nielsen-landscape-time-spent-increase-video-social-media-february-2009Most small business owners are interested in social media.

If they are active on a few sites, they want to know if what they are doing is working.  If they are not active at all, they want to know what all the fuss is about.

It struck me yesterday, at a talk I gave at SCORE Orange County (at the invite of Morgan Smith, owner of Boneheads Restaurant and Tom Patty, retired President of TBWA\Chiat\Day) that we should begin every discussion on social media with one huge warning.

Social media could kill your business.

There are two ways this can happen:

1.  You overpay an “expert” to run a social media campaign you can not afford, or

2.  You take the DIY approach and kiss your valuable selling and marketing time goodbye.

In this environment, every small business owner (especially those just starting out) needs to be devoting 50% or more of their time selling and marketing their business.

And if you think that you can just set up a bunch of accounts everywhere and take advantage of automation apps and scripts, you will do more harm than good.

The hands-down best approach for small business owners and social media is to be a tortoise.

A well-meaning, interested, caring, genuine, plodding tortoise.

Go one at a time and learn from your experience before moving on to the next network.

There are plenty of stories of small businesses who just use Twitter for example and have had tremendous success.

But for every one of those, there are many others who quickly get lost in the vortex of distraction that social media can create.

I speak from experience when I say you must avoid the easy thing and carve out a set amount of time for your social media efforts.

It is just way too easy to get sucked into one more conversation or interesting article.

Pick your blog or Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn and just kill it there before you move on to the next one.

That’s my advice.

And yours?