I met a dog walking friend in the park (a dog walking friend is someone who you only see when you are out with your dog, you know their dog’s name, you may in time learn their name but you do not know where they live or the names of their children). The dog walking friend was lamenting the amount of time it takes to keep on top of social media. This was not that they had insufficient time to keep up casual acquaintances and post pictures of themselves having an unfeasibly good time. This was someone running a successful small business who recognised that social was a great (free) way of publicising their product but was overwhelmed by the time it takes to feed the social media monster every day.
A large part of my job is running social media accounts. I sympathise with anyone struggling to keep up with the constant demand for content. In a smaller, product based business, there are days when simply nothing happens. There are also many days when you are too busy dealing with customers, suppliers and development to feed the beast. Yes there are scheduling tools you can use but of course, this takes a real commitment of a block of time to have any impact on the rest of your diary.
You may see people who do social really well and wonder what their secret is? If you are finding the commitment too much, here’s a few tips to help you retain your sanity.
Caring For Your Social Media Monster
Don’t try and do it all. It used to be just Facebook, then it was Twitter. Then you needed a YouTube channel and of course if you don’t have Instagram, you’re nowhere. Think about your product and your personality. Choose the channel that suits you and your customers. If you have a highly visual product, the chances are you are creative person and Instagram is a gift to you. For a local business with lots of footfall and a community feel, Twitter is great. With an e-commerce site, Facebook is the best place to promote your products. Concentrate on doing one platform well, the rest can follow.
Be yourself. Your business has a personality – it can be quirky, innovative, friendly, fast-paced. Your social should follow this tone – if you make people laugh in face to face interactions, you can make them smile on social. Don’t try too hard to project an image, your audience are looking for authenticity.
Get others involved. As a business owner, you probably feel like you don’t need the distraction of constantly checking your phone for likes. However, you may have someone who works for you who is, well, constantly checking their phone. Put their distraction to good use – they will automatically see the shot that might take you ages to construct. Put parameters around their activity, keep tight control on passwords then give them a little space to be an evangelist for your company.
Take a break from the sales pitch. Of course, you are there to sell and that’s great, especially if you have something new to shout about. Just don’t make every post a sales post. Show your creative process, tell local stories, tune in with what’s happening in the wider world. I explain it to people like this: you are at a party and you are introduced to someone and politely ask what they do. Ten minutes later you are still listening to their job description and itching to get away. If they told you what they did, then asked about you, then told you an anecdote about a business trip that made you laugh, then let you into a little secret about a product launch, you’d probably feel pretty good about the encounter. Social is actually real life, so act like a human.
You may still feel that this is not for you and there’s no shame in asking for help. If you are using a social media service, just make sure they really understand what makes your business tick. Preferably, use someone local to you so they can spend lots of time in your environment. However you choose to feed the social media monster, don’t let it worry you or take over every free minute. The beast may eventually become a much loved pet and an integral part of your business success.