Doís and Doníts: How to Remain Productive Using Social Media

By: Kyle Lacy

From: IGC Retailer, March/April, 2013

Doís and Doníts: How to Remain Productive Using Social Media
Social media can be an excellent marketing tool, giving your garden center the boost it needs not only to your return on investment but also for your companyís brand. But the true power of social media is only unlocked when it is used efficiently and productively. Whether youíre getting on Facebook, Twitter or other sites and doing the grunt work yourself or youíre outsourcing it, these tips will ensure maximum productivity.

Donít spread yourself too thin by participating in every social network out there. Keep it simple, focusing your efforts on sites that cater to your target audience. While Facebook and Twitter are a sure bet, in-depth market research should be done before launching a major marketing effort on other sites.

I recommend using the four-points model for marketing your garden center using social media. These touchpoints will help determine your social media success:

1. Business - LinkedIn is the social network used for business development and networking.

2. Local networking - Find a local social network that connects you to people within your community.

3. Personal life - I use Facebook to keep in touch with friends, family and my personal network.

4. Information - Twitter is a great aggregation tool where you can follow influential people and read the information they share.

Of course, itís up to you to decide which social media sites you want to use for your garden center. It is dependent on what your customers want, need and use.

Before you launch a marketing campaign, decide what your end goals are, and work on reaching them. What kind of image do you want to portray? Every post you make on these sites should be geared toward these goals. If you need to make a personal post to better connect with your fans, thatís fine. If you need to advertise your latest services or a new product, thatís fine, too. Just donít waste time making posts that accomplish nothing.

Keep in mind, no matter who you are, you will inevitably attract haters who just want to mess with you once you build up an online presence. Donít engage them in meaningless arguments or lose your cool. In most cases, ignoring them and blocking them when you can is the best thing you can do, though setting the record straight if they slander you isnít a bad idea, either. Just donít allow yourself to be baited into arguments.

Time Management Strategies
You get out what you put in. How many times have we heard that? Commit a set amount of time each week to your social media applications. You may find yourself spending too much time on them otherwise.

I designate 30 minutes to an hour each day to information sharing (writing blogs, commenting on blogs, perusing my Google Reader) and an hour a day to using my other networks (Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter).

If you use Outlook or Google Calendar, itís important to set up time blocks for using social media. I find it valuable to set the time aside and help build a habit.

One of the best things about social media is the fact that most networks can be accessed and posted from mobile devices. This makes it easy for you to keep your posting schedule flexible, and eliminates the need to be in front of your desktop to post. Overall, this is a great way to save time if youíre good at schedule organization.

It pays also to have a separate social media account for your garden center. Not only can this help prevent mishaps such as your customer base seeing you post a link to a video of a farting dog, it can also keep you from wasting time. When you post on your business account, youíre more likely to stay focused. When you post on your personal account, youíll be checking out links, pictures and videos your friends sent you - this is, perhaps, the biggest productivity killer of them all.

This should go without saying, but when youíre posting for business purposes, donít be led astray by all the ďcarrots on sticksĒ youíll come across. Stay focused.

Sure, that ad that promises you can lose 10 pounds by next Monday may pique your curiosity, but donít click on it. And donít fall for the ď2,000 fans for $20Ē route either; it will lead you straight into a valley of despair. It is important to keep in mind that building fans, friends and followers is a process that cannot be purchased.

Social networks have a lot of games, and they can be major time wasters. When youíre on social networks for business purposes, donít be lured off-track by tempting games.

On the other hand, keep in mind that games can be used to sell your garden center services. Be sure to check out GardenQuest, a Facebook game that helps sell flowers and other products that are sitting in your brick-and-mortar shop.

Overall, social media productivity is important because your business is the No. 1 priority. No matter what tool or channel youíre using to build your garden center, your time is of the utmost importance.

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