Patrick Tomasso

I’ve got a dirty little industry secret to share with you: Most new businesses’ social media is a waste of time.

The vast majority of good intentions, hard work and creativity that goes into a new business’ social media platforms has little or no impact on the outcomes and value for that business, and it breaks my heart.

I know what you’re thinking: “But aren’t you the social media guy, shouldn’t you be telling us to do more of that stuff?”

No. I’m here to advise brands to invest their time and money where they’re going to get and deliver value – not spin their wheels.

Deep down in my soul I believe that social media is a revolutionary way for brands to communicate and add value, and I’ve seen so many instances where insane benefits came from what they created using social channels (one of my favourites is linked at the bottom).

Those successes aren’t what I’m talking about. What I am talking about looks something like this – let me know if it sounds familiar:

Here’s what’s wrong with that: You haven’t given anyone a reason to care about anything that you’re putting out there. There’s no you in there – there’s no fire, no passion, and your community certainly doesn’t get anything valuable from it. You are most often what people are there for and what they care about.

The result is that you get a couple hundred followers who may have felt obligated, or are just hoping that you follow back. You feel uninspired, and your feeds become a chore to everyone involved.

But it’s hard, right? How can a small org with limited resources do social well while still doing all of the other business things? Here’s a road-tested method that I’ve developed over the past 7 years. I can’t promise you that it’s easy, but that’s because we’re talking about creating something that’s going to create real value for your business, and that thousands of people are going to choose to spend their time on when they literally have an entire internet full of alternatives.

The tough-love method to creating a social media plan that matters:

  1. Know why the business needs to exist – what was that burning desire that pushed you (or the founder) to start it?
  2. Figure out a way to accomplish that mission at scale using social tools. Example: Could you write a weekly blog post that cuts through the noise and equips businesspeople to own their social?
  3. Know your story – founder stories and struggles are super interesting. Everyone wants to follow along as you work to build your dream, warts and all.
  4. Your community wants a balance between point #2 and point #3. Figure out your balance.
  5. Choose a channel. Building one social media channel is a huge job. Building three almost always dooms you to mediocrity. Own one, and maybe one or two others to support it.
  6. Differentiate. Why will your community tell their friends to follow your primary channel? If you can’t answer that question, then I promise you that they can’t.
  7. Be consistent, and be relentless. It’s going to be hard, and it’s going to feel slow, and every week will get better. The best way to stunt your growth is to sprint, stall, sprint. Instead, set a recurring task for yourself and stick to it.
  8. Invest like it’s real business, because it is. Create great content with your time, money, or both. Then, once you have a great content, get it in front of as many people by hustling, advertising, or both.
  9. Batch your content. This one fixes so many other problems. Take an afternoon, bring a friend along with some props and product and shoot 30 photos. Or lock yourself in your office one Saturday and write 5 blog posts. The result is high quality content that you can publish over the next month, and your followers will all wonder how you had time to fit it all in.

The magic of this stuff is that it’s an appreciating asset. Every time that you take a step forward you build your audience, trust, relationships and, ultimately, your social equity.

Until social, our efforts came and went in the form of press hits, billboard ads, or event sponsorship that was forgotten as soon as they came down. Think about what you’re building, how it can become more valuable each week, and why people will care.

When done well, this stuff is fun, and nothing is more fun that publishing content that both you and your community is fired up about. Do the work, focus on the way that you can offer value, and then ignore all of the shiny toys that will distract you along the way – they’re not going to help you achieve your goals.

How about a real-live example? A while back I wrote up a post about a good friend’s business that is doing all of these things exceptionally well. I hope that it’s valuable to you:

@HeyKokomo Social Media Success Story

And, I’ll leave you with this little bonus: Sometimes starting with a strategy and setting your channels up right pays off months, or even years later.