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Social Media Overload: When is Enough Too Much?

Posted on Jan 13th, 2011
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    The onslaught of new social media sites has fundamentally changed the role of any marketing or communications professional. Every day millions of users are spending significant periods of time on social networks. In 2010, social media use represented 22 percent of the time spent online by users. The impact of social media on business cannot be ignored but how much is too much?

    For many organizations, hiring a social media specialist isn’t a viable option due to budget constraints or the responsibility for managing the social media programs falls on the shoulders of the communications department. It’s a role often already filled with deadlines and juggling of priorities between internal and external efforts, media relations, content creation, meetings and more.

    The bottom line: Don’t chase every shiny object in the marketplace. A quick search on “social networking websites” and a visit to Wikipedia gave me 201 options. Now sure, some of these are very small and specific to a niche but it’s interesting to look back at all the ideas that someone thought were brilliant and revolutionary for their time.

    The sad fact is that for every useful site like Caring Bridge or big hit like Facebook, there’s a Bolt or a Google Buzz that came and went or never took off at all. Set goals on what your company needs to achieve and create a set of key questions that you use in reviewing any new tool you want to explore. Think about using those filter questions as a screen to evaluate opportunities in front of you.

    The questions will vary but take some time now (after a few more paragraphs at least) to think about and talk with the key stakeholders in your organization about the right questions. Filters should be specific enough to give you real, measurable information that can inform you about the potential success of your investment (time or money) in a social platform.

    • Does this generate enough direct revenue to offset the staff time required?
    • Will this expand our opportunities into a new market of interest to us?
    • Is this tool effective enough to get customers to take a specific action whether its click to buy or visit a store?
    • What level of speculative time investment are we willing to make?
    • Could this lead to collaboration or co-promotion opportunities that will benefit the company?
    • Does this effort align logically with our existing initiatives?

    These are of course just samples and there isn’t a single way to do it. Perhaps 20 percent of a full-time employee’s time  to execute a program with unknown success is worth it in your model or the opportunity to create an entry to a new market.

    Even once you create filters, there are times when you should try new efforts that don’t fit or take a chance. But by slowing down to evaluate the opportunities you at least make sure you’re not adding yet another task to your role without thoughtful purpose and a good chance at success.

    How much of your time do you estimate goes into social media on a daily basis? And what has worked for you in balancing the requirements of social with other essential roles?