Social Media – worth the time?

As someone who has become immersed in the world of social media in the last year or so, I’m often asked questions like these:

  • How is it working out (personally/professionally)?
  • Do you get any business from it?
  • How much time do you spend on it every day?
  • Should I do it?
  • How do I get started?

The answer to each of these questions could be a whole blog post, or series of posts. I am by no means a social media expert, but I do feel more at home in a world that is still unexplored territory for many.  There are lots of people contemplating “the leap” into the social media world and wondering if they’ll sink or swim.

What I tell people, in a nutshell, is that whether it’s “worth it” or it “works” depends on two things:

  1. Who you are trying to reach (if you’re a business person contemplating social media as a marketing tool)
  2. How you feel about social media and being online

While I personally LOVE social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Biznik, blogging, Flickr, etc., and to answer question 3, I spend about 2 hours a day on it), Harmony Matters’ target audience still primarily finds us via the yellow pages, word of mouth, and searching online.  Whether social media will be viable for you as a marketing strategy depends mostly on whether your target audience is using social media.  It can’t hurt to have a presence online — after all, the more places people see your name, the better — but you’re probably not going to get a lot of new clients from Twitter if your average client doesn’t use Twitter.

The more important factor though, in my opinion, is how you feel about social media, and “being online” in general.  Does it feel like home to you?  Do you feel like it’s one room in the house that is your life?  (Facebook is my living room; Twitter is my front porch.) For the younger generation, the distinction between online life and real life has blurred or disappeared completely.  This doesn’t mean that they live completely online; just that a text or tweet is as “real” as a phone call or bumping into someone at the grocery store.  It’s real communication that happens in real time, so what’s the difference?  People who feel this way are saying “come on in, the water’s fine!”  But many of us are still unsure.

The best social media interactions are authentic (your real self).  It’s pretty difficult to be authentic when you don’t feel comfortable.  Of course, everything new takes some effort and some getting used to.  So if you feel inclined to try social media, go for it!  Give yourself some time to get used to it, try a few different platforms or sites, and see if it’s really for you.  But if you don’t feel at home, then maybe social media isn’t for you.  And that’s ok.  There are many ways to connect with people in this fast paced world.  Find the ones that work for you, personally and professionally.

On the other hand, maybe you really like social media but you’re intimidated by the fast pace and feeling like you’re “not good enough at it”.  Don’t let that stop you!  You don’t have to know and do everything to be successful at social media.  Do the things that you’re good at, do the things that you enjoy, and be willing to learn something new.

In our increasingly digital world, there’s all sorts of “digital clutter” flying at us at the speed of light every day.  Clutter is anything that gets in your way or drains your energy.  For some people, social media falls into this category – a chore and an energy drain.  For others its a source of energy and inspiration and a way to make a meaningful contribution, or just have fun.  Which category does it fall into for you?

-Naomi (the social media fanatic half of Harmony Matters)

P.S. If you’re interested in learning more about Twitter, check out two articles I’ve written on Biznik:

Understanding Twitter and Cutting Through the Noise

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