How to not engage in social media--sort of like flying without an engine (image by Martin Pettitt)

I’ve noticed a welcome trend these last few months—social reality has hit social media. I’ve always said that social media is just one spoke of your marketing wheel and it finally does look as if this view is steadily being adopted.

If you still can’t make a case for you or your organization to adopt a social media engagement strategy I’ve put together this post if you want to opt-out or do the bare minimum of social engagement.

It Has Been Hyped

Who could blame people for getting caught up in the hype? Just as the dot com era exploded and created new channels of advertising this is and in some cases was the promise of the social communication boom.

The challenge came from an onset of tools, change in dynamics of traffic generation, and new networks that virtually popped up overnight. All the while most small business still focused on traditional marketing efforts.

This has been apparent for a while but recently this became much more clear. I was researching a new space we haven’t worked in before for a new potential client. What I found was that each organization at a minimum did have a Facebook page and a Twitter account, some even had YouTube and Myspace accounts as well. So on one level this showed that this space had embraced the social realm.

Look I’m Here

Embracing a new technology or new way to market is not the same as effectively using this new channel as communication and for marketing.

That’s the key, for most of the organizations I saw while they did have a presence they were not truly using this new form of communication. Most messaging or updates where one directional and a virtual extension of a press release. The few organizations that did have interaction simply were not engaging back. It was in one way kind of a sad to see these missed opportunities although I completely understand.

Most people tasked with setting up these pages or to engage in social media are overworked or too busy to really focus on a proper engagement strategy. Also for most of these organizations they still can’t justify or make a case that the social channel really does affect the bottom line or support the overall mission.

What Should You Do?

I don’t want to make a case that you should be engaging in social media. I would at least as a short business exercise see if this channel of marketing can add value to your existing customer base or create a new vertical market that you didn’t have access too before.

But let’s say you have taken the steps and dipped your toe into the social space and you really aren’t devoting time or resources to the effort—what should you do now?

Secrets to Light Weight Social Engagement

  • Create a strategy to direct people who at least want to connect to you by integrating at least two core channels (Facebook and Twitter) into existing marketing communications. If you promise something beyond simple engagement then deliver it here as well. At least create the channel for the future. I don’t believe these two networks are going away.
  • Put in your schedule to check if someone has interacted with you within your social presence. Also during this time see if you can create value to your audience or target market. Since you most likely jumped on board because you heard you had to have a Facebook page or a Twitter account make sure you don’t ignore it completely. A poorly executed social strategy actually does more harm than good.
  • Sometimes it is lonely in social media—I know not quite social. One secret to understand is that only 1-2% of your audience will ever engage with you. Now that doesn’t mean that people don’t see your updates or engagement points just that this percentage only take the time to engage back. So even though you aren’t actively engaging understand people might come across your updates, so keep this in mind when you do put out messaging.
  • Direct social interactions to other channels right away. Use social media to build relationships and take it offline. We’ve wrote about this before but this is one of the most powerful things about social. Use social media to create interaction and touch points so when you talk to someone on the phone or in person you are like old friends. This is one of the biggest benefits of social media.
  • If you don’t use a channel you still want to have an account for brand and reputation protection. If you can’t find a business need for Twitter that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t reserve your brand and business name. You should and I would go a little further. Set up your account so it looks good and customized but make it very apparent that you do not actively use this platform. For instance, if you don’t use Twitter  reserve your name and account and put in your bio that you don’t actively use Twitter and provide another way to contact you.

While these tips still contain elements of you engaging it’s important that you do recognize that the social engagement channel is not going away and have to take more of a brand protection role. Social media does still have to mature in some aspects if you aren’t ready or simply don’t see the need to engage what I’ve outlined will at least ensure you have the bare minimum in place.