Social media gurus tell you to have a strategy. “Not having a strategy” was the #1 marketing mistake people listed on the survey Mac McIntosh and I did (the upcoming e-book will list the other nine).
I’ve parroted this advice from the gurus. “You must have a strategy before you begin social media,” I say at my talks.
But here’s the deal. I’ve been wrong. Yep. Dead wrong.
Strategy, when it comes to social media, is overrated. Strategy makes it sound like the water is deep. Jump into the lake from the diving platform and you’ll need to figure out how to reach the shore. You need to know how to swim.
The social media lake is pretty shallow. Step in and you’ll get your ankles wet. Maybe. The water might only reach your pedicured toes.
In shallow water you can easily walk to the shore using what you already know – how to put one foot in front of the other.
Social media isn’t anything radical. It’s simply this: talking to other people. Some of them you know already. Some of them you don’t. That’s what makes it fun. It’s like being at a really cool cocktail party without the bother of dressing up and driving.
Social media strategy keeps you from being authentic. “We’ll cover all things relating to [insert topic here],” you think.
Strategy is important. It’s the first step in developing a new Website or a direct mail campaign or something of that nature. I’ve seen lots of marketing failures due to lack of a well-thought out strategy.
But sticking to a social media strategy is stifling. What if you have a terrific insight about something that has nothing to do with [insert your topic here]? Do you post it – or ignore it?
Ignore it and you lose authenticity.
You hear a lot about being “authentic.” Posting your location at some restaurant none of us have heard of isn’t authentic. Posting what you’re eating for dinner or that you have a headache isn’t really authentic either.
What is authenticity? It’s posting who you really are. It’s all the parts that make up who you are: your family, your interests, your pets, your likes, your dislikes.
Most of all it’s your unique insights.
Only you have your own perspective on what’s going on around you. Sure, you can read someone’s blog post and Tweet your “unique” take on it or post your Foursquare location – along with dozens of other people.
I won’t remember where you ate dinner or which blog post you read – last night, last week, last year.
Or, you can pull into your work parking lot and take a minute to enjoy the fact that a wild turkey is standing on one leg in your parking space — and tell your followers about it.
Personally, I’d rather hear about the turkey. I’ll remember the turkey and that you stopped to enjoy a gift from the universe because let’s face it – how often do you run into a wild turkey standing on one leg in your corporate parking lot?
It happened to me once. I’ve never forgotten it and always look for him now when I pull in. He hasn’t graced the parking lot since.
Being “social” on social media doesn’t require too much “strategy” or knowledge. You already know what to do.
Be nice to people.
Answer their questions.
Respond to what they have to say.
Post your own take on what is going on around you.
We’re all stuck in front of our computers pecking away all day – peck, peck, peck. It’s refreshing when one of us breaks loose.
People recognize authenticity and like moths, want to hover near the source. Maybe you won’t have 20,000 Twitter followers or be known as a “guru.”
But you’ll be true to yourself and your followers. And as Shakespeare said, you then can’t be false to anyone.