Should You “Dabble” in Social Media?

A smart marketing friend and I have had a few discussions revolving around the question:Dabble in Social media

What is the proper response time for Social Media complaints?

He has stated a few times (and I’m paraphrasing here, because he is fully capable of making his own argument) that our expectations are too high; we, as in the social junkies, expect responses within hours if not minutes.  There are situations that are too complex, and companies that are too busy, to fix a problem or get an answer to you in a matter of hours.

I agree wholeheartedly with that thought process: some problems are complex and require time to sort out.    However, I do not think there is an acceptable excuse for not RESPONDING quickly, as in within hours. His question for me then was “‘What if company x is just dabbling in Social Media.’

I had to think on that one.

OK, I’ve thought.  Here’s my answer:

You should not dabble in Social Media.

I understand that not every small business owner is internet or tech savvy; some of us are just too busy getting work done to maintain a Small Business Facebook Page or Twitter account and respond within hours.  If that describes your business approach to social media, my advice is: get off of the social networks.

Here’s why: having a Social Profile means that your social savvy customers will find you there, and when they do, they’ll expect you to use it as a channel of communication.  If you are only going to check it infrequently, you are opening yourself up to unintentionally disappointing your customers who reach out to you via your page or profile.  It’s like setting up a voice mail at your business and only checking it weekly.

Do I think really Small Business should abandon social marketing? Absolutely not. But if you can’t commit to checking your social pages and profiles at least a couple of times a day, then perhaps you should rethink your social existence.  It is supposed to be a 2 way conversation, and if you’re not listening and responding, they’ll stop wanting to talk to you at all.

  • Perhaps what your friend meant when he said “dabble” was that companies should be allowed to experiment to see if social media is for them, without having to jump in fully at the start. If companies are expected to “be on” from day one, when they’re trying to find their feet, then they’ll get discouraged pretty quick and miss out on some great potential opportunities.

    We are impatient; and unforgiving; and demanding. And that’s created a generation of businesses that are afraid to experiment, because the public gaze is always on them. And that’s a shame, because the greatest successes in social media have come from experimentation and seeing what works but, more importantly, being allowed the time to see what works.

    • AmyMccTobin

      OK, point taken, but is checking into your FB page/Twitter feed, or setting it so that you get notified of a comment or question too much to ask in the beginning?  I think not.  I think that, like every medium, the small Small Biz person has to educate themselves before they dive in and make sure they’re ready to communicate on any channel they open.  

      • I totally agree with you Amy. Since so much of Social Media technology is free, and since there’s a ton of info available out there to teach new-comers about SM, there’s no reason to do trial & error.

        When your Small Business is your baby, your lively hood, why learn from your own mistakes when you could learn from others’ mistakes. Why dive in head first without research and exploration of the many automation features that come with nearly every Social Network?

        While Social Media evolves, grows, and gets more sophisticated each year, many Small Business owners [as well as many traditional advertisers/marketers] still believe that SM is a passing fad, bubble, simple, or not professional enough to be compared with traditional methods. If you do your research and model your SM efforts on successful, proven strategies you’ll find that it’s easy to do but definitely not simple.

        SM is great for engagement, market research, CRM, public relations, exposure, the list goes on. In the old days, we had non-interactive push advertising, boring surveys, customer service reps or endless digital mazes through automated phone systems, etc.

        Times have certainly changed. But the business world is catching up w/ the times in patches here and there. When you say that the Small Biz person needs to educate herself/himself, you’re absolutely right. The reality of this in practice however is that many don’t have the time, desire, or know-how to seek out the right information and then execute strategic campaigns.

        A major reason WE developed our platform was that WE realized Small Biz’s are having trouble with Social Media and with ROI [many don’t know what ROI stands for but they definitely know their efforts are not working]. WE launched “AgooBiz // The Social Commerce Network” in order to help level the playing field for Small Biz’s by providing as many automated SM features as WE could at the time. WE included an ecommerce app with every profile so that businesses could learn from each other, barter, share their customers and ideas, and engage in frictionless buying/selling all in one place.

        Social Media is not for dabbling. If you don’t have faith in Social Media but you decide to “dabble” anyway, then it’ll become a self-fulfilling prophecy. You believed it wouldn’t work, you dabbled w/o proper execution and when your experiment failed you told yourself: “I knew this wasn’t going to work! This is a total waste of my time”. WE always tell new members to think of their SM adoption in the same way they think of their business. They should treat it with the same fervor as they do their entire business because SM should be an extension their company. It’s also the face of their company.

        Great Post Amy!

        Steve Kavetsky
        AgooBiz // The Social Commerce Network
        “WE work greater than me”

        • AmyMccTobin

          Thanks Steve for stopping by.  Yes, the consensus is: no dabbling allowed.  Experimenting is different than dabbling, and Social is different than traditional push marketing, where dabbling doesn’t usually piss off your customers who reach out to you.

  • Completely agree, Amy. Don’t do it because everyone else is if you aren’t prepared to put some time into it. How often do we hear, “Oh we HAVE to get into social media,” without hearing, “So what will we need to do once we DO get into social media?”  There is a time commitment  that has to be considered and it should not be a small one.  Small businesses need to realize that they need staff members that are dedicated to the social media aspect of the company if for no other reason than consistency.  Doing it and doing it right are two entirely different things.

  • Amy, I agree 100%. Be in the conversation or don’t. It’s that simple. I think one of the biggest mistakes businesses make with social media is viewing it as solely as a marketing channel. It’s not. It’s a MEETING PLACE. You can dabble in sending out TV ads or newspaper ads or even Google Ads, because people cannot interact with you directly through those mediums. But when you establish a Facebook page or a Twitter account, you are telling the world that you are available for conversation. In essence, it is no different than you going to a networking event but refusing to talk to anyone because you’re just “dabbling.” 

    Businesses should be aware of the fact that people EXPECT a response when they are using social media. Most business people would respond promptly when someone fills out a contact form or sends them a direct email. Consumers don’t see messaging on Facebook or @mentions on Twitter any differently. They’re asking you questions…and you’re ignoring them. That’s the bottom line.

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