Don’t be scared of social media.

In the last few weeks I’ve had a number of communications with business leaders who admit to being scared of social media. Apparently this is not uncommon. People are scared that they don’t understand how to participate, that they don’t have the time or money to join in, that they don’t understand the technology or that it will lead to their business gaining a bad reputation. In my view these are excuses that are easy to rectify. Social media is essential for every business operating in the market today whatever its size. It is a low cost form of marketing that we can’t afford to ignore.

Join the party

Think of joining social media as like going to a party where you know some but not all of the attendees, you start by talking to your friends and then get introduced to new people some of whom you get on well with. When you become active on social media the first people you will connect with will be people you know, then you’ll start joining in conversations through them but with people you don’t know and slowly your circle of connections will increase.

What is social mediaIf you found yourself at a party with a room full of strangers the chances are you would hang back and listen to conversations until you felt comfortable enough to join in. That’s a great way to start on social media. Start on one platform, I recommend Twitter, connect with a few people and just watch what they do. What do they post? What kind of conversations do they get involved in? When are they active? When you are comfortable that you understand the medium join in and start conversations.

Social media does not have to be expensive or time consuming

Now I am prepared to admit that social media can be the procrastinator’s best friend. We can all use the excuse that we are working on our marketing when in fact we are just stopping by the coffee machine (metaphorically) for a gossip. Self discipline is required. We can achieve all our social media goals in around 15 minutes a day on average, even less if time is short.

Of course if you’ve got deep pockets you can throw lots of resources at developing and implementing your social media strategy. But most of us don’t have such deep pockets so we need to find a way to make it work for us. We need to decide what we want to get out of our social media engagement and then plan how to achieve that. I’ll be discussing this more in my next post. Whilst you can outsource much of your social media activity I don’t believe we should hand over the whole lot. Social media is about building relationships and I don’t think anyone can do that for us as well as we can do it ourselves.

Social media is useful for managing our business’ reputation

Some people fear that social media will damage their reputation. This is a fear that emanates from media stories about people getting in to trouble for what they have posted.It’s true that it’s important to be careful about what we post.

If you went to a party with some influential people who could put business your way then you would control your drinking to ensure you didn’t let yourself down wouldn’t you? You probably wouldn’t get into an argument about politics either. The same restraint is important on social media. Have some boundaries about what you will talk about. Don’t post when you have had a glass too many or when you are very tired or angry. Always ask yourself, ‘would I say this to this person face to face or if I met them at a party, would I care if I was overheard?’ if the answer is no then don’t post it either.

Just because you are not on social media doesn’t mean that people are not talking about you there. Encourage your customers to give you feedback on social media and deal with any criticisms promptly and fairly, that will allow you to build trust with prospects and make your business appear human. Most people will share their satisfaction with their following and you can always harvest those conversations for other marketing activities.

Social media is an enormous topic so will be my theme for this month. We’ll look at the different platforms and how businesses like yours are using it effectively. Do pop back for new articles every Monday and Thursday and if you could use some help to get started book your free 30 minute consultation here.

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