Turning Social Media from a Distraction to a Tool

Social media can consume enormous amounts of your time, but you can turn it from a diversion into a powerful PR tool.The advent of Google+ means more time devoted to yet another social media site. But blogger Corbett Barr says before spreading yourself thinner online, step back and ask what you are trying to accomplish.

"Do you clearly understand what problem or need your business is addressing?" Barr asks in a post on Thinktraffic.net.

Other questions he poses:

• Do you know what segment of the market you are aiming at?

• Do you have killer branding and design for your website or blog?

• Are you consistently producing epic content for your audience?

• Are you engaging your customers within your own platform?

"If you feel like you're spending half of your day on social media, but you haven't nailed these things," Barr says, "you should reset your priorities and probably lay off Twitter for a while."

Barr provides a timely reminder that social media is a tactic, not a strategy. Your target audience, not trends, should determine the critical elements of your strategy.

When you have a clearly differentiated product, service or idea and know who you want to reach, you are ready to design your strategy, which in many cases will involve social media. But social media is only an effective tactic if it helps you connect with your audience and convey your message. Social media is most effective when deeply integrated with your entire strategy.

"Your goal should be to do what is right for your business," Barr advises, "not simply what everyone else seems to be doing or what social media gurus are all excited about right now."

"The key is to start by looking at the bigger picture," he adds. "You have to focus your time relentlessly on what works and stop spending time on what doesn't."

Good advice that we endorse.