There’s a lot of excitement out there revolving around Social Media, and how to use it to build relationships and grow your business.

It’s easy to get excited, or feel passionate, about these relatively new tools as they have the ability to distribute our messages, advance our causes, find those from whom to learn and share our knowledge with people all over the world.

What we need to be careful about is how we view Social Media.  Social Media are not Marketing Plans.  They are media.  They are communication vehicles.  They are the tools, or tactics, we choose once we have prepared a carefully thought out Marketing Plan that takes in to consideration factors such as:

  • Our target clients
  • The kind of work we do
  • The kind of work we’d like to do
  • How the market feels about the kind of work we do
  • What opportunities lie ahead in our areas of expertise
  • Who our competition is
  • How our competition markets itself
  • The resources we have
  • Those resources we need to have
  • The messages we want to share with each type of client
  • Where we would like to perform the work
  • Where each of these target groups spends most of their time learning, reading and networking
  • …and much more.

Once we have thought through these components of a Marketing Plan, then our approach should be to determine what tactics, including  Social Media, would help accomplish all we defined in that Plan.

I know, that sounds daunting, and who wants to slow down long enough to work through that process?  Who has time?  I understand because I, too, don’t always like slowing down long enough to be strategic on my own behalf. I love doing it for my clients, but I have to force myself to be disciplined to do it for myself.

There is no way to cut the process short if you want to build a business on a firm foundation.  How can you practice law before going to law school?  How can you play golf before learning how to swing a club?  How can you install memory chips in smart phones before learning how they fit, and where they go?

The answer to each of these is, of course, you can’t, or you can’t expect to do it right if you haven’t first taken time to educate yourself on what needs to be done, and in what sequence.  Your practice and your business are no different.

If you are committed to building a sustainable business, then it must be based on the facts you have gathered and learned first, not to mention those you will learn along the way.  Once you do this, you have a blueprint that will reinforce the business decisions you are faced with every day.  This blueprint makes it much easier to say yes, or no, to the questions asked of you, to eliminate random acts of marketing as much as possible and to pick those marketing tactics that make sense for your situation, not someone else’s.

Yes, get excited about Social Media.  But remember that these tools are complements to your marketing plan and efforts.  They should not exist in isolation, but in tandem with those tactics you have chosen because you planned first.

Thank you very much to Dhiego Andrade for the use of his image above.

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  • Great information here, Nancy. Too many people think they can tweet it and forget it. We must use social media to build relationships, and then incorporate that into our marketing plan. Building a business foundation is crucial to our success.

  • I don’t see any reason how someone could read your great summation and still think they don’t need to “bother” with Twitter, Facebook, etc. Good job! 🙂

  • You nailed this one right on the head Nancy! Another great post on the importance on having a strategy in your social media plan.

  • I find it odd how many people are one-sided on this; a lot of traditionalists ignoring social media, and a lot of new media strategists spending all their time on Twitter, leaving traditional marketing at the door. We’ve addressed this balancing act a lot lately when speaking with associates new to social media.

    Thanks for another great, well-written piece, Nancy.

  • Thanks Josh! It’s too early to declare any one tool as the winner or loser. We have to be more creative than that, and look at how we can update, and even modify, traditional tools with social tactics. Thanks for your comment!

  • Thanks Samantha. It’s not always easy to step by and create strategy, but it sure creates a much more organized and focused marketing effort. Glad you stopped by!

  • Well, thanks Evelyn! I appreciate your kindness.

  • You’re right Connie. If it works to forget people in face-to-face networking, then go ahead and do it in social too. I would guess that’s not the case though!

  • As usual, great post, Nancy. As those of us who have decided to plunge into social networking know, it can be daunting, challenging but also very rewarding. It is amazing how these SM connections can and have turned into some really nice relationships. Having those face-to-face follow-up connections just puts the finishing touch on the building process. Forging ahead with SM such as Twitter or Facebook, without a plan, is like wandering aimlessly. Always look forward to seeing you on the SM channels. Maybe some day we will get to meet at a conference or however our paths may cross.

  • Brian, thank you for such kind comments. It’s so nice to have you here! It’s hard to communicate just how special many of our relationships are until people actually jump in and experience them for themselves. They are very real, and are rewarding on many levels, aren’t they? Thanks again for stopping by, and for sharing.