Be present, be active, and be a human being — the hardest step is that last one
Have you felt daunted by “the socials”? Unsure how to get your company rolling in all things social media? No problem. We can help.
First things first, understand that social media is just another communication vehicle. Albeit, it’s one with a considerable amount of give and take that companies never had access to in the past.And, it may be some of that interactivity that makes you a little cautious to jump into the deep end of the social media waters. You’ve seen terrible stories on the news, maybe you have a friend or know of another business that had problems with social media. Possibly those unknown waters evoke feelings of old maritime maps that have billowy clouds on the horizon and caligraphied text warning “Here there be monsters” out in those black waters.
Yes, social media can be dangerous for brands. And, yes, you’ve probably seen horror stories about companies who got into hot water over something on social media. Like any new thing, however, it’s the salacious stories that make the headlines.
At present count, there are more than 16 million active business and company pages on Facebook alone! And the bulk of them run their businesses day in and day out without any issues on social media.
So, let’s take a look at some of the keys to setting up your small- to medium-sized business (SMB) for success on social media. No matter your skill level, we’ll keep these tips high-level to help you best implement quick changes to your social media presence and strategy.
Why should you ramp up your social media presence?Does your company need to be on social media? Yes. If you’re not, you need to be. Why are we still having this conversation? Social media has been around for a long time. It’s vetted tech and it’s still here. It’s obviously not going anywhere, so it’s time for your brand to start taking advantage of the platforms that exist.
Now, I’m not one of those people who is going to tell you to go out and make a personal account on every platform and start posting like crazy. You don’t have to be easily accessible on social media (although there are benefits to having a presence), but your company should definitely be online and available.
Your company needs to have a social media presence.
It doesn’t have to be amazing. It doesn’t have to be flashy. And, here’s the big one, you don’t need to know everything before you jump in.
You do need to jump in, though.
Why? Good question:
- There are now more than 2.34 billion worldwide users on social media.
- More than 81 percent of the United States is on social media.
- The average time spent on Facebook is 20 minutes per visit.
- Think about how long the average visitor spends on your company’s website; it’s a tad lower than 20 minutes, right?
This is an area you need to take advantage of. Even for small, local or regional businesses, a strong social media presence can help others find you. It allows your existing customers to connect with you, and potential customers to discover you. That’s a powerful combination!
And in a recent digital conference from HubSpot, their research team found a sharp shift in how consumers and B2B companies search. More and more people are using social media platforms like a search engine.
That means before they look up your company on Google or Bing, they are checking Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to find out about your brand, your people, your products, and what you do.
If you’re not there, they are likely clicking to a competitor who is.
Squatter’s rights: location, location, location
I am a firm believer that you do not — and you should not — be on every social media platform. You simply don’t have the time to do it. And you don’t know if that nascent social media platform is going to be around in the future (it’s a bit of a volatile area for startups). But, that doesn’t mean you can’t plan for the future.
Even if you don’t intend to use a specific platform any time soon, go out and claim your company name. That way you won’t have the agonizing pain of seeing someone else with your company name as their twitter handle in the future.
That’s a rough spot, and you’d be surprised how incredibly difficult it is to get someone else’s handle on a social media platform: support is notoriously not the best.
For social media, it’s all about land, metaphorically speaking. Whoever gets there first and puts their flag in the ground is the person who gets to keep the handle. And there’s little you can do about it.
Go out to these platforms, make an account and claim your company name for the profiles. Put the logins and info into a file somewhere so you can access it in the future when and if you decide to become more active on those platforms.
Branding and unifying your social media presence
It can be tempting to just make a new social media profile and call it good, but you want to look across the spectrum before you do so. You may find that someone else has already used your preferred handle. This is increasingly possible as the platforms have flourished.
And if someone has your preferred handle, there’s not much you can do about it. You can try to enter a claim, but most platforms just brush it aside and tell you to pick a different handle.
The key is to pick a handle you can use across multiple platforms. You don’t want to be @techprobiz on Twitter, @TechnologyProsBiz on Facebook, and something else on additional platforms. Do a quick spot check and come up with a combination on your handle you can use in multiple places.
Snag those profiles and get the best combination you can for your business.
The one differentiator here is LinkedIn, which doesn’t allow a codified handle. On LinkedIn, use the full spelling of your company that you would like to appear — think of what people would search for to find your company.
How to have an incredibly successful company social media presence
My number one rule: don’t sound like a company.
And believe it or not, this is the hardest one to do. Once you can master this, you will find that people are more likely to interact with you. They will remember you. Your follower count will rise with real people, your presence will grow, and your engagement will improve.
People don’t want to interact with companies; people want to interact with people.
Here are some quick TOP 10 Dos and Don’ts to help you with your social media efforts.
- Talk like a human being.
- Be funny. Inject humor into your posts.
- Provide tips and tricks.
- Link interesting articles and explain why you thought they were worth the read.
- Respond to people when they post on your social media pages or tag your company!
- Thank them for their post, give them a little nod or even post a funny gif or picture.
- Be friendly and helpful.
- Develop a “voice”.
- Be passionate and authentic.
- Cross-tag users and partners, give shout outs where you can.
- Be pushy.
- Spend all your time trying to *sell* to people. No one wants that on social media.
- Buy followers.
- Use social media to just dump your press releases.
- Post about politics. (Your company image is not the place to get into politics or religion; even if you are very passionate about it, that way danger lies. Same rules apply as your extended family’s Thanksgiving dinner: avoid politics, religion, and how many beers Uncle Frank has had.)
- Get overly worried about what people will think about you.
- Pretend you are a mouthpiece. (People want to know there is a person on the other end of the keyboard.)
- Get bogged down into over corporatized buzzwords. Remember, you want to sound like a person, not the minutes of a boardroom meeting.
- Post when you are angry, mad, or have had a little too much to drink (that courts danger).
- Automatically follow back everyone who follows you. Be selective about who you connect with. It should mean something if your brand takes the time to follow another company or person.
The key trick to doing great on social media
There is no trick. You’re a smart and savvy business professional. Apply that same logic to your social media approach for your brand. Don’t believe the click-baity articles that promise to help you triple your followers overnight or double your engagements “with this one simple trick!”
You wouldn’t believe those if they came to you as cold emails promising to double your sales overnight. Don’t believe them here, either. They are mostly scams trying to sell you followers, likes, or engagements. Those are ephemeral KPIs that do nothing to actually help your brand. Trust your bullshit radar.
It takes constant hard work to improve your social media presence, impressions, and engagements. And, as in business, there are things that you can do to improve your social media strategy and metrics — but at the end of the day they all take time and work, just like anything else worth doing well.
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