Social media procrastination is a two-edged PR problem for business
Large numbers of people in the English-speaking world have doubtless grown up with constant reminders from parents, grandparents and other wise relatives that “procrastination is the thief of time”.
The saying comes from a meditative work by the 18th century English poet, playwright and priest Edward Young – and some 300 years after it was first penned it still holds true in the era of social media.
It’s unbelievably easy to procrastinate with services such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. And in business, that can be a serious problem.
There are two kinds of corporate social media procrastinators:
The former can be dealt with through good management: the latter through personal discipline, specialist recruitment or a decision to outsource.
Businesses should use social media for three key reasons – all driven by the need to attract customers online and physically:
It’s really about reputation management, developing favourable perceptions of the organisation (and occasionally handling the odd crisis) – in essence, another tool in the public relations kit.
Large organisations have it easy if they can support one or more staff members dedicated to the three key processes identified above. But in the SME sector that’s a luxury many businesses simply cannot afford.
Owners of the smallest businesses need to strike a sensible balance with their social media activity, building regular slots into their personal daily schedules to allow for selective scanning of news and comment and time for outbound messaging and response where necessary. Even the most hard-pressed solo entrepreneur should be able to find five or 10 minutes a day to communicate in his way.
Larger businesses in the SME environment may find it more convenient to entrust the social media responsibility to a specialist, such as a public relations consultant with competence in this area and the ability to treat social media as a natural extension of traditional PR tactics. This also helps to ensure consistency of messaging across all communication channels.
The specialist is perhaps also better placed to provide a synopsis of social media trends and track results of a client’s posts. Statistics now available from Twitter, for example, provide considerable insight into daily activity and the performance of individual messages – pointing towards a measurable return on investment in social media.
So the advice to time-starved managers who are lagging in the social media race is simple: make a commitment – today!
David Goddin was born in the UK and educated in South Africa. He began his career on daily newspapers and trade journals, before moving into public relations consulting. He produced award-winning writing and became an Accredited PR Practitioner, the highest qualification of the Public Relations Institute of South Africa. Since his return to the UK 16 years ago he has also contributed to a number of highly successful PR and marketing communications campaigns for major national and multinational clients. He is currently also President of the Haslemere & District Chamber of Trade & Commerce.