followers.  

Nick Churchouse is from Wellington startup business incubator Creative HQ.   

A: Social media is nothing more than a marketing tool to connect and engage your target market.  

The big question is are you reaching your target audience and engaging them with relevant information? What is your rationale for using this channel to reach your customers? Do your customers and potential customers actually use social media for business?

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Social media is about buyer engagement rather than simply building lists. 

If you are not seeing any measureable return for your effort then something needs to change. It could be type of content you are generating, or the way you are encouraging conversations.

Be careful about using social media as a broadcast only mechanism.

Social media needs to be put into balance with all other forms of marketing that you are using. In some cases it can be best or worst use of your time.   

Look at how you are measuring the outcome from this marketing exercise. Some examples may be: key customers reading and referring to your content, people referring your content on, customer enquiries and of course sales.  

Mark Robotham is an SME business adviser. Website: growthmanagement.co.nz 

If you want to ask our experts a question, please email jenny.keown@fairfaxmedia.co.nz

- © Fairfax NZ News

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