Last week I had conversions with two different companies; both of whom were taking baby steps with their social media/web strategy. I found myself saying the same points (which luckily they found interesting) and I noted that many companies and professionals make the same sort of initial mistakes. On a cold Sunday evening with the fire blazing and a beer in my hand, I thought I’d rattle some of those out…
1) Don’t try to do everything
How many times have I heard that such & such social network or service is free. Nothing is ever free (with the possible exception of The Big Bang). Effective social media takes time; time to learn & time to implement. Time is money.
Don’t get lulled into creating free Facebook Pages, Twitter accounts, blog sites, Youtube channels etc simply because the man down the pub tells you that you need to (don’t listen to him; there’s a reason he’s in the Red Lion all the time).
Start off in the area you feel most comfortable (that’ll typically be Facebook or Twitter) and build from there. But grow only when you are happy to. Work at your own pace.
2) Automation is (normally) the wrong answer
If a little knowledge is dangerous then, in the world of social media, it’s downright deadly.
How many times have I heard people saying: “you can connect your social networks together and update it all in one central place” or “you can schedule your updates” etc etc.
Just because you can automatically set it up so that your Facebook posts turn into tweets (or your tweets into Facebook posts) doesn’t mean you should. The mediums are different. And such automation is certainly no substitute for having a genuine caring presence in the first place.
Scheduling updates – there’s a whole minefield here. I’m not against scheduling per se – heck, I even created an app to help repost certain tweets, but this is not a first port of call, get out of jail free, sticky plaster solution. If you don’t have time to do meaningful engagement on social media platforms then perhaps you should scale back or reprioritise your work load. Better to do less of high quality stuff than to do more of mediocre.
3) There is no substitute for personality
Many times I’ve worked with companies who love their vision, have boundless passion, are giddy with excitement about the journey they are on. Does this come across in their social media? No. Nope. Nadda. Zilch.
…what you get is PR monotone, bore-the-pants-off-you drivel. Yawnsville Alabama.
Why does this happen so often?
Why does this happen to people who will light up the room with their infectious enthusiasm when you meet them face to face?
The answer is because they struggle to find their online voice.
Their stare at the 24×7, swirling metropolis of social media and are completely overwhelmed. How do you interact with something that size? The key is to zoom into the people you really want to talk to; reframe the discussion; get yourself back in the zone; allow your true voice to come out. The one which lights people up with enthusiasm. Silence your “to whom it may concern” voice – do not let it hijack your social media efforts – it is grossly misrepresenting you.
4) There is no substitute for listening
If you are in blind panic about what to say on social media then forget it for the time being; but make sure you pick up on what people are saying to you or about you.
I recently showed a company where they had missed a whole conversation online which they should have jumped in on and worked with. Yes worked with, like a potter works with an amorphous blob of wet clay and fashions a beautiful vase out of it. The company had missed a massive opportunity to spread their good word and to endear their brand to a whole new audience. Gotta jump on those opportunities.
5) Outsource at your peril
Last week I came across a company who, for something like £50 a month, will handle all of your social media for you – including writing four blog posts a month. I’m gonna have to keep myself in check here so that I don’t get all worked up and call some of these people out for being exploitative cowboys who are actually harming their clients..oh…there goes me and my big mouth.
Put your wallet away; you can’t easily spend your way out of social media.
Does the outsourced company really know enough about your company to represent you like this? If you sat down and think about it, can you really shell out £50 , £100 or £200 or whatever it is and have an external company represent you effectively online?
Don’t get me wrong – outsourced social media can work – but the companies who do this well, quite rightly, charge top whack. And that ain’t £50 a month.
Many companies are small nowadays. I forget the figures but the number of sole traders or companies of less than five people obviously occupies the vast majority with multi-national corporates being in the tiny minority. These small companies have, in my experience, a big heart – and social media can help these people the most – their voice can shine with a clarity which bigger companies find difficulty with. Being small can be an advantage; play to it.
…and so ends my 5 points on this Sunday evening.
Hope you all have a nice week coming up. It’s half term here and I’m taking the kids to Legoland. Yes!
p.s. the photo at the top, which I agree has sod all to do with the topic, is a heavily edited Instagram shot of my boy Geno at Pontypool Park yesterday.