5 Ways to Stop Cutting the Brown Grass in Social Media

When are you going to stop cutting the brown grass of PR?

During summer a few years ago, I was on my way to a meeting and I saw something that made me scratch my head. We were going through one of those incredibly dry summers and local watering bans had caused all known forms of vegetation to wither and die. Snapshots of our community could have easily doubled for the Sahara.

Naturally, in the absence of water, all the grass had died and turned brown yet I stood there and watched as a team of landscapers busily cut, trimmed and weed wacked away as if we lived in the tropics during rainy season and the grass had shot up a healthy two inches since their last sweep of the office park.

“For Pete’s sake,” I thought, “why in the world would they spend time cutting grass that was obviously dead?”

2012 was predicted to be the obvious maturation of social media for businesses. Reaching past the “shiny new object” status deeper into data and analytics and into new applications like targeted visual content generation, mobile, and real-time responses, this was the year we all could roll up our sleeves, dig in the garden, and reap the social media crops we had been cultivating for the past few years.

A quick look across the social landscape reveals that most of us are doing exactly that – capitalizing on the communities we worked so hard to build (and continue to grow). Yet, we also can sense that there are still those who are continuing to mow the brown grass of social media, clinging to concepts that have little or no impact on the overarching strategies that businesses should have in place by now. Here are five warning signs that you may be clipping the brown grass and posts on how to snap out of your rut and get back on track:

  1. Stop worrying about the numbers and focus on quality – I think there are more people out there who do this than would actually admit it but for crying out loud, when will we all learn that the quality of the communities we build always trumps the quantity. Number of followers, “Likes,” retweets, etc. are all tangible metrics but rarely do they tie back into any sort of credible or  worthwhile KPI’s or strategies. Jason Mollica did a great job on PRBC post last week of summarizing how to fine tune your social focus.
  2. Adjust your social media sharing to capitalize on peak reach days and timesSomehow, somewhere I must have missed the post on “Flood Your Social Networks With Hundreds of Posts and Tweets during the Hours of 9am to 5pm” blog post. The fact is, each business is different and it’s up to us to customize our sharing strategies into a model that best serves our community and goals. For a good example on how to do this on Twitter, Matt Royse wrote a good post on when brands should tweet for the greatest reach.
  3. Producing mass content just for the sake of SEOA lot of times, this rut can be directly attributable to the C-level breathing down your neck to produce – and produce quickly. Impactful content takes time to create and adroit concentration to make share worthy. Stop cranking out the blog posts and firing up the video editing software until you stop and think of the quality your community expects and what truly will resonate. Learn to master the art of storytelling. Corey Eridon over at Hubspot did a good job recently of giving us some tips on how to master the art of storytelling.
  4. Flying blindly through the air in social media without a strategyI challenge everyone to perform a field test. Blindfold yourself, spin around 10 times and throw three darts at a dartboard from 15 feet away. How many hit the board? Are you still operating within the social media realm without any strategy or goals in place?  Amy Porterfield wrote a helpful post we can all benefit from on 3 steps to an effective social media strategy.
  5. Prioritizing speaking rather than listening on your social media channelsIf we’ve heard it once, we have heard it a bazillion times — develop a strategy to listen and not miss out on opportunities to be involved in conversations in social media. Yet, a lot of us aren’t quite sure what tools and platforms we can use to monitor the web and get our elephant ears on to ensure that if someone is talking about us, we are there to listen and chip in if necessary. Lisa Gerber recently wrote a helpful post over at SpinSucks outlining 5 steps to a social media listening program.

Are you still cutting the brown grass? Or have you abandoned the antiquated social media approach in favor of one that is more targeted and productive?

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