When I launched my copywriting business, the message was loud and clear—get your butt on social media. The overwhelming opinion smacking me full in the face (open palmed) was that a savvy social media presence was no longer an option, it was a business requirement. And businesses that weren’t jumping on the chuck wagon? Were destined for the wood chipper.
I knew a gal that started a small fitness-based business around the same time I created my biz. We would discuss the joys and stresses of starting our own businesses and trying to build it from the ground up (invest in wine and Kleenex). When the topic of social media came up, however, she was adamant. “I don’t have time for social media! And I’m not a good writer, sooo… I’m not going to do it.”
You don’t have time!? Wrong answer. <sound buzzer>
Toots, you make the time. Plain and simple.
Because at the end of the day, social media is about connecting with people—just like in your dating life. You want to connect with colleagues, other small business owners, and that coveted golden egg—your potential customers. Social media gifts us with various platforms to connect with people, not just in your local area, but globally, all from the comfort of your laptop. Cozy up, undo a button, and get to know them. Never before have small businesses been in a position to reach such a broad audience. Do you seriously not have the time for that?
You can find the time. Because no matter how busy we all are, there are always pockets of time that we fritter away doing useless stuff (I don’t care how productive you are, I know you still do this!!)—daydreaming, looking for gray hairs, looking on IMDB to settle a bet, or checking and rechecking your Facebook to see what else George Takei has posted (such a funny guy!).
So, whether you rise from your comfy bed a half hour early, take 20 minutes out of your lunch hour, or just cover up those bloody grays already, you can mobilize and propel your social media presence forward.
AVENUES OF SOCIAL MEDIA:
Here are a few of the major players in social media today:
- Linked In
SO WHAT IS SOCIAL MEDIA ALL ABOUT ANYWAY?
Social media is about people–connecting with people, getting to know them, and allowing them to get to know you through engagement. See? Just like dating, except you’re not stuck with a big bill for dinner or dodging an awkward kiss after.
You don’t have to leap on board with every social media platform either—that is a recipe for getting overwhelmed and retreating under your favourite blanket, Pringles can in hand. So, start with one. Just one. And when you’re feeling comfortable, branch out from there. Personally, Twitter was the platform that resonated with me for the window it provided to the world, and how easy it was to navigate, discover any and all kinds of diverse and thought-provoking info, and engage with really smart and intriguing people. Your interactions don’t have to just be all business all the time either. All work and no play can lead to a flavourless life! So, connect with people socially as well. If they seem like a cool person, reply to an interesting tweet or FB post. Or if you have a question, post it on Twitter, and see who answers. When I was a Twitter newbie, I was looking to connect with expats living in Europe. Just a few tweets later, I had connected with a number of really interesting people—one of whom became a personal friend and we met up when I traveled to Rome! Pretty cool huh?
WHY DO I NEED SOCIAL MEDIA?
- Allows people to get to know you, the face behind the business
- Builds trust
- Creates engagement and builds relationships
- Allows you to stand out amongst your competitors
- Allows you to connect with potential customers globally in a way that traditional advertising never could
- Helps create customer loyalty
- Being unfamiliar with the world of social media
- Not knowing what to post
- It seems like a huge time commitment
- What if you try to talk to people, and no one talks back?!
- Ambivalence about the benefits of using social media (Does it work? Could it be a fad?)
People are often wary of the unfamiliar. But unlike acid wash jeans, social media is here to stay. It’s a learned skill, just like when you first learned to navigate the internet (you know, way back when the wheel was invented and Full House was on TV?). It’s not rocket science baby, it just takes some time and a lot of patience to learn the ropes.
If you’re just not sure what to post, lurk around for a bit and see what other people are posting–after all, there are only so many times can you post “It’s almost wine o’clock!” Do a search on topics of interest to you or your biz. Re-tweet interesting or provocative tweets. Comment on a post. Or, even if you find a compelling news article online, tweet it or post to your Facebook or Google +. Pretty soon, your following will grow, and you’ll start to feel like a social media (semi) pro.
When you’re starting out, it can all be a bit deflating. You post a question and wait with bated breath! And no one replies. Don’t give up. And don’t beat yourself up. You didn’t just fail, but you must be persistent–keep talking to people, and as they get to know you, they’ll be more likely to reply.
