Are You Winning the Social Media Battle but Losing the War?

  • July 19, 2011 by Corbett Barr
  • 46 Comments

Google+ has taken over the world. OK, not exactly, but it’s making a huge splash this month and I’m already convinced it’s here to stay (and Twitter may have some struggling ahead).

If you’ve been working online for at least a couple of years, you’ve seen so many social media platforms come (and some go), it’s incredible. And it seems the innovation isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

Perhaps we’ll all get fatigued and stop jumping on new platforms, but for now Google+ has been able to add over 10 million users in just a few weeks.

People still seem hungry for new connections and new platforms.

As an entrepreneur, it can be exhausting sometimes just trying to keep up. How do you maintain connections and provide meaningful interactions and content on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, blogs, and all the other platforms you might participate in?

It may seem like you just have to suck it up, spend hours every day on each of the platforms and try to beat your competitors at the “social media game.”

But here’s the deal: running around from platform to platform, employing the “shotgun” method to participating in social media isn’t a strategy. It’s more likely a waste of your time.

And winning the social media game probably isn’t your ultimate goal, either. Unless maybe you’re a social media “expert,” but even still, you still need a better strategy if you want to support a business.

Just because you’ve claimed your turf on every social network on the planet, does that mean you have a thriving audience and sustainable business to show for it?

Probably not, if you haven’t nailed the basics first.

Instead of reacting to every new social network launch by spreading yourself thinner and thinner, why not take a step back and consider your overall goals and strategy?

Consider the very foundation of your business first.

If certain key components aren’t in place, social media should be the least of your concerns. Ask yourself these fundamental questions:

  • Do you clearly understand what problem or need your business is addressing?
  • Do you know which segment of the market your products or services are aimed at?
  • Have you differentiated your offering from the competition?
  • Do you have killer branding and design for your website or blog?
  • Are you consistently producing epic content for your audience?
  • Are you regularly creating meaningful relationships with customers and partners?
  • Are you engaging your customers within your own platform?

If you’re a regular reader here, hopefully you already know how important these questions are. It takes outstanding content to stand out online these days, and all the social media investment in the world usually won’t make up for an unclear mission, weak branding, poor or unusable design, a lack of differentiation or mediocre content.

If you feel like you’re spending half of your day on social media, but you haven’t yet nailed those things, you should reset your priorities and probably lay off the Twitter for a while.

The good news is, once you nail the fundamentals, social media can become a powerful tool instead of the burden or diversion it might feel like now.

You have to pick your battles if you want to win the war.

You don’t have to be everywhere all at once. In fact, it may be more effective to choose one social media platform to really invest in and reach critical mass on. Critical mass is the point where you’re recognized as a leader and your voice is amplified. That’s where the real benefits of using social media kick in.

It’s much easier to achieve critical mass if you concentrate your efforts on the one network where your ideal customers are most likely to be. That might be Facebook, or it might be LinkedIn. It might be Twitter or it might be Google+.

There is no right answer, because every business is different. Every audience is different.

Your goal should be to do what is right for your business, not simply what everyone else seems to be doing, or what the social media gurus are all excited about right now.

The key is to start by looking at the bigger picture. You have to ruthlessly focus your time on the things that work, and stop spending precious time on the things that don’t.

What do you think? How do you keep up with the changing social media landscape? Do you worry about it? Do you pick your battles? Which battles are worth fighting?

Let’s hear it in the comments!

P.S. I just watched a fantastic free video series about blogging that I wanted to share with you. Hiten Shaw (founder of KISSMetrics) and Andrew Warner (Mixergy) put together this info-packed session about how to blog for maximum conversions and traffic. Check it out over at AppSumo (it’s free).

Written by . Corbett is cofounder of Fizzle, a place for creative entrepreneurs, writers, makers, coders and artists, all working to support themselves doing what they love independently on the Internet. Follow Corbett on on Twitter.


Think Traffic is now The Sparkline. Click here to check it out.

