Before joining any social media sites, people or organizations must ask themselves two main questions.
What is my main purpose for using social media?
Always have a reason for doing something. Don’t do it just to do it or just because everyone else is doing it.
Individual people have it easy. They are often on Facebook or Twitter or some other site to meet new friends with similar interests, be entertained, re-connect with old friends, stay updated on family members and friends, etc. But organizations small and large must do a bit more “soul-searching” before joining a social media site.
An article on emarketer.com recently shared survey results that explain why certain businesses use social media sites.
These are some reasons U.S. companies use social media, with increasing awareness and interaction (building relationships) topping the list. Whether you’re a huge corporation or a single individual, the building relationship component is essential. That’s where the “social” in “social media” evolved from — building relationships both online and off.Do I know what I will do on social media?
So, you’ve done a bit of research and you think your personal or business brand would benefit from communicating with customers through a Facebook page or a blog. Great. But how do you manage that presence? Do you need to immediately become a leader in your industry’s social media communities? Most certainly not. In fact, you may not ever need to become a “leader” among your online friends and many corporations have noted that. The same emarketer.com article listed above also had information about how companies use social media.Only 10% consider themselves thought leaders in their industries. That shows most companies understand you aren’t expected to jump in to social media and immediately be considered an expert. You don’t have to get rid of all your advertising and only use Facebook and Twitter to share information. But you do have to understand what tactics work best to reach who you’re trying to reach.
You should also understand that you can use social media in many more ways than participating or becoming a thought leader. Social media sites provide an awesome (and, most of the time, free!) marketing research tool. It’s OK to take it slow and to just use social media to observe what’s going on and what people are saying (and how they’re saying it).
When I interned at Corning Inc., I was pretty new to Twitter but monitoring the company on Twitter became one of my daily routines. I learned there tended to be a core group of about five or 10 people who tweeted somewhat frequently about the company, sometimes even in a different language. This experience helped me and the company understand how others viewed Corning from the outside and I know it has helped many, many others.