We all know how important social media marketing is to our business, it allows us to have a voice online for ‘free’ and engage with our customers seamlessly. If you run your own business, you most probably do your best to build an audience online for free by making the best of social media.
There is a lot of potential for exposure without capital outlay, but do keep in mind that it is not completely free. Your time is valuable, and part of the power of social media stems from the fact that it has a very nasty habit of being addictive.
Sometimes even if you log into Facebook, Google+ or Twitter to manage your business page, there always is another new gadget popping up, another cruel joke that you have to forward to your friends or another meme that you just have to read – “it will only take a second”. Next thing you know an hour has just flown by.
So what should you do? Should you close all your accounts and go back to living in the age of cavemen at the expense of being well-networked? Definitely not – you still need to have a voice out there, you just need to make sure you are doing it well and making the best of the time you spend online.
Set time aside for social media
No, unless you’re running a 911 service by Twitter, your clients are not going to die if you do not answer them within five minutes. Sure, they will be impressed if you do, but they will be far from impressed when you fail to get their server back up and running in the timeframe you had promised because you spent all your time checking your 20 social media feeds.
I encourage you to actively engage with your customers, but don’t get lost in it. Set an hour or two aside for managing your social media and do not dilly dally. When you get online, do what you have to do and move on quickly. If needs be, set alarms and stop when your time is over. There are apps on every platform to help you do this. If you want to go back for leisure feel free to do so – it is perfectly OK as long as it is outside your working hours (whatever they might be) or in self-designated breaks.
At all other times your social media tabs should be closed. Not in the background. Not minimized. Closed. Do not even think about them. Let your notifications gather, remember: you are not running a 911 service.
You Gotta Keep’em Separated
Open a new account for your business presence online. It might be hard to build a new set of followers, but once you do you get two major benefits.
The first is that all your following is there for the right reason. Your great-aunt (once removed) probably won’t be of much use if you’re promoting the latest blade servers.
The second major advantage is that if you decide to respond to mentions of your brand immediately and want to set up alerts of all contact and mentions of your business name, then you can do so without worrying that you’ll be disturbed the next time your brother’s wife has done her nails.
Formulate a strategy
Now that your time online is limited you are going to have to take a long and hard think about what you want to achieve from social media. If you offer on-site service in Denver, Colorado, it would be useless having 10,000 followers from all over the globe. 100 business owners from within 100 miles of your business would be far more valuable and much more likely to react if you posted a special offer from one of your suppliers online.
Think of who you need to engage with and work hard on that audience. Find out what they like, what they want, what they need and give it to them. Also decide on what you want out of them. Do you want them to become loyal clients or are you after one-off customers who, however, might suggest your business to an acquaintance? Act accordingly.