Last Friday’s post on the surprisingly small proportion of businesses with active online profiles came at a time when we were finally sorting out a social media challenge of our own.
In a clear example of the shoemaker’s children going barefoot, we’ve had to scramble over the last couple of years to keep up our own presence on social media. Our blog is usually up to date, and we try to keep it alive with original, thoughtful content. We’re active on Twitter. We’re showing definite signs of life on LinkedIn (you can like our page here). Facebook is pretty much dead to us (and we know we’re not alone).
But when it comes right down to it…our clients’ deadlines come first. As they should.
So when we began to hear about Google+ as a powerful tool for building community, gathering information, and boosting our search ranking as online authors, we listened. We marvelled. And for a long time, I resisted taking action because I didn’t think we had the bandwidth for one. More. Platform.
Our Big Move to Google+
For our content and social media team to have a face-to-face conversation, the distance we have to travel is either quite long or very short. Jenise Fryatt, our social media strategist, is based in Big Bear, California. Karen Irving, our social media advisor, is in Ottawa, and so am I. Karen and I are also married to each other, so our conversations about company strategy often take place in the morning, while we walk our dog by the Rideau River.
Which means the dialogue goes something like this:
Karen: We could really boost our search engine performance and extend our reach if we were more visible on Google+. (By which she meant: We’ve been talking about this for weeks. Can we please get on with it?)
Mitchell: It’s on my to-do list, just behind [fill in today’s client deadline]. (By which I meant: If I have to add one more new social media platform to my to-do list, the list will break.)
Maydeleh the Wonder Dog: When you’re through talking about work, again, I think I’m ready for my morning treat. (This segment of dialogue is not guaranteed verbatim.)
There was one crucial piece of the story that I was missing. (And Maydeleh wasn’t telling.) Karen wasn’t asking me to set aside my other projects to become a Google+ maven. She was offering to build up that part of our online presence, using the knowledge she’d gained with the page she’d developed for another blog that she co-manages.
She opened our Google+ page in early January. Our analytics picked up the impact within days. They’ve been getting better, then better still, all month.
And somewhere along the way, we realized that we’d failed to follow our own best advice.
Staffing As If Social Media Mattered
For months, we’ve been making the case that social media and content marketing are too important for organizations to let them get done by accident.
In blog posts, public presentations, and client meetings, we’ve railed against the old, bad practice of assigning social platforms to the intern, to get the work done over a lunch hour. We’ve talked about the importance of strong cornerstone content and the journalism traditions that help content marketers deliver it.
The common thread is the need to invest the right resources to get the job done.
But when the time came to allocate or reallocate some of our own resources, it took me longer than it should have to do the right thing.
I’m telling this story because it’s given me a clearer understanding of the thought processes our clients go through—and the competing priorities they probably have to sort out—when we try to advise them on content and social media strategy. But the most recent part of the experience tells me that the advice has been sound.
If someone in your organization has the skills, interest, and mix of expertise to properly manage your social media presence, you do more harm than good if you skimp on the hours they need.
If your in-house team is already tied down with 28-hour days and eight-day weeks, that’s what outsourced social media managers are for.
Either way, it’s self-defeating to treat social media as a free channel, then expect breakthrough results. That breakthrough is the reason you have a social media manager, and it’s well worth the effort to do the job right.