Guest blog by one of our conference speakers Karen Skidmore.

There is no doubt that Facebook and Twitter have both proved to be powerful marketing tools over the past couple of years. Once threatened to be “just for kids” or a passing fad, they are both now fully integrated in to today’s world of communication.

But too many businesses are still jumping on the social media bandwagon and creating Facebook pages and Twitter accounts without any thought to their overall business objectives.

And the biggest trap many fall in to is getting caught up with the hype of numbers.

Yes, it is important to increase the number of people who Like your Facebook page as well as attract more Twitter users to follow your tweets. Perception is reality after all and you the more “popular” you look, the more likely others will follow and check you out. Plus the more people who are able to like, share, comment and retweet you, will give you increased opportunities to reach out to their network when they see their updates.

However, chasing numbers alone is vanity. And insanity!

High fiving your colleagues when you reach your first 10,000 Facebook Likes could leave you with mud on your face if you haven’t worked through how you are going to convert those Likes in to sales.

When building your lists of potential customers on Facebook and Twitter, you don’t ever own that list. You will always be the tenant and Facebook and Twitter the landlord.

And here is why this is dangerous:

  1. Both Facebook and Twitter are free services. If anything goes wrong with your account, please don’t expect good customer service!
  2. Both Facebook and Twitter have strict terms of usage; Facebook in particular. With the launch of the new timelines for Facebook pages, there came a bunch of caveats of how you could use the new features. For example, you can’t have any contact info on your cover photo. Facebook expect this to go the relevant section of your info tab. Breach any of their terms (even unknowingly) and Facebook has the right to disable your page. No warning. Just wake up one morning and poof! It’s gone. It’s happened to others and it can happen to you, too.
  3. Rules change … all the time. Just as you think you’ve got your head around over what goes where, Facebook changes the game plan. It’s tough keeping up with it all. So if you are allowing yourself to be the tenant, you just have to play the merry dance along with everyone else … and that can be a real time wasting activity.

Now, I am not suggesting that you set up your own Facebook or Twitter social network! No, no, no. That’s way too much hard work. There’s an old saying that works for social media: “Fish where the fish are.” And that’s preciously what you have to do. Work out where your potential customers are hanging out online and open up communications with them there, rather than trying to drag them screaming and kicking over to your hang out.

But once you’ve identified whether Facebook or Twitter is right for you, this is where you have to work out a strategy of how you take the people who Like and follow you, over to your house.

Bring them over to the place that you own – your website or blog – and provide something of value that encourage them to share their contact details with you.

Building your own list of email and/or postal addresses is critical if you want your social media marketing to work for you.

Yes, there will be always be someone who stumbles upon your Facebook page, clicks Like and then straight away checks out what you offer, deciding to purchase. But treat these customers as added bonuses rather than the norm.

You will have work far harder than that with most of your Facebook and Twitter lists. And this is why you have to work out a strategy to ensure you become the landlord of your own list … rather than let Facebook and Twitter control you.

Come and get involved with the “How to Stop Being a Social Media Magpie” workshop by Karen Skidmore in the first session and find out what you can do to make this happen.


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