Imagine: You phone a friend. It rings two or three times and the machine picks up.

Sorry I can’t take your call right now. Leave me a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. <beep>”

On command, you leave a message and hang up.

Now, you speak with your friend a few days later and realize he never actually checks his voicemail. In fact, he has no idea you called. You’ve been waiting for a call back but were never going to get it.

What exactly is the point in telling friends to leave a message if you’ll never be checking it anyway?

Obviously, voicemail and answering machines are nearly obsolete with today’s multi communication methods, but I digress. The point is, if you say you are reachable, you need to be reachable.

Today’s version of this scenario plays out daily, among socially absent businesses who have tried but failed on the various social media platforms.

Having an inactive account on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, just to be there, but not replying or responding to your customer’s needs, is like parking your company’s logo’d vehicle on the side of the highway with the hood up; billowing smoke.

So often we come across business accounts on Facebook and Twitter or personal accounts on LinkedIn that have been set up but abandoned like the general store in a ghost town.

The obvious issue with this, is once you have a store front, customers will try to come in. When they pull on the door and see there’s no one there, they’ll cup their hands around their face, peer through the window at a room full of product and wonder where you’ve up and left to during business hours. They’ll likely turn away, disgruntled, never to return.

And they’ll tell their friends about their bad experience, too. Loudly.

If you give social media ‘a shot’ and it doesn’t work out, the best thing you can do is delete your account(s) and disappear. If it were a real store front, like in the example above, you’d take down your sign and empty the space out before you leave town.

Unfortunately, business owners will typically abandon ship quickly but leave their accounts active. Very dangerous and very bad for business.

If you are in charge of a personal sales or business account, you’ve learned by now that social media for business takes diligence and requires a strategy. It takes a lot of time and it has to become a consistent daily routine if you want it to be successful.

If you’re not prepared to hire someone to do it for you yet, be prepared to add the necessary extra hours to your day to contribute, manage and respond. Every day.

Take the training. Offer your employees training too so your content can engage the very people you’ve asked to follow you in all these places. This is about what they want to see and hear, not what you want to tell them. Remember, the way you produce social media content isn’t necessarily the same way your followers want to absorb it. Learn what to spend, where to spend and which content your followers crave most.

Stop selling every time you log in.

Social media is not just a place to blast out your ad message every chance you get. It simply won’t work for you if that’s what you think it is. You need a personal voice for questions – asked and answered – while servicing customers with engaging content and insight. You MUST be there for the long haul to see any sort of return but ‘return’ can’t even be your expectation.

Being on social media and actually being ON social media are two totally different things. It’s definitely time to take your social media for business, seriously.

So, which part of social media are you struggling with the most? Are you consistent? Are you spending time and money to get the best exposure you can? Please leave a message after the beep and be sure to tweet, post or comment on any of our social media channels – we’re active everywhere because that’s the whole point. 😉