Or View The Archives

Shlomo July 19, 2011 at 6:05 am

I just put this article on Twitter. I almost feel guilty about it.
Shlomo

Corbett July 19, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Hehe, thanks!

David Thomas July 19, 2011 at 6:12 am

Great post. I often find myself not investing enough time on social media platforms for the simple reason that I concentrate much more of my time on content for my blog. Social media can help if you want to target a specific section of your audience but you are of course correct to point out that the basics such as killer content/design/differentiation are more important to establish first. As my blog is new, I do try to focus on these elements. Worrying about the latest trends in social media is not a priority for me but that can easily change if new trends can help towards my own goals.

All the best

The Simple Trader

Ian Knox July 21, 2011 at 7:37 pm

Hi David. I liked your reply and think it is common with lots of people. Thing is Facebook is not social media. It is an example of social media. Your blog is social media. I teach in the area, but frankly we are all learning, constantly about social media. To me it is all about influence (particularly from a business point of view) and you can use a suite of SM to funnel users towards your ultimate goal. In my case I use Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Youtube, Flikr etc but ultimately it is all about sending people to your main page, be it blog, website etc. Then ultimately the relationship building may/should also flow into doing business.
Cheers, Ian

Chris Stott July 19, 2011 at 6:36 am

Let’s be honest…the main reason that people are jumping on G+ at the moment is because it is fun. New = fun. We can try and justify to ourselves that it is productive for our businesses, and no doubt in some way it will be, but really it is cool to hang out there. For now.

Corbett July 19, 2011 at 12:42 pm

There’s something to be said for having fun in business, I’m definitely not arguing against that.

Shawn July 19, 2011 at 6:41 am

Great article to be reminded to stick to your fundamental business plan!

Vic Magary July 19, 2011 at 6:54 am

I think I’m going to print out that bullet point list of questions and staple it to my forehead. Seriously, you just boiled down every question that I ask myself now when I sense things are off course with my blog (and I thank Traffic School for that). I agree that Google + looks like it is going to be an important social media outlet, but no social media outlet or other shiny object will ever replace the core fundamentals that you have listed. Thank you!

Corbett July 19, 2011 at 12:44 pm

If anyone could handle the pain of a staple to the forehead, you might be the guy Vic ;)

Shane July 19, 2011 at 7:36 am

Corbett – -
I’m glad someone mentioned this. Yeah, G+ and all the others are great but they are simply tools. They are not a business model.

I’m watching as certain people rush over to Google Plus and literally take it over. Sure, it’s a great new network and I think it has huge potential but it is not a business model.

In fact, many people were successful before social media and you know what? They worked really hard to create engagement and build their business, but they spent time doing the things that mattered the most…and now you have a new generation of folks trying to replicate them….but don’t want to double-down and do the work.

Social media is simply like walking into a big cocktail party – it’s great for networking but unless you are in the business of arranging cocktail parties then it’s still just a tool.

Corbett July 19, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Hey Shane, I love the “being in the business of arranging cocktail parties” analogy. Good stuff.

TrafficColeman July 19, 2011 at 7:41 am

There is a battle going on and everyone is defending for themselves. But you know understand that social media is the new girl on the block and everyone trying ti get at her.

“Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

Dave Doolin July 19, 2011 at 8:57 am

Corbett, you have a knack for making me feel like you’re speaking directly to me, about my current situation. So I’m going to respond that way.

These are timely questions, which I can’t answer to my satisfaction at this exact moment. What I’m doing at the moment is limiting social media interaction to, well, being social. At the same time, working on excellence in associated arenas.

Corbett July 19, 2011 at 12:46 pm

I was talking just to you Dave, didn’t you know? Kidding of course, but glad it seems that way. Good luck with the excellence work.

Steve Murphey July 19, 2011 at 11:26 am

Seems like many of the experts are abandoning Facebook for Google + and even saying it will replace blogging. But this only makes sense if it matches your overall business goals. Plus I hesitate to focus on a platform that I don’t control…

Corbett July 19, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Exactly, Steve. I wouldn’t feel comfortable investing all of my effort in a platform that could disappear overnight.

