Barry’s advice: 1. Remember, it’s promotion. Don’t be confused. Social media is one of the “4Ps” in the marketing mix. (The 4Ps are Product, Price, Promotion, Place.) Treat it like any other promotional tool in your marketing plan, such as trade shows or direct mail.
The Reality: Remember, it’s NOT JUST promotion. Social media is firmly established in marketing, yes, BUT it also carries over into customer service heavily, and can include elements of public relations and product development. Pushing social media into the marketing box will make you less effective. People hate marketing messages. That is why there are DVR’s and mute buttons. People respond to businesses on social media because they are SOCIAL. They don’t try to manipulate or shout at their customers, but instead seek to provide them value, educate them, motivate them, thank them, and help them. If you want an effective social media campaign, focus on those things. Bonus: It’s easy! It’s human. You don’t need a copywriter or a graphic designer or a professional photographer. You just need to be able to tell the story of you business daily. That in and of itself should take the anxiety out of it.
Barry’s advice: 2. Stick to your company’s marketing goal. Ask yourself what role you want social media to play in forming relationships and promoting your business. Set a time and cost investment limit and stick to it.
The Reality: You definitely should have a budget for your social media activities. READ: Have a budget. Social media is technically free, as far as being on the platforms, but you should be willing to invest a small amount of your marketing budget (some companies do 1% some do 10%, some bet the farm). This money goes towards creating media, buying apps, hiring a company to run your social media presence, social monitoring software, etc. But if nothing else, you should spend some time with a digital marketing agency to develop an overall strategy and blueprint for your social media presence. This will take the guess work out of it for you the business owner, and give you a solid plan of attack so you are spending less time on it and getting the maximum results. Now THAT’s an anxiety reliever!
Barry’s advice: 3. Pick one platform. You can’t do it all, nor would you want to. Use the social media tool that personally feels most comfortable. Do you like to talk in shorter (Twitter) or longer (Facebook) conversations? Do you like to express yourself with pictures (Facebook and Pinterest)? Do you like to be helpful and answer people’s professional questions (LinkedIn)? Do you like to give or get referrals (LinkedIn)?
The Reality: I can see the thought process behind this point, but here’s another point: If most of your target audience watched TV instead of listening to the radio, what kind of sense would it make to advertise on the radio? If you’re smart, you’d never do that. Same thing with the social media platforms you choose. You need to go where your customers are. Now, a better point would be: It’s okay to only be on one platform. You can’t do it all, so don’t spread yourself to thin. Focus on one platform (the one where your customers are) first, and then expand from there if you feel comfortable. Don’t sacrifice quality for quantity, and don’t stress yourself out.
A good digital marketing agency will be able to research and tell you what platform you should be on, and can train you (and your staff) to use it effectively in a small amount of time each day.
Barry’s advice: 4. Shut off the notifications. Shut off the flashing or buzzing notifications on your computer or smartphone whenever there is a new post or tweet. For some of you, this will be very hard initially. However, it is the fastest way to relieve your anxiety and focus your time on what really needs to get done.
The Reality: Okay, this point is WAY off. Small business owners must not forget that social media is also a platform for customer service. It’s a two way conversation, unlike every other marketing medium. If someone posts on your Facebook or tweets your business, you should know about it IMMEDIATELY, just as if they were calling your store. It might be a complaint that you need to address before people think that you are ignoring it (or post it on google reviews and it scars you for life), it might be a question about what time you’re open that day so that a customer knows when to come in. You cannot schedule a time to answer questions or inquiries like that.
A better point would be: delegate. Do you have a receptionist or someone that answers phone calls? Have them receive the notifications and give them the permissions to respond appropriately.
Barry’s advice: 5. Schedule “social media” time. It is just like any other activity in your company. Choose a time frame when you will work the social media tools, and stick to it. Don’t log on without a plan.
The Reality: This is the best point. A plan is VERY important. When you have a plan, you don’t have to waste time figuring out what you are going to post every day or where you are going to get content. Like I said with point #2, work with a digital marketing agency or a social media consultant to build out a plan for what kind of content you will post on your social media accounts. They can help you with figuring out what types of posts will get the best response, and they can also guide you in developing messages that achieve your business objectives.
Once you have this plan, you can go throughout your day and recognize the type of content that fits in with your strategy. You can then write it down, take a photo or save it in one place for you to draw from when you are ready to post to your social media accounts. You should also schedule out your posts using Facebook scheduled posts, Hootsuite or a similar program so that you aren’t posting all at one time, or posting when your customers are offline.
Barry’s advice: 6. Separate personal vs. professional. To prevent social media from getting too personal, have a separate ID for your personal posts and one strictly for business. This will prevent you from doing personal things when using the business ID.
The Reality: I disagree with this point as well, to a certain degree. You need to have a human face or voice on your brand wherever possible on social media. People don’t build relationships with logos, they build relationships with other people. If people know they are talking with a real human rather than just someone hiding behind a company logo, they are more responsive, friendly, and forgiving. That’s what you want! Be personal, be authentic, be open, because that is what is going to build brand loyalty and truly connect you with your customers. You can still have a logo account and be personal at the same time. We do this over at Shift Digital, we have our @ShiftDM twitter account that’s our logo, but we have the names of those who update it in our bio and we include our initials on it whenever we tweet.
Barry’s advice: 7. Practice moderation. Just like everything else, use social media in moderation. It will be a giant step forward.
The Reality: This is pretty much a moot point but yes, don’t obsess about social media because there’s no need. You’ve got tons of other things to worry about. But in order not to stress about it you do need to develop a plan, and talking with a digital marketing agency or social media consultant will go a LONG way in relieving your stress and anxiety towards social media. If you still want to DIY it, follow one or two really good social media blogs and just spend a little time each week reading and learning, and integrate what you learn into your daily plan.
What do you think? Are there any tips you would add? Are there any of my points you disagree with? Let me know in the comment section.
As Co-Founder & Social Lead at Outspective, Brittany Botti gives businesses the outside perspective they need to take full advantage of the opportunities that social media and a solid online presence provide. She has developed social media marketing & online strategy for family businesses, nonprofits, athletes, cities, start ups & mid size companies. Brittany's goal is to make every business ...