That new social network, WordPress widget, plug-in, app or online doohickey that everyone’s buzzing about looks pretty sweet, huh?
After frolicking in the Flash Demo, watching the video and reading the sparkly testimonials, you just can’t resist that shiny “install now,” “sign up,” or “buy now” button can you?
This is precisely why so many business leaders who appreciate or love technology often get overwhelmed by it. They see something shiny and don’t take the time to determine whether the new development they’ve found is worth testing or just a distraction. OR, even more common…they hear their buddies talking about the latest shiny toy and feel left behind if they don’t go install or sign up when they get back to the office.
I’ve got two words for you…
Before diving into new networks, apps or developments, take a close look as to WHY you’re doing it. Are you trying it out to keep up with professional contacts…OR…are you trying it to “Keep Up with the [Techie] Joneses”…?
To determine whether your latest find might help you or be a distraction, revisit your online communication objectives, then run it through the following checklist.
Will This New Development, Site or Network Help Me…
- Find New, Relevant Contacts -There are over 350 Social Networks out there. Finding a mix that puts you in touch with new people that can benefit you, professionally, can be tricky. If you see potential, try it on for size for a month, then re-evaluate.
- Build New Relationships – Even if you’ve found a long list of relevant contacts, that list is virtually useless if you have no way to stay connected and build relationships with them over time. Will this new development that you’ve found help you build relationships? If so, how?
- Nurture Existing Relationships – As sales expert Jeffrey Gitomer states in a recent video on Cold Calling, “Why not spend the day with existing customers to earn referrals?” Same goes for sales through social media. Yes, meeting new people is awesome, but why not nurture the relationships you already have?
- Share My Unique Content – Content is still King online. However, people won’t simply flock to your content after you’ve hit “Publish.” You’ve got to share that content aggressively and constantly find new ways to do so. You also have to effectively communicate that content’s value.
- Be More Efficient – This is one of the most overlooked opportunities. Too many people think of online ROI in terms of sales, sales, sales. What about the tools that free up your time and allow you to be more efficient, focused and profitable? Tools such as Delicious, HootSuite, LastPass and a myriad of WordPress Plug-ins (heck, even WordPress.org itself) can be lifesavers if used correctly. Warning: Tools that broadcast status updates across 18 different social networks at once may be efficient for YOU but become an irritant to your network contacts. Every single Tweet you write doesn’t belong on LinkedIn. Trust me. You’re only alienating your contacts, adding noise to news feeds and falling into the easy trap of “Broadcasting” on social media. Not the point. (Seriously, don’t get me started.)
- Listen More Effectively – Weeding through the noise of social media isn’t just a challenge…it’s a requirement. Just “jumping” onto Twitter doesn’t cut it anymore (IF that’s a network that makes sense for you). Finding ways to “tune in” to relevant conversations on the networks is key. Tools like HootSuite, Trackur, SocialMention and others allow you to monitor relevant phrases and jump into conversations that can help you form relationships and build online clout.
- Add Value – Value goes well beyond status updates. Value means participating. Adding value should be simple. Someone asks a question, shares a problem or makes a statement. You provide and answer, an idea, a possible solution or reply. If a network doesn’t make this easy in a unique way, buh-bye.
- Sell my Product or Service – Yes, there are a lot of social media purists who will whine about this one. My point here is that if you’re able to sell your product while retaining your relationships online…um….that’s what keeps you in business. Enough said here.
If you’re not sure how to evaluate a new development using the list above, find someone who is. Your best bet is to find someone who can tailor their advice to your specific strategy, objectives, business model and marketing plan. Try to avoid general advice (that leads to “shiny things” discussions). Find a social media consultant, coach or practitioner who can help you set overarching objectives that will keep you focused, efficient and profitable when delving into the social media or technology “pool.”