By Joseph Manna
For many people, the honeymoon phase of social media is over. Promoting our businesses, our experiences and our interests is now a normal way of marketing online and it’s not going away any time soon. So, I want to share five ways to suck less at using social media in your business.
I share this experience as an avid jaded “consumer” of social media. I may not necessarily represent your customer, but I am quite tolerant of how businesses actively promote themselves throughout social media. I’ve earned my stripes so to speak because the best way to understand social media is to actually experience it.
1. Don’t push your brand.
Every time you promote yourself, the Internet gives birth to another lolcat. So, stop promoting yourself! There is a time and place for that. When I glance at Facebook or Twitter throughout the day, I’m not there just to buy your products or services. I want to be educated about your industry and about how the products or services you offer improve my life.
2. Do more than marketing.
I feel many small businesses forget that social media can be used for more than just marketing. I don’t mean to say that marketing is necessarily bad or doesn’t take the form of other things (like customer service), but there is more to success in social media than click-throughs, likes and followers. Try to take the time to solve one problem that exists in your business via social media. Whether it’s to gather fresh ideas, finding a new vendor or hiring your next amazing employee, you will find that it is incredibly satisfying to use social media to make a deeper impact for your business than simply generating a lead or a few clicks.
3. Study the performance and adjust accordingly.
I am happy with the progression of all the small business tools designed for social media – many of which offer great tracking abilities to measure performance of content throughout social media. While they aren’t perfect, they are still very useful to help inform and educate the marketer on the other end about which content resonates well with their audience.
4. Commit to going ‘all the way’ with social media.
Many small businesses tend to just get to first – maybe second base with their social media program. You have to take is seriously from the get go. Social media is a commitment. It’s not a campaign; it’s an on-going program that requires investment of ideas, creativity and time. The more effort you invest, the higher returns you potentially gain. Be smart about it and take calculated risks along the way.
I noticed that in the past 2 years or so, businesses have spent far less time listening on social media. Online tools like Buffer have made it extremely convenient to push content. More tweets. More Facebook updates. Haven’t had enough? Then they are cross-posting content from all their networks to each other. Want more? Then they retweet their audience retweeeting them. See what I mean? They are simply (ab)using social networks as a broadcast platform and not really having any meaningful engagement. Instead, set up a specific phrase or some terms that your customers or prospects actually use and – wait for it - converse! It’s easy to converse. Try giving honest, helpful advice for people on the other end and watch your engagement grow.
The dynamic of social media is constantly changing, but one thing isn’t – the people. People are on the other end. It’s not a race to get people’s attention; it’s a race to retain it. Take words like “virility” and “automation” out of your social media vocabulary and replace it with “care” and “serve” and you’ll gain far more than you do today on social media.
Stay tuned for my next post where I share specific examples and cases where businesses are using social media right. Until then, let’s up our game on social media and listen more than we publish self-serving pieces of content. Cool?
Joseph Manna is the Community Manager for Infusionsoft. He leads the company’s social media efforts through corporate blogging, internal social media training and addresses inquiries for their users across the web. Much of his work can be found by visiting the company’s B2B-focused Infusionsoft Blog. Before Infusionsoft, he managed multiple online communities and frequently blogged for the AOL Network.