By Sandra Bauman and Mary Aviles
Social media engagement is a critical marketing tactic for consultants, but it can be paralyzing. In fact, we’ve had the bones of this blog post sitting untouched for several months. The ideas have been rattling around in our collective brains since Sandra attended Greenbook’s Insights Marketing Day and Mary shared her How to Use Twitter to Help Your Business presentation with the Detroit chapter of the Qualitative Research Consultants Association (QRCA) this fall. There has been a lot of discussion among market researchers about the challenges of marketing ourselves. We consider our social media efforts as a key component of our thought leadership strategy. Here are a couple of not-so-random social media-specific tips we’ve embraced:
1. Establish a social media hygiene routine. Think of social media engagement as you would brushing your teeth: something that has to happen every day, but for only a few minutes. Set aside a 15-minute window every day for this routine business maintenance. Check your Twitter feed. Favorite a few items to read later. Retweet or reply to a couple of items of interest. Comment on a blog or LinkedIn post that catches your attention. Set up a few Pinterest boards (or add to your existing boards). Post or comment on your Instagram or Facebook feeds.
2. Embrace the haphazard. This can be VERY hard for market researchers because DETAIL is in our nature. We tend to NEED to be thorough, to do things in order. But, for social media engagement, it’s okay to jump in midstream. We often refer to the ‘social media firehose.’ (If you aren’t familiar with the term, it’s a metaphor for the sheer quantity of content being generated constantly.) You can’t possibly consume everything so doing what you can when you can is okay.
3. Give yourself permission to embrace the present. Think of social media engagement like starting a scrapbook for your child/children. You don’t have to go back and document every moment since their birth. You’ll never finish that way (and you might end up missing some great moments in the present if you do!). It’s okay to do what you can starting from NOW.
4. Set realistic goals. See number 1. For example, we started out blogging twice a week and found that impossible to maintain. For 2014, we set the goal of one blog post per month minimum. With one month left in 2014, we’ve met that goal so far.
5. Use tools to help you. See number 4. Make one of your weekly or monthly goals to keep on top of and learn new technology. Case in point, you can’t effectively manage your Twitter feed without an interface like TweetDeck or HootSuite. We’ve included several new tools into our market research project routine as a result of these efforts this year–tools we were alerted to via social media engagement–including Revelation NEXT, Twitonomy, Zakta and Semantria.
6. Prioritize to get the most bang for your buck. We all know time is limited. So spend your precious social media engagement time where it will best work for you. You’ll quickly become better at determining which efforts yield the best results. While we have always considered LinkedIn as our highest value business social media platform, we were shocked by the activity we received on Sandra’s first LinkedIn post. Those results have certainly impacted our prioritization.
One of the very best parts of social media engagement is the opportunity for consultants to extend their networks and thus their knowledge. It’s a means of affordably experiencing some of the collegiality historically limited to live events like conferences. We certainly hope you can apply some of our tips and we’d love to hear some of yours!