Social media for business: Worth your time or waste of time?

Recently I had a terrific, stimulating discussion with Debra Yearwood of CommStorm about how clients often want to talk about social media.

Now, I love social media for connecting people and raising awareness of social causes, which I use to help organizations with fundraising and promoting events on tight budgets. But if you’re counting on it for business, you have to make sure the ROI is worth it.

It may seem free but at the very least it costs time, and that’s a very valuable resource. (Time is pie!) To make your messages stand out among the millions shared every day, you can boost your posts for a price, so it can have a financial cost as well.

Having thousands of followers may sound great, but how many of them become paying customers? You need quality, not necessarily quantity – think “qualified leads” who are a few steps closer to giving you their business.

Social media can:

  • Add to your credibility (you need a social cyber footprint now, much like you need a website – the Yellow Pages died in the last century)
  • Help your potential clients find and become familiar with you, thus generating new leads (we’re much more likely to work with someone we feel we know)
  • Help your current clients engage with you to maintain that relationship (helps with repeat business and word of mouth)

For all of this to happen, though, you have to listen to your audience. Who is your demographic and what are they talking about? Are your clients even on social media, and if so, what platforms do they use? Don’t waste time on Twitter if people looking for what you offer gather on Facebook instead. Do your clients expect a more professional, business-to-business approach? Make yourself available on LinkedIn then.

Remember the “social” part of the media. Just saying “Buy me!” doesn’t cut it with today’s consumers. Speak to your audience, give them the information they need to pick you, show them how your solution can help them. Reveal a little more of your brand personality. Your FAQ or the questions your customer service team gets is a great starting point. Take advantage of groups but remember, this takes time to nurture, so don’t start something you may neglect later on.

Social media is great, but it isn’t everything. Integrate it into a broader campaign. Direct mail, emails, ads, traditional media like radio and newspapers all have their uses, depending on what you need. It should all drive back to your website, where the action happens.

And measure! It makes no sense to spend time or money on something that isn’t working for you. Ask your customers how they heard about you, where they saw your messages, and if you can, check Google Analytics to see what drives people to your website.

As much as I enjoy social media, I can’t wait to see what develops next as a new way to connect with people. That’s what it’s all about, after all, so make sure your efforts are worth your time regardless of the channel you choose. Time is not a renewable resource but tools come and go – just ask the telegraph.


  • Know why you’re doing it and what you want out of it – don’t do it just because the cool kids are
  • Be where your audience is – are you shouting into the noise while your target is on another platform?
  • Don’t depend on social media exclusively – as great as it is, it’s just another tool for an integrated campaign

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