Social media can rock for small businesses. A presence on one or more social networks lets you talk about and visually share your products and services with your fans and followers – and with whomever within their networks they decide to share with. It opens the door for two-way conversations between you and your audience so you can build rapport – and establish your brand as the business to do business with.
Social media platforms truly present tremendous opportunities – so long as you also accept and act on the responsibility that comes with them. To do that, you need to make sure you can manage your social media involvement.
You would never buy a smartphone only to completely ignore all incoming calls, texts, and voicemail messages. Unfortunately, that’s how some businesses handle their social media presence. There are Facebook pages that haven’t posted an update in months. There are Twitter accounts that haven’t tweeted since 2009. There are LinkedIn profiles that still display the default shadowy silhouette as their profile pic.
Social media takes time and attention, and if you’re not giving yours both of those things, people will notice.
Devoting time and attention to social media is a heck of a lot easier if you haven’t overextended yourself in that arena. Don’t jump in and try every single new online network that comes down the pike. Carefully consider which social media will serve you best before you sign up. In short, find out which ones your customers and prospective customers are actively using. How? Ask them. Or check out which social media networks your competitors are using and observe how much activity is going on there.
And if you’ve already got accounts on social media, evaluate how well you’re keeping up with them before you commit to the latest and greatest thing. It might very well serve your business well, but if you’re not able to consistently engage with followers on your other social networks, there’s a good chance you’ll falter on the new one, too.
Social media is meant to be social. That means you need to be an active participant to derive any benefit for your business. You need to:
Again, it takes time. It takes energy. And all of the networks require varying amounts of those things. Know the frequency of posting that’s effective and acceptable for the networks you’re considering. That can run the gamut from 1 to 2 times per week to 15 times per day. The time you have available for social media – or the feasibility of hiring someone to do it for you – should be among the deciding factors as you zone in on which platforms are right for you.
All that said, before giving the thumbs down to a platform because you don’t believe you’ll have the time to devote to it, consider what tools are available to help you manage your presence there. There are time-saving free web-based and downloadable products that give you “dashboard” views of multiple social media network news feeds at once. Some tools allow you to, with just a click on your web browser, send links directly into a status update that you can either post immediately or schedule for later.
For starters, check out…
Visit their websites to learn about their features and benefits. And you probably won’t have to look very hard to find someone who is using – or has used – at least one of them. Ask them questions about their experiences with these tools.
Making social media a manageable marketing endeavor takes some education and energy. The key is to be realistic about your ability to keep up with your points of online presence so you don’t spread yourself too thin. Consider the time and effort you’ll need to put into it; abstain from jumping on every shiny, brand new platform; know the nuances of individual platforms; and don’t be afraid to use tools. With some careful thought about and dedication to managing your social media, you’ll succeed in keeping your fans and followers engaged while not missing a beat in fulfilling your other responsibilities to your business.