Social Media & Product Management (Pt. 5)

(Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 See also, supplement)

Continuing the discussion of employing social media as a component of the product management toolset…

Up Front Time Needed

jtpedersen_time suck_social media_product managementOne of the key reasons product managers eschew using social media, is that it requires more time than they care to invest.  Often, they have an improper perception of social media mechanics.

One cannot simply set up a website, put out a few pictures and posts, and expect comments (let alone quantifiable input) to start rolling in the next day.

Social media is all about relationship building.  Developing your social media network draws a very close parallel to networking, to relationship building in person.

You wouldn’t go to a networking event, introduce yourself to people, shake their hand, give them a business card, then wonder why they didn’t offer you a lead, tip, or job.  It doesn’t work that way.  Yet, too many people seem to try approaching social media in exactly that manner.

As with in-person networking (read: Networking Magic) you need to invest time.  And, invest is precisely the right word here.  You make an ongoing, persistent, consistent effort to build on your relationships.  Only after an extended period will you start to see results in the form of follower engagement and feedback.

Of course, how long that ‘extended period’ is, is directly related to how much of your own effort you put in up front.  Many bloggers will tell you, the more active you are online (across the board), the stronger your follower base is and the more engaged they will be.  Posting daily gives better returns than once a week.  Posting daily or weekly, gets far better return than posting monthly or less (who are you again?).

Social Media is a Time Suck!

Realizing the gist of the preceding discussion some folks fall into another trap.  Realizing they need to invest time, they treat the effort as a sprint, pouring tons of time into their social media networking efforts. And are then tremendously dissatisfied at the results of their effort.

Pouring tons of effort in, getting little out, is perceived as a, ‘time suck.’

The reality is, employing social media as a tool requires a constructive approach, one more like a marathon than a sprint.  You cannot force results to happen.  You need to develop, to nurture them.

Amber Naslund, Brass Tack Thinking, wrote a good piece that ties in here well. In

The Social Media Time Suck Is Our Own Fault, she points out, “Everything worthwhile in business requires time….can become a waste of time…if the strategy and implementation is considered in isolation, apart from the ripple effect it can and will have through the rest of the business.”

She continues, “Adapting how we work isn’t easy, but it’s necessary and it’s not new. We adapted to the phone. We adapted to the emergence of the web and email, and learned how to integrate these things into how we build and operate our companies. There’s good uses of all of those things, and there are complete wastes of time.  Social’s value is still partially hidden in – or hindered by – our adaptability and vision.

If there’s a waste of time involved, it’s based in errors of human judgment and not in the nature of social itself.”

To get a decent return on social media, like any investment, requires an initial plan.  What do you want to accomplish? What do you need to learn? How will you execute? And, how will you measure your results, and adapt as necessary?  Without any planning, without conscious awareness of what you’re looking to achieve, social media can indeed simply become a resource hog, a time-suck, with sorry returns.  Don’t be that guy (or gal)!

image credit: Dario Lucarini

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