Social media strikes fear into the hearts of most business people I talk to, and for good reason. To many people it is something you do in your free time as a social connection (or to play games) but not for business, so turning it into a business tool feels like your infiltrating a hostile, foreign country. On top of that, all the publicity over social media blunders by companies just adds to the fear that you can’t do it.
Here are the most common concerns from people when faced with the idea of jumping into the social media pool.
- Where do I begin?
- I don’t know what to do
- i don’t know what not to do
- I don’t have the time
- What services should I use?
- What if I make a mistake?
If you are contemplating social media then I bet at least one of these, if not all of them, has entered your mind. I can’t deny the realities of social media and that the fears do have some relevance-I have had all the fears myself-but at the same time you shouldn’t let that stop you from trying it out as there are some incredible opportunities. One of the huge benefits is that you can reach out to people to remind them of your business as opposed to waiting for them to come find you.
Keep in mind that while all social media experts will tell you that you have to be in social media or your business will die (that may be a slight exaggeration but I have heard that from some social media experts) but I firmly believe that some businesses and/or some people should not be involved. I don’t have a list of businesses that shouldn’t be in social media, because it would be strictly based on the particular aspects of that business, however people who have no writing skills, poor spelling and grammar, no sense of what is proper or inappropriate, no time or no judgement abilities, are likely to cause more harm than good.
Here are a few tips to get started but keep in mind that this isn’t a complete list and you will have to judge what is truly best for your business.
- Reject unrealistic fears. Subconsciously, many business owners feel that the idea of starting up with a social media site like Facebook is like starting a new website where you have to come up with completely new content and ideas. That would cause me concern as well. Think of each social media site as a way to support your current website and to funnel business into the site. When you have a new feature or product in your website, mention it on social media and link back to your website for more details.
- What social media sites will work for your business? You don’t have to do them all. Pick one or two that you think would be an easy fit and start with those. You can always add more later. Facebook and Google+ are great starting points.
- Make a plan ahead of time. What will you post? What won’t you post? How often will you post? How will one site work differently than another? It is also good to have a few ideas of what to post when everything else is in a dry spell. Try not to just post info about the latest specials as it makes it easier for people to ignore. Throw in tips and tricks, answers to common questions, unusual ways to use particular products, testimonials, etc.
- Research what other businesses are doing? Some businesses are doing it well and others…not so well. You can learn from both. Get ideas from others to help you along and you won’t feel so burdened to come up with everything on your own.
- Track results! Determine ahead of time what your goals are, even for each post, and how you will decide if they are successful or not. If one idea isn’t working then try another. Refine and rework an idea before giving up. Try different ideas at different times.
- Evaluate the results at predetermined times. Don’t just run on auto pilot. Stop and research the effort and results and make changes where necessary. If you don’t decide ahead of time when you will evaluate, it is less likely to happen.
- Ask for someone else’s opinion. It’s easy to get stuck inside a box without realizing it. Stop and ask trusted people or companies, who are outside of your business, if they see anything you should change. You might get some surprisingly good ideas because of someone else has a different set of experiences.
One important item to be aware of before you start, don’t expect your social media ventures to be one way, regardless of which service you use. If your customers take to it then you can be sure they will post questions, comments, praise and even frustrations. All of which will need appropriate and prompt responses.
Now go for it and keep in mind one last potential beneficial side effect, social media can help your search engine rankings. That should tip the scales a little.