Social media is hard.
Unless you have money.
Heaven knows you don’t have to be remarkably intelligent, witty, or engaging to be successful. Of course, these things help – and are likely a requirement if you intend to make any money at it – but mostly you have to be available and willing to work at it.
The back story: I buy the URL and set up this site after I was laid off from my last job. I had time to burn and decided to jump in and play in this social media sandbox. I didn’t expect much from it – just felt like it was a good time for me to fool around and learn about the environment. Of course, I immediately start working a paying job and forget all about this little experiment.
Smash cut – six weeks later and I’m working with Delta Partners, a boutique Management Consulting firm that is well established here in Ottawa. My first assignment – bring a social media strategy to our site.
Hey look at me everyone – I’m a Social Media Consultant!
But then you probably are too. Seems most everyone who has a twitter account and knows that you capitalize the “i” in LinkedIn is.
And here it comes…
“All you have to do is…”
My colleague Peter Degosztinyi turned me on to this one, and he’s bang on.
All you have to do is: start a blog, start a twitter account, make sure your LinkedIn profile is complete and you are building your bench, be a thought leader, participate in the conversation, be a trust agent, have a corporate facebook page, build a listening post, track your KPI’s, and wait for the money to roll in.
Of course few will tell you how to execute on the tactics behind the overarching strategy or how much sleep you can expect to do without along the way. Hey, don’t be a buzz kill – I’m evangilisin’ here.
the real experts tell us
The point to all this rambling: I attended the OCRI Zone5ive (how hard is that to type?) meeting today titled “Social Media Marketing Experts Reveal All”. Naturally, as an expert, it was critical that I attend to reveal all of the mistakes that these misguided souls would try to sell. Jokes aside, it was an excellent panel:
- Michele Bedford Thistle :Enterprise Marketing Manager – Public Sector, Microsoft Canada
- Erin Blaskie – @erinblaskie :Founder, Business Services, ETC
- Scott Lake – @scottica :Serial Entrepreneur and Founder, Shopify and Swix
All three were far more articulate and intelligent than I could ever hope for. They know their stuff and they were happy to share their experiences in using social media to build a successful business – for that I am grateful.
And to show my gratitude, I got to ask the last question of the day, “This is for all three of you: can you tell us how many hours per week you spend on this stuff?” I had no fewer than six people tell me that I asked a great question. Clearly this is an issue that people are wrestling with.
Scott said, “I have found that the new smart phones really let me be productive when I’m away from the office.” I heard, “There are few moments in my day that I’m not thinking about, reading or creating tweets. I do it all the time.”
Michele said, “I don’t spend more than two hours per week on this.” I heard, “I work for a gigantic corporation with cash and lots of resources.”
Erin said, “I’m on the Internet 14 hours per day.” I heard, “I have never been on a run of 27 straight days of 3am feedings. I do it all the time.” (sidebar: this is about to change, congrats Erin!)
My takeaway after chatting with some other attendees: social media marketing is effective when it is done right. But. It is still marketing. Unless you are a fully committed entrepreneur or are young with lots of creative energy and no serious commitments, you can expect to spend your marketing dollars on this activity. It isn’t free – even if many of the tools are. The resource commitment is real. You want to participate in the conversation? It’s going to be time intensive.
And most people still prefer to be paid for their time.