One of the greatest challenges facing small businesses that want to engage with customers and prospects via social media is coming up with content. Small business owners are great at running their businesses, but few are also professional writers on the side. Here’s some great news: social media is not perfect. In fact, perfectionism may be the bane of social media. The emphasis behind “social” is on being real, being transparent and having your company speak with a human voice. An occasional misspelled word or using imperfect grammar is not only acceptable, but is often viewed as refreshing and humanizing.
Let’s delve into the transparency aspect for moment. At my live seminars, I often ask audience members about their business, and recently found that one of the attendees was the owner of a hobby store with nine employees. They sell radio-controlled airplanes, cars and boats. I asked how his employees act when FedEx or UPS delivers the newest, hottest item. The response, as expected, was, “They practically fight over each other to be the first to open the box!” What do you think would have the biggest impact? A professionally produced television commercial or using a smart phone or flip-style video camera to tape thirty seconds of true excitement and posting it on YouTube? You can’t fake enthusiasm and there’s nothing more powerful than reality.
More good news: over half the content on social is shared content. Finding and sharing can be as impactful as creating! I live in the digital marketing space. It’s my hobby, my passion and my vocation. I read everything about digital marketing I can get my hands on, which means that on most days, I scan dozens of blogs that relate to digital marketing. When I find something that I think would be important to my readers or would resonate with my audience, I simply hit a button and share what I found by posting the link to Facebook or Twitter. My followers are small business owners; marketing is important to them, but they can’t justify the time to stay as current as I do because they have a business to run and their own area of expertise to explore in detail. I’m serving as a filter for them and trading my expertise for their attention, building loyalty and differentiating myself by saving them time. All of you are experts at what you do in comparison to your customers. Put that expertise, that experience, to work for you by sharing what you know and what you find valuable via social media.
How do you know if your content (what you’ve found or what you’ve created) is social-worthy? Good social content should always pass two tests: first, is it likely that your followers will want to share it with their followers? Second, will it incite your followers to comment on it? This second test leads to one of the most compelling properties of social media. When you post something that many people comment on, they’re essentially creating new content for you, on your behalf, as advocates for you. Remember when Tom Sawyer got all of his friends to whitewash the fence for him? Perhaps credit for inventing social media marketing should go to Mark Twain.