Taming the Social Media Monster

Ignorance may be bliss but if you are a business owner who has let their social media channels languish, you have a problem.

My fellow Marketing Professionals might not believe me, but there are still many small business owners (and a few big ones, actually) who have not launched social media channels for their company. They know social media can help them but have no idea what to do about it.

For some, it is a matter of simply not understanding how powerful social media can be. Others are aware of the need, but cannot afford to pay someone to handle social media for them. In some cases, the owner already has an employee with the skills to get the job done, but that person is already busy with their original job. It is simply not a priority.

If your business currently operates without a solid social media presence, there is no more important job. You need that presence. Now.

Here are my top five suggestions on how to get started with social media –

1)      Look at it as an investment – Social Media needs to be handled the same way as the rest of your advertising. It is an investment in your brand. You need to protect what you have built and grow it. Even if your message is simply “We are here! Come see us!” people need to be reminded that your retail outlet or service exists. Over time, your competition will take market share with an inferior product advertised well.

2)      Start small – You really don’t need to break the budget and hire a full time employee to unleash and entire suite of social media profiles on your behalf. The first small step would be to have someone on your staff produce an official Facebook page for your company. More than likely, an ‘unofficial’ page has been generated by Facebook because people have mentioned your business in other posts. Launch your page, merge it with any of the existing pages and then work on it little by little until you are ready to post content.

3)      Commit to consistency – This takes time. You cannot afford to have someone focus on social media for a week or a month and then lose interest. That is why people get paid to manage social media for businesses like yours. Do NOT! I repeat DO NOT rely on the person who says “Oh, that’s easy. I’ll handle that for you for free.” I promise you in two weeks you will be back to where you are now. Remember, this is an investment. Investments also require time to produce results. This isn't a quick fix project.

4)      Demand proof of the ROI – This is what separates the professionals from the hacks and volunteer social media managers. Return on Investment for social media is the most important thing. The business owner needs to see results. The person handling your channels knows this. Here’s the catch. ROI on social media can also be the hardest thing to prove. Veteran marketing professionals also know this and have tools they can use to prove what they are doing is working.

5)      It takes more than a Facebook page – Launching a Facebook page and assigning someone to manage it is a start, but it is not enough. The theory is: you need to be where your potential customers are. That means in addition to traditional advertising; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube are must haves. There are a few others that have attracted strong followings, but these are the Big Five. Some businesses might be able to get away without a Twitter account or a Pinterest page, but not many.

Basically, social media is like everything else. You will get out of it what you put into it. The best solution is hiring someone with marketing skills who can show you the high quality content they are producing, and the ROI, and do it month after month.

I have more thoughts on this topic, including why you should be using traditional media, effective ideas to make social media work for your business, and more. This is just a starting point for those business owners who are still hoping social media will go away so they don’t have to address it.

News Flash: It’s here and it’s waiting for you.