There is no magic to social media

I’m always a little afraid to work with people that have too high of expectations of social media. Sometimes people seem to approach it with the idea that just having a Twitter account is going to somehow double their business overnight. That’s to be expected though, considering the hype surrounding social media.

Then there is the common misconception that social media means telling people your most intimate/dull details. “Do you really think people care what I had for breakfast?!” people will ask me. The answer is “no”, unless you can somehow make breakfast interesting.

But for businesses especially, social media should not be all about you. It should be about your customer. You should be looking to provide information they are looking for. Yes, you do want to make things a little more personal and candid from time to time. People like to know they are dealing with a human being–someone they may have something in common with. People do business with people they know and like.

But most importantly, people do business with people they believe to be credible. There is no amount of social media that can make you sound credible if you are not. Credibility is built through two steps:

  1. Provide solid, useful content.
  2. Repeat regularly.

That doesn’t sound very magical, does it. In fact, it sounds downright boring. What is worse is that it’s not easy. It would be much easier to post about your breakfast, frankly. It takes much less thought and preparation. It takes much less discipline.

Though journalists like to look down on social media generally and bloggers specifically, popular bloggers have more in common with journalists than they care to admit. The people who get read are those who post something new regularly, whether they feel like it or not, whether they have time or not. Or rather, they make time.

Not every post needs to be a masterpiece, and your audience will probably forgive you a few lapses. But to really make social media work requires regular, disciplined, focused effort. You need to take time to think about what your audience needs to hear. You need to write it as best you can, and then post it. And then you need to do it again tomorrow, or next week, or however often you’ve committed to posting (I recommend no less than weekly).

No, there’s no magic to social media. It’s like everything else in life and in business: it takes work. Those who show up regularly and do the work are the ones who get the benefits. Those who stumble in expecting to find magic overnight will be sadly disappointed.

For the record, I had oatmeal for breakfast this morning. I sprinkle sliced almonds on top, drizzle real maple syrup over it, and then surround it with a moat of vanilla soy milk. Any leftovers we give to the dog, who prowls around the table throughout breakfast, snorting in anticipation of the pending treat. When she finally gets it she gobbles it down so quickly she can’t possibly know what it tastes like.