Floricel @ Online Business Design Blog July 19, 2011 at 12:10 pm

So I therefore conclude that social media networks and websites are just always there waiting to be devoured by many. But a smart entrepreneur should not only be smart but to be wise as well, not becoming too engross from all of it. Instead keeping in mind that it’s only a tool (just what others pointing out here).

Thank you Corbett for shedding some light. :)

Derek Jensen July 19, 2011 at 2:35 pm

If you focus on an email list and direct people when it’s appropriate to a certain social media outlet. And/or just become that personal brand/brand where people begin searching for you on social media networks/outlets.

Corbett July 20, 2011 at 5:07 pm

It’s true, if your message is important enough, people will follow you to different social outlets.

Allie | Ramblings of a WAHM July 19, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Corbett,

When I began blogging I joined every social network imaginable, it was tiring. And, frankly, I got sick of some of them. They were quantity over quality. I make great connections with my fellow bloggers and audience at Twitter and Facebook. And I feel I need no more.

Then Google went and messed everything up with Google +. I was happy I didn’t get in. But then just a couple of days ago I got an invite. Oh! Bother! I activated it but haven’t done anything yet.

I came online to blog. And I have been distracted by too many other, well, distractions. You made a great point, “If you feel like you’re spending half of your day on social media, but you haven’t yet nailed those things, you should reset your priorities and probably lay off the Twitter for a while.” And that is what I intend to do.

Thanks.

~Allie

P.S. Caught you on SPI podcast last week, awesome. Both you and Pat are inspirational.

Corbett July 20, 2011 at 5:10 pm

Hey Allie, I find the social media machine to be distracting and tiring at some times too, I think we all do. So far, I’m happy I’ve been spending some time at Google+, but it has definitely come at the expense of other things. Something has to give!

Thanks for the note about the SPI podcast. I love chatting with Pat over there. Such a great guy he is.

Darryl Burma July 19, 2011 at 3:59 pm

I’ve dabbled a bit trying to figure out the whole Google+ thing. I do have an account but still learning how to use it to my full advantage. Similar to anything that is new I suppose, just takes a while to get the hang of it.

I did enjoy reading this article from start to finish and for whatever it’s worth I +1′d it for you.

Corbett July 20, 2011 at 5:11 pm

Thanks Darryl! The +1 button is kinda like “liking” something on Facebook. It’s a way to recommend content you enjoy.

Google+ didn’t take too long to get used to. Just a couple of hours and I felt pretty comfortable. Twitter seemed to take longer to understand originally.

Mark July 19, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Sometimes dilettantism is the finest -ism! It doesn’t pay well, but it keeps the game fun.

Re: giggle+ — I’m with the folks in economics and business (and nature) who recognize that diversification is always the way to stay relevant, poignant and profitable.

G+ is a way to carve a meaningful tributary from the lurching, rapid stream (Twitter), and to irrigate meaningful tribes that the Golden Pate (Godin) talks about so fluently.

Best,
M

Corbett July 20, 2011 at 5:12 pm

That’s one way to look at it, Mark! The macro perspective is always fun to pontificate about, but I like to focus on the details as they apply to my situation.

Dana Duncan July 19, 2011 at 8:57 pm

Hey Corbett,

You brought up some great points in your article. I completely agree with what you said about it coming down to what’s right for your business. In the past I’ve spread myself too thin by focusing on WAY too many social media platforms. When the amount of time managing all these different platforms started to take time away from more important things like writing great content (which is really what my visitors want), I had to take a step back and evaluate what was really best for my business.

Now, I try to focus mainly on one or two platforms for each site. Ideally, the ones where my visitors are (and potential visitors can also find me). Facebook and Twitter have been my two choices for awhile now, but I’m at least dipping my feet into Google+. My gut feeling is G+ will quickly increase in popularity to become a major player, and I want to be ready when that happens. It’s still too early for me to go all in, but I’ll be keeping a close eye on G+, especially once it’s open to everyone without an invite…

Corbett July 20, 2011 at 5:13 pm

And really, the cost of dipping your toe in the water is pretty small. That’s a wise strategy Dana.

