The 3 Rock Solid Questions To Guide 2013 Social Media Success

So Much Has Been Written, I Fear We're Losing Sight Of The Horizon

There is an almost infinite variety of minor circumstances that can occupy your attention and create frustration for social media and content marketing professionals. The pace of change is breathtaking, and the feedback loop is instantaneous. This creates a culture of disproportionate attention to detail. So much has been written about the mechanics of social media marketing in the past year, that I fear we’re losing sight of the horizon.

My aunt, the brilliant corporate trainer Jeanne Baer, uses the analogy of sand and rocks. We tend to pay too much attention to sand, because it sticks between your toes and annoys you and is everywhere, and pay too little attention to rocks because they’re big and heavy, and hard to move. As you get another year under way with optimistic expectations to take your social and content initiatives to new heights, recognize that rocks, not sand, will dictate whether you’ll achieve your objectives.

Make sure you can answer these three “rock” questions at all times in 2013. If you can, the sand will take care of itself.

1. How Does Social Media Make Us Money, and How Can We Prove That?

The goal isn’t to be good at social media; the goal is to be good at business because of social media. (tweet this)

2013 is the year of social optimization. Growth is slowing, and it’s time to focus on making money, saving money or both. It is essential that you have a defined social media strategic plan that supports real business objectives like customer acquisition or customer loyalty.

If you’re still using social connections (fans, followers) as a major proof-point of your efforts, stop. Take the time and make the effort to measure financial impact. Is it easy? Often, it is not. Is it doable? Yes. (Here’s a post on a 6-step process for measuring social media, and why not measuring social media ROI is your fault, and this eBook on measuring content marketing may be useful, too)

2. Do We Have Adequate Resources To Succeed?

Social media isn’t inexpensive, it’s just different expensive. (tweet this)

I’ve written here before that you’re better off having a more narrow social media marketing program, and focusing on excelling in the venues in which you choose to participate. But I recognize that isn’t reality. Most companies see a social network gaining traction and they feel a gravitational pull that forces them to “be where our customers are” and participate. That can spread your attention very thin, dangerously so.

Customers increasingly expect real-time customer service via social media, and fees required to maximize your exposure on Facebook and elsewhere are only going to rise. On the labor side, in particular, this is also the year where more and more companies will decentralize social, and make it a part of many people’s jobs, instead of relying upon dedicated social media teams. Much more scalable that way, and it recognizes the truth that all employees are in marketing and customer service now, whether or not they want to be.

3. How Are We Segmenting Our Participation?

If you’re doing the same stuff in every social network, why bother? (tweet this)

The tractor beam effect and social network expansion has turned the former “Big 3″ of Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin into the “Big 6″ of Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, Pinterest and Google +/Google Communities. Note that I don’t list Youtube in either column because, while necessary and relevant in most cases, I don’t really view it as a social network but as a content platform like Slideshare or WordPress.

How is your participation in Twitter different from your participation in Facebook? How does Instagram differ from Pinterest? If you don’t have clear segmentation for the audiences, content, objectives and metrics of each of your social presences, you need to figure it out immediately. Realize that Facebook isn’t a social network, it’s a social layer (according to my friend Tom Webster based on our research from The Social Habit). The truth is that almost every person that is on Twitter or Instagram or Pinterest or any other social network is ALSO on Facebook. Thus, if you’re playing the same cards on Facebook that you’re playing elsewhere, you’re just wasting time and money.

For each and every social network, you need to understand what audience you want to engage with; your content plan and editorial calendar; necessary resources; and how you’ll measure the success of that specific presence.

Your 3 Business Words for 2013

Many people perform a “3 words ” exercise (invented by Chris Brogan) to help them frame personal and business goals for the coming year. I suggest that for social media marketing, you move beyond the sand, and consider these three Rock words to help guide your success:

  • Strategy
  • Resources
  • Segment

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About Jay Baer
Jay Baer is a tequila-loving, hype-free social media strategy consultant and coach. An online marketing pro since 1994, he's worked with more than 700 companies, and 25 of the Fortune 1000. He's one of the world's most popular social media bloggers, creator of the 8-step Social Media Strategic Planning Process, and the Twitter 20 series of live Twitter interviews. He spreads his "think tools last, not first" message around the country like a digital dandelion, speaking to conferences, small groups, or passers-by. Check out his blog at Convince&Convert.

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