3 Worries on Social Media and Business … 3

I keep running into people who insist that every business, every business owner, every manager, every job seeker and everybody else should be developing his or her web presence. You should have a blog. You have to be on Facebook. You have to be on Twitter. You know what I mean.

Yes, I agree that reputation is important, and that the online world provides a wonderful opportunity to share and validate expertise and build a reputation. I’ve known some and read about many businesses that do very well in online reputation and social media. What worries me, though, are the half truths and lies that so often come with the advice. So, with that in mind, here’s my reality check:

  1. I worry about people underestimating the time and effort it takes to do it well. It’s not a part-time or occasional kind of an activity. You dedicate time to it, or it doesn’t work. And few people really out there running a small business have that kind of time left over.
  2. As you start planning, start with a good estimate of resources. And if you have no idea, I’d start by saying that the absolute minimum time budget for managing a small company’s social media face is half time.
  3. I think that if you’re going to do it today or in the near future, you should try to lever off of existing opportunities, like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, rather than build something new. I’m sure there are still some opportunities for new community sites. There always are. But develop your presence around existing sites first. It’s a lot easier, and a lot more likely to succeed. It takes critical mass to make a social site, aka community, work.

And here’s a final thought: Do you think that online reputation, alias social media, is one of those things you have to either do well or not at all? Don’t throw your reputation into dabbling in social media. And do you think that thought applies to business and professionals, as a business thought, and not to your personal online self, alias (ugh) personal branding? I’m just asking; I don’t know.

About the Author Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Bplans.com. Follow him on Twitter @Timberry. Follow Tim on Google+ Read more »

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  • http://www.andrew-rogerson.com Andrew Rogerson

    Some nice honest discussion about social media. I couldn’t agree more that there appears to be a tremendous amount of hype around social media. My observation is that most of the hype comes from vendors wanting to sell you the latest or greatest or spread “the buzz” when its unclear what the buzz really is.

    Part of the allure of social media is that its free and so those on a tight budget or starting a business that sounds good. The trap to avoid seems to be knowing how much an hour your time is worth. If your time is worth say $30 per hour, you can then review on a daily basis that you spent an hour on social media and over say a month, did you get back $900 worth of business. If not, try spending your time somewhere else.

  • http://www.wecando.biz Ian Hendry

    I agree that there is a lot of hype around social media, but equally there is a large contingent of nay-sayers digging their heels in and refusing to take part.

    Here’s some truths:

    1) The Social Web is not going away. Now we have a version of the web where we can easily share and collaborate with our contacts (be they business or personal) we won’t bin all this useful stuff to go back to just reading pages of status text placed on servers by the priveleged few (webmasters). The web will get more social and businesses need to understand how they will figure in all this;

    2) The Social Customer is all powerful. With access to hundreds of people at their fingertips, and tens of thousands if you count the folks who’ll see the posts they “like” or “retweet”, our customers can now make or break a company by praising it or lambasting it. With the transfer of power to the customer — yes, I know we’ve always said the Customer is King, but they have the tools to prove it — we need to be looking at everything we do from the perspective of the customer and what it means to the customer.

    And this brings me nicely on to business folks worrying about their reputation. Because it actually doesn’t matter if you have a Facebook page or not or what you’re posting to say how great you are, your business is being discussed, dissed and loved across the Social Web anyway and what you post (unless it is in direct response to a comment a customer has made) is unlikely to make much difference.

    The best way to ensure you are maximising the opportunity presented by the Social Web is to build your business around your customers and deliver exemplary service. Because they’ll sort your reputation out for you.

    Ian Hendry
    CEO, WeCanDo.BIZ

  • Ann