(or, “what the hell do you folks do all day?“!)

Social media is free and easy, isn’t it?

On the face of it, social media is much more accessible than other forms of online marketing. Anyone can register a twitter, facebook or YouTube account and can get started immediately. However, for many businesses this is as far as they get. Have a look out for business websites with professional-looking links to a twitter account that, when you click on it, only has a dozen or so followers and last tweeted six months ago – you won’t have to look for long.

There are many reasons why this happens so often. The biggest reason is time. Small businesses are there to deliver the service or products that they specialise in. They may have a website and some good marketing but these are one-off tasks that they may have worked on themselves one weekend or they outsource to an agency.
A social media presence requires constant attention. We usually say that it needs the best part of an hour a day minimum, most days, to run an effective social media account.

Uh, really? Isn’t it a five minute job?!

Let’s just take Twitter alone – although relatively few businesses only run a twitter account.  You’ll need to: check your new followers and acknowledge those you want to connect with; respond to any mentions or direct messages; have a look at what’s being said by your contacts; retweet or respond to anything of interest; and create and send out one or two relevant or helpful tweets yourself.

If you’re great at not getting sidetracked, that could be 45 minutes – if you’re not, you might only surface after lunch! And that’s before the really time consuming tasks like searching out interesting contacts to grow your network, or keeping up with the platform changes and new features.

Okay, so what else is involved?

The second biggest reason for those abandoned links is strategy. The business gets someone, sometimes several “someones”, whoever has a bit of spare time, to go through the motions of doing everything we mentioned above. After a few weeks, the question “why are we doing this, again?” comes up. Carrying on with the Twitter scenario: you’ve got a few followers, lots of whom seem to be in other countries and broadcasting baffling nonsense. Some of your employees have had a few chats with their mates about the football, but that’s about all, or you’ve broadcast something factual about every proposal the business has sent out in the last two months, and nobody has responded. You’ve forgotten (or you never knew) why you’re doing it in the first place. Or, if you do have a strategy, you’re not sure why it isn’t working….is your profile or bio putting people off? Are you targeting the wrong people? Is your outbound content not interesting to anyone?

And that’s before you move on to any other platforms, which all have their own unique features, “feel”, and etiquette.

So, now you know what we do all day! If we’re not actively online with a client’s Twitter /Facebook / LinkedIn account or Blog, we’re monitoring KPIs to see how effective our work is, and reviewing their strategy to see if it can be improved. Then there’s the job of just keeping up with the constantly evolving world of social media – whether that be investigating brand new platforms which might be relevant to our clients, or damage limitation when Facebook makes a major change to pages or functions.

Working with a social media manager is the most efficient way of getting this done, for some businesses. For others, it’s the only way it’ll get done at all.