Social Media And Small Businesses: 5 Simple Steps For Success
1. Have a Clear Goal (or Goals)
Before we judge “success” or ability to perform well with social media, we need to have clear goals aligned to the work. Many times I am contacted by small and large businesses alike to “fix” a flawed social media campaign, and if I had a dollar for every time I’m asked something like this; “I’ve been posting on Facebook every day for a year, but we have no new fans and nobody does anything. What’s wrong?” I’d have multiple homes in some choice places. 😉 When I ask, “What is your goal?” the businesses often don’t know…and that my friends, is the #1 problem. What exactly do you hope to achieve with your social media? Is it to drive new business? It is to sell more product? Or is to help people be healthy? You have to know what the goal, or goals are, before you even write a single post. And when you write, the most important things are…
2. Have a Purpose With Your Posts
What is wrong, in 99% of the channels I have seen, is a lack of purpose with the post–even if it has an overall goal aligned to your business, the post just doesn’t have a point. Do you want people to share something with you, such as a story, or a photo, or a comment? Would you like them to use a code and buy something? Do you want them to share the post? Each post, each tweet, each Instagram picture needs to have a point to it.
3. Stay on Brand
Understanding your brand, and knowing how to stay “on brand” is really difficult to do when your brand has an identity crisis. It’s the reason I generally won’t work with clients unless they have a solid understanding of their business brand. A client of mine who runs a successful skincare business is an example of a strong brand–she knows what differentiates her not simply in terms of services or products, but her overall mission of the blend of high-tech and organic. Plus, she believes in nutrition, fitness, and general appreciation of the arts as keys to looking and feeling good. That’s a brand, and any time she does anything, whether it is sending an email or posting on Facebook, she embraces the mission statement of her brand.
4. Be Consistent
Next up would be lack of consistency–when the channel posts are all over the place not only in terms of what they say/content, but the timing. For example, posting at 9am one day, but 11pm the next…going for weeks without posting…and then two weeks straight of daily posts. Oh, no! It is inconsistent. Be careful to not only stay on brand, and be consistent with your topic types (you can have multiple types of “themes” that you post, but stay aligned with your brand), but also with your frequency and schedule of posting.
5. Build a Relationship
Broadcast posting is common–almost as if you are a newspaper and just talking, without engaging your fans in a conversation. The whole beauty of social media is that it is instantaneously interactive! I’m assuming you actually do want to know what your fans think and want…so be sure to include them in your posts. Have a conversation with them, and write back to them if they comment on a post, or start a post. It is a two-way street online.
Real-World Example of Dos and Don’ts
I’m going to give you an example of a health company (company name withheld) with some issues with their Facebook channel that I was asked to assess, because I find that examples can help showcase principles in action. After just three days I was able to identify 99% of the problem, and, they came down to three of the 5 things listed above.
- No Relationship Building: On Monday, the business posted about healthy recipes with a link to an article on a major newspaper. Good content, but there wasn’t any opinion about why they liked the article, or were posting it in general. And there was no call to action, or relationship building. An example call to action could be “What are your healthiest recipes?” or “What foods do you love that keep you healthy.” Or even, “What do you think?” You want to ask something of your fans, and it really can be as simple as asking their opinion. You want to engage your fans, rather than simply telling them something.
- Inconsistent Frequency: The next day, no post at all. No worries in general–every day posting isn’t needed. The problem I had with this (because I had a problem with it), is that for the prior three weeks, they posted daily Monday-Friday. So skipping a day when a post would normally appear is inconsistent. In general, your fans rely on consistency from you. I’ve often equated this to a relationship or a friendship. It’s fine if you know to expect you’ll hear from someone a few days a week–but when you hear from someone daily….and then you don’t…it can be jarring. You are building a relationship on your social media.
- Brand Identity Issues: The following day, a post about technology–which had no alignment with the company brand, goals, or purpose. It felt like a random post, and it was. When I asked the business owner why that was posted, they said most of their audience works in technology. That’s great, knowing your audience is important. But an article on say, why working on your computer 10+ hours a day can be detrimental to your health would be more aligned with the company brand and mission…a random post is just a random post. Your fans are smarter than that and they can sense when you are posting random articles in an attempt to appease them. It feels almost manipulative, and manipulation never works in relationships.
Three days, three issues around things that are relatively easy to fix. Instead of hiring me or another expensive consultant to help you see immediate results in your social media, try these 5 things first, and let me know what happens. You’ll be surprised at how quickly these 5 things will give you results, and meet those goals that you’ve now established.
Stephanie SawchenkoJune 25, 2013 at 9:04 pm
I like this a lot. Different from my perspective which is more visual design focused, I can’t help myself though.
I see problem # 5 a LOT. People assume that just broadcasting their message works. It doesn’t. It’s not enough for somebody to just see your post, they will forget it as soon as they scroll away. It’s MUCH more memorable if they REACT to your post – and it’s funner too!
I had a client who was pessimistic about interacting with people online and actually removed comments from his blog. Then claimed the comments were broken. This sends so many bad messages to your audience I don’t even know where to begin explaining why this is wrong. The truth is my client wanted to be lazy and didn’t want to spend the time interacting with people. The irony is, he never needed to spend that much time interacting with people in order to get a HUGE return from his audience. But since he didn’t even try building any relationships to begin with he won’t ever get that return.
Julie Elaine BrownJune 26, 2013 at 12:50 am
Hi Stephanie! Thank you for the comment. Yeah it is interesting since visual design and UX is still based ultimately in establishing a good relationship with a fan/client.
#5 and the scenario you are describing has happened to me a lot with clients…
People often get fearful about how to react/respond to either A) negative posts or B) posts in which they don’t know quite how to respond.
The reality is, people have an opportunity to actually fix a customer service problem by responding.
Fans are forgiving of human mistakes, as long as the mistake is acknowledged, and a remedy/solution is given. And…if you don’t know quite how to respond, write something along those lines. It’s much much better to respond than ignore.
Deleting someone is a no, no, no and I agree with you that it is the antithesis of building a relationship with a fan–in addition to potentially damaging the relationship with all of your fans…
Anyway glad you enjoyed this. I’m inspired to write a “what to never ever ever do online” post now…and include the deletion thing….;)