One of the things we typically see SMBs needing help with is navigating the dos and don’ts of social media for business. Almost without exception, our prospective clients have already dipped a toe into the social networks by the time they approach us. Not all clients are as proficient with the technical aspect of using social media – some may be daunted by a constantly changing Facebook interface, or confused by hashtags on Twitter and Instagram. Others have no problem tackling the mechanics, but may actually be driving people away from their brand by limiting their posts to self-promotional content.
Once a prospect becomes a client and we start to work with them on their social media marketing strategy, the first thing we do is walk them through these five basics:
- Don’t try to be everywhere, all at once. One of the biggest mistakes we see small business owners make with their social presence is trying to be everywhere at once. This usually manifests itself in a company having set up profiles on Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc., with no idea what to do next. Having a bare profile page is almost worse than having nothing at all. Another typical newbie error is just posting the same content to every social channel.There are hundreds of social networks and it can be difficult to know which ones are the best fit for your business. Assess whatever it is you’re selling (whether it’s goods or services), know who your customers are, and then figure out where those people hang out online. This can be tricky and there are many factors to consider, but this article in the Small Business Resource Guide from CNN Money can help you start eliminating those that you know aren’t going to be a good fit.
- Adhere to the 80/20 rule! It’s difficult for hard working entrepreneurs to NOT talk about their business! They are obviously enthusiastic about what they do (at least, the successful ones are) and they are driven to promote themselves to the degree that it’s hard for them to tone it down on the social channels. But social media is about building relationships – not pitching your stuff! In this post from Social Media Today, Community Manager Sofie De Buele provides guidance for just what the 80% and 20% of your social messaging should contain.
- Give stuff away. This is basically the same principle – and the same dilemma – for small business owners, who don’t generally have a lot to give away. But it doesn’t have to be a physical or monetary reward – you can share a special tip or piece of expert advice, or a nice photo of one of your employees. This makes you look generous and showcases your knowledge and/or business culture, which goes a long way to building a credible presence on the social networks.
- Read your feeds every morning, and share other people’s content. The social channels are for socializing, so be sure to get to know some of your peers. Earlier this year, Ted Rubin (co-author of Return on Relationships), was interviewed by Michael Stelzner’s on his Social Media Podcast. Rubin likes to say that “relationships are the new currency” and describes how to cultivate them on social media.
- Make a plan stick with it. Even our social media savvy business clients have trouble keeping it up – they are too busy running their businesses! One of the first things we ask our clients is whether or not they have someone inside their business to monitor and manage their social media campaigns.