Is It Worth the Time?
Okay, so now that we have this information, where do we go from here? Sounds like keeping up with just the big four might make for a full time job—and what’s really in it for printers? That’s a great question and will really depend on your specific business. Who is your audience? What are your business goals and marketing strategy? What exactly are you trying to accomplish?
A copy shop in California is likely to have very different social media needs than a New York commercial printer, so keep in mind that anything you do should be very tailored to your company’s goals and audience. Mr. Major Corporation isn’t likely to buy printing based on a Facebook page, but a college professor might. If you’ve had luck in printing band posters or gallery postcards, MySpace may be the perfect fit for you. If you’re seeking the ear of those ever elusive marketing professionals, LinkedIn could be the key to getting through those gates. If you’re looking to become an industry expert, try tweeting print tips throughout the week.
The truth is we could talk for hours about the pros and cons of each of these sites. The best advice is probably to consider your business and then step back and take some bite-sized, manageable pieces of social media. There is more than just the “best fit for your business” to bear in mind when it comes to social media.
Consider time. The unfortunate aspect of most social media is that it isn’t a “one and done” commitment. Most of these options require consistent updating and, while most of it can be done in less than a half hour, it is still something that will need to be added to your standing “to do” list.
Consider talent. If you don’t love to write, if you can’t craft a great thought or tip in 140 characters, then Twitter is probably not the best home for you. If you’re not a “picture person,” Facebook folks are likely not going to follow a picture-less page.
Keep it authentic. If you’re considering hiring someone to do the work for you, you’ve really just defeated the purpose of social media. It must be genuine to work. If you’ve promised your followers tips from your CEO, they must truly come from his or her keyboard. If you try to fake it, people will find out—that, I can almost assure you.
Create buzz. Social media is all about invoking interest in your page, posts, whatever the case may be, and then inciting action. Think outside the box when it comes to your social media approach; be creative. You’ve got a lot of competition for page views so use humor, wit, or creativity to get noticed (but remember the authenticity rule).
Be aware of the risks. Public sites are just that—public. These are community-based sites where people are encouraged to interact and give feedback. Be ready for the bad to come along with the good. If you do get some not so great comments about your business, the worse thing you can do is hide from them. Address issues as they come and people will likely appreciate your willingness to stand up and deal with the sorts of situations we all inevitably experience.
If you’re 100% new to the social media world, a great place to start is a simple LinkedIn profile. You can create one in about an hour and there’s minimal risk involved for you or your company. It also requires as little or as much updating as you are prepared to handle—which is a very good thing when you’re first starting out. Join a few groups so you can see how they’re used and help you decide whether it would be beneficial to start your own.
If you’re out in the community even a little, you’ll likely start seeing “linked in” requests (people who want to join your “network” on the site) start flowing into your inbox. And there you have it; you’re now experiencing the wonder of social media with minimal effort.