There is a commitment involved (that bloody C word), but there are tools available to help you manage your social media efficiently.
QUICK TIP FOR POSTING CONSISTENTLY TO TWITTER —- https://bufferapp.com/
Those people you see who post all through the day? No, they’re not necessarily sitting in front of their computers from dawn ’til dark. They’ve discovered a neat little app that will do the work for you—regularly, throughout the day. Your Buffer App “starter pack” is free and allows you to load tweets into your buffer on a certain schedule so you’re posting regularly throughout the day. When I discovered this app (thank you @SocialMediaSean!), it made consistency with my Twitter activity WAY easier. Now I’m one of those smarty pants posting all day long!
The idea is to post interesting valuable content CONSISTENTLY.
You can also have Buffer post automatically to:
- Linked In
YOU’RE SO GREAT, BUT….
Never, ever, make your posts all about you and your business. That is a quick way to ensure people avoid your profile like the avian flu. Keep it diverse and interesting. Just posting that you want people to BUY your new e-book, or BUY your new course, or BUY your new product will equate to the hard sell (like when you walk into a store and clerk leaps on you like a vulture on a not-so-fresh kill?). The hard sell is a turn off. Keep that stuff off your social media and save that for one-on-one engagement. The one exception is if you have an established product that is going on sale, it’s nice to give people the tip off. For example, I had been toying with the idea of buying the Brandgasm copy and design workshop from TMF Project for a while. Low and behold, at Christmas, a little bird tweeted in my ear that it was 50% off. And I was all over it!
And have some fun with your social media! Post that picture of the dog and baby in front of the empty cake plate with icing sugar all over their faces if it made you smile—it just might do that for someone else. Did you find an amazing cafe on the weekend that serves the best espresso outside of Italy? Tell people! Your wedding photographer friend just published an awesome wedding magazine to help brides plan their wedding? Give her a plug, with an accompanying link (www.laraeichhorn.com) to her site.
Keep it professional and positive. Don’t engage negativity with negativity. Even if you’ve had a bad day with a horrible client, refrain from venting on your Facebook. If someone leaves a negative comment, engage with them in a friendly, positive way to resolve the conflict. Posting a negative reply is like throwing gasoline on a fire. Instead, endeavour to smother that fire with kindness.
As Sean Charles from Social Media Sean states, “Online attention, likes, comments and re-tweets from your friends validating your negativity is not the kind of attention that will help people to know, like and trust you”.
DO I HAVE TO BE ON THEM ALL?
Short answer—NO. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
It is so easy to become overwhelmed with social media. If you start checking online, you will find a dizzying number of platforms for sharing education and information, and for connecting with people. There’s Twitter, Facebook, Google +, Linked In, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Flickr… and so many more.
And you think, how can I possibly be a presence on all of them? Panic ensues. Chest gets tight. You reach for that bottle of wine even though it’s only 11:00 a.m.
Don’t let overload fry your brain! Personally, if this overload happens to me, I just shut off—which means I end up in front of the TV, soothing my scorched brain with those alluring walking, talking pictures—quite possibly with wine in hand. So I take steps to ensure that doesn’t happen. I have my Twitter account, my business Facebook page, and my previously existing Pinterest account (previously just used for pinning pictures of travel destinations and pretty clothes!).
I have just recently gotten on board with the rising star in social media, Google+. This is one platform that I think many people have been avoiding (do I really need another social media platform?). Yes, you do. I didn’t find Google+ super easy and intuitive to navigate at first. But I’m getting the hang of it. Take it slow, and if you need some help getting your social media set up, enlist the help of a techie friend. If you want to take it to the next level, you can employ a social media specialist to ensure that your social media profiles are optimized to work synergistically and reach the people you need to reach.
And it just so happens that I know one, so if you need a name, drop me a line! (hint, I already mentioned him in this article).
My most stern and serious advice? Don’t beat up on yourself if you’re not instantly a social media star. Social media success takes time and effort. If you’re willing to commit the time, engage, and persevere, social media success will be yours.
If you’re already on Facebook posting pictures of LOL Catz (I Can Haz Cheezburger), you’re already halfway there. What is keeping you from getting started?
Where have you found the most success on social media? Made friends? Created a business lead? Found the fountain of youth? (if so, mama needs a little bit of that—call me!)
Spill your guts sunshine. Inquiring minds want to know!