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I'm a consultant, and for consultants, nothing beats being proactive, huh? You want to be ahead of the curve, up on the latest, and [insert your favorite cliché here]. But social media is so new, and it changes so fast, that it's really painful to be proactive. It's enormously time consuming to have spent so much time in social media that you are ahead of the curve. You'd have no time for your real business. I am advising you to shoot a lot lower. When it comes to social media, aspire to be reactive.
Last week, I wrote a post on Biznology about being prepared to use paid search for a PR crisis. In a meeting with a really smart client yesterday, I realized that I should have been thinking bigger.
My point last week is that when a crisis hits, you can't start figuring out how to get a Google account, how to use the keyword tool, and how to submit the paid search ad to tell your side of the story. But the same is true for social media.
If someone starts ripping you in a blog, you need to already be monitoring what is being said about you (with Google Alerts perhaps) to be ready to comment. If someone starts taking you to task in Twitter, you ought to have your company Twitter handle registered so you can respond. The moment the crisis hits is not the time to be figuring out the basics. It's the moment to figure out the message.
And I understand that not every kind of social media is right for every business. And I know that you might not need to devote lots of time to social media if it isn't the most important part of your marketing at the moment. But if you've been a social media laggard, I'd urge you to at least get your digital feet wet. At least do the set-up work even if everything lies dormant until you need it.
Time was that only large businesses had to worry about this stuff, but that's changing. Most small businesses are already affected by local newspapers, and by ratings and reviews on Internet Yellow pages and local search sites. There's no reason why social media will be any different.
Are you waiting for the crisis to hit before getting ready? If so, I recommend that you aspire to be reactive by preparing your tools today for the crisis tomorrow.
Mike is an expert in search marketing, search technology, social media, publishing, Web personalization, and Web metrics, who regularly makes speaking appearances.
Mike's previous appearances include ClickZ Live, RKG Summit, Ticket Summit, Webdagene, the CiTE conference, and the Forrester Marketing Conference.
Mike also founded and writes for the Biznology newsletter and blog, is the co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc., and sole author of Do It Wrong Quickly, named by the Miami Herald as one of the 11 best business books of 2007.
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