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1. It’s free

Think again.  If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard this little gem I’d probably be gracing the cover of THE RIDICULOUSLY RICH magazine alongside Zuckers and Billy boy. If such a magazine existed.  Which it would, because I’d pay a few easy mill to set it up just so I could promote my own fame and fortune. That would be siiiiiiiiiickkkkkkkkkkk.

In any case setting up profiles in social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube etc are definitely free – that part, at least is true.  The problem is, unless you are Disney, Coca-Cola or Facebook itself nobody is going to actually care.  Well other than your mum and a few questionable characters who are more focused on posting irrelevant spam links to your profile than actually listening, liking or retweeting any of your shit.

Anyway I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume you aren’t a household brand. Or megan fox.  Probably, if you build it they won’t come.  You can set up your profile but nobody is going to magically arrive there without some sort of promotion. This promotion usually costs money.

Even if you can get people listening to you by using existing communications, you need to do something with them once they are there. You need to engage with them. You need to offer value, maybe give some free stuff away, offer some funky games or something equally cool.  You need to provide interesting content. You need to constantly monitor what they are saying to you and about you and respond accordingly.  You need to integrate all your social media profiles together, and with your other marketing efforts.  At the very , very, very least you are going to find that all that stuff will take a shit-load of time.  And time, my friend, is money.

2. It’s easy

Wrong again.  Probably you are digitally savvy enough to know how to set up a facebook page, twitter account and maybe even a YouTube channel.  You might even be able to get a handle on creating a corporate blog.  But do you know how to integrate all of them?  Do you know how to set up a competition to drive a following, how to execute this competition to make sure you are achieving viral WOM – and do you even know if this competition is in violation of facebook’s stringent T+Cs?

Do you know how to monitor what people are saying about your brand and keep updated in real-time so you can respond straight away (in Twitter, 10 seconds is equivalent to 10 hours in the real world)? Do you know when you should respond, or when you might just be feeding fire to the flames? Do you know how you should respond so that you don’t create an influx of social media enquiries/complaints that may ultimately damage your reputation.  Do you know what changes Zuckers is making to page admin rights, or terms and conditions, or profile layouts, or Deals, or applications and every other tiny little thing that he changes for fun every five minutes?

Probably you don’t. And it’s not your fault, because staying up to date with social media is hard. Knowing exactly how to use each channel to effectively reach your customers isn’t easy. Can you get there? Hell yes. But don’t for a second think it’s going to be a leisurely walk in the park.

3. Everyone else is doing it

Social media is so ubiquitous these days that it is probably true that most (if not all) of your competitors are doing it.  I’m not going to lie to you and say it’s not where all the cool kids are hanging out, because it’s exactly where everyone you’ve ever wanted or ever will want to be is at. That is why I’m there. But you’ve got this other business stuff happening, so I’m sure you have a little kudos for yourself, in some (lamer) way.

Everyone is doing social media. Yes. But you cannot use that as your motivation to do it yourself, because you will probably fail.  I’m not saying it isn’t going to be part of your consideration set – it’s human (or business) nature to want to do whatever your competitors are doing so you don’t get left behind.  But don’t use it as your primary reason because in order to do well in social media, you need to understand why you should be doing it.  And this is not because others are doing it, it’s because it represents an unrivalled opportunity to engage with customers and prospects in a much more human way. And it’s true what they say, people want to do business with people. Not faceless organisations.

4. Because it’s another (easy + cheap) way to sell directly to customers

Plenty of traditional marketing gurus have turned to social media as just another newer and more funky channel to broadcast their marketing messages.  Idiots!  Don’t get me wrong, social media can definitely get sales.  However it’s not designed to be a direct-response sales channel (unless you are talking advertising within social media).  It’s much more a retention tool rather than acquisition.  And as I’ve already gone over, it aint that cheap or easy.  So if it’s sales you are after, and that’s all you want to do, you should probably invest your time and money elsewhere.

5. Because you can do it all by yourself

This may be true, but it’s unlikely.  Ask yourself this – do you find yourself bored during your working day, listlessly looking out the window making animal shapes out of clouds? Or seeing how many paper clips you can attach together and then looking up the Guinness records to see if you’ve made a new one? If you have staff, do you see these people engaging in hours of this bored behaviour?

Unless you work in the customer service department of a telecommunications company (where it is virtually illegal to actually do your job and help your customers) the answer to that question is probably a resounding no.

[note:  I was careful to not include spending hours on facebook stalking people while browsing the latest drunken weekend pics, because let’s face it, that is not indicative of having too little to do at work – it is really just a necessary part of living, and employers should RECOGNISE! [please mentally insert Ali G accent to last word].]

The truth is, if you want to use social media properly, and not just create a token facebook profile and twitter account where you occasionally broadcast sales messages to unengaged gumbies, it’s going to take time. A shitload of time. And in all honesty, you probably won’t even know what you need to do to do it well.  So no, you probably can’t do it all by yourself, because you will have neither the time nor the required knowledge.  BELIEEDAT! [poor imitation of Ali G – I apologise.]

In conclusion, you should probably just give up… Or you could hire someone awesome to do it all for you. Someone like me. Smileyface.

Ok so upon re-reading that it sounded a tad defeatist. You shouldn’t give up – you should DEFINITELY devise a social media strategy for your business because it is the way of the future.  There is no better way to engage with your customers.  Just don’t do it for the reasons above.  Because if they are the only reasons behind your motivation to use social media, you will probably fail.  Well, at the least you won’t realise the full potential of social media anyway.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

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