Avadhut July 20, 2011 at 4:02 am

Hi Corbett,

This is true. I am confused as many *experts* are suggesting using SEO, Social bookmarking, directory submission is a way to gain visitors.

At the same time, I came across an article which says writing insanely useful content, guest blogging is a way to blog growth.

I need your honest reply.

Corbett July 20, 2011 at 5:15 pm

Content has to come first. Without a message and value to provide, your effort spent on social media, SEO, etc. won’t return much back to you.

Garrett Moon July 20, 2011 at 7:16 am

I think this just highlights the concerning trend amongst social media types. More often than not they make everything about the tools and the next blog widgets and less about message and actual business objectives.

Businesses need to see how social can change their bottom line before it will stick for them. Not the hottest new social network.

Corbett July 20, 2011 at 5:16 pm

But it’s just so fun to talk about gadgets and tools, Garrett! ;)

Gianpaolo Pietri July 20, 2011 at 8:39 am

After spending a couple of weeks on Google+ I already feel the potential power it could have. It seems so far to do the best job of combining all the different social platforms into one.

The one thing I have found frustrating about the current state of social media is precisely what you describe as the jumping around from network to network. I am slowly growing more convinced that I should abandon Facebook, which has been a mediocre tool for my business, and Twitter, which I have started to lose my taste for, especially now with google +.

The question that remains for me now is about timing. When do you make the leap and close up shop. I already eliminated the Facebook page for one of my businesses, Simply Optimal. For now, I’ll keep working the 3 big ones, Twitter, FB, and LinkedIn, but will be eyeing the possibility of consolidating them all into my Google + in the very near future.

Corbett July 20, 2011 at 5:17 pm

Twitter and Facebook still continue to provide a great return on my time investment. Google+ is creeping up there quickly. I haven’t cracked LinkedIn completely yet, but I keep learning.

Gianpaolo Pietri July 20, 2011 at 8:45 am

If I may,

Where did you get the Plus One button for social sharing of your articles?

Corbett July 20, 2011 at 12:24 pm
Sarah O July 20, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Yes, this affirming to read. I’ve been putting off ‘learning’ Twitter so I can actually utilize it in a business sense, and feeling guilty and lame about my procrastination. This post helps me set my priorities straight. I still have work to do on all of those bullet points. So, Twitter will have to stay on the back burner. Same with Google+ – although it looks like it has some good potential for networking with fellow entrepeneurs.

Corbett July 20, 2011 at 5:18 pm

If you’re going to choose one of the two, it’s a hard call. I think Google+ is easier to understand at first, plus it has some momentum right now. I love Twitter and have made so many great connections there, but it does take time to get used to.

Andrew July 20, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Really agree with this article. Sure, I have my twitter and Facebook page set up, but I am really focusing on building a base of content (and with it, hopefully, an audience) so that I actually have something that warrants the social media!

Corbett July 20, 2011 at 5:18 pm

Exactly, great questions to ask yourself.

Cathy | Treatment Talk July 20, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Hi Corbett,

It’s so easy to be caught up in social media and how many people follow you. You are right, the main thing is to focus on your content and try to make it as excellent as you can. Good reminder, because it can be overwhelming.

Corbett July 20, 2011 at 5:19 pm

Cheers Cathy, thanks for stopping by.

LDP July 20, 2011 at 8:20 pm

Killer stuff. It’s always good to constantly remember the foundamentals of a sound business strategy. Social networks are great tools, but their power lies in how they contribute to a terrific business strategy. Great article, keep them coming!

shei July 27, 2011 at 1:21 am

can i know which plugin are you using to display the share buttons? thanks

Corbett July 27, 2011 at 8:41 am

Hey Shel, I don’t use a plugin to display the share buttons. I get the button code directly from the creators, and add it manually to my custom functions file (I’m using the Thesis theme for WordPress).

Comments on this entry are closed.

Sites That Link to This Post