Last weekend I was at the cutest, trendiest little spot on Flagler Beach in Florida for dinner. It was sunset and stormy– the perfect opportunity for incredible photos. The place itself was also super hipster, begging to be photographed with its license plate covered walls and ceiling and neon chalkboards all over the place with fun blips written on them. What I found most exciting, though, was that this little hidden gem also had its social media networks on everything, and I mean EVERYTHING. From the chalkboards to the menu to the valet stand, the social networks were clearly written out, begging to be posted to. Naturally, I started flooding their social networks with the awesome photos I was taking during our dinner. I could not wait to get this little place on the map.
A week later, they have yet to follow me back, RT me, or even FAVORITE one of my Tweets. What the hell?! Why in the world would you put all of this effort into letting people know you are active on social media, and then NOT BE ACTIVE on social media?!
I’ve been on the small business side of social, and it is so easy to give someone at the company access to your social networks and just have them quickly like, favorite and respond –> even if it’s just one time a day. It doesn’t have to be the super busy restaurant manager, or the owner. It could simply be a waitress who is good at social media.
Here’s the deal, though –> that little gem made me more pissed off by advertising their social all over the place, and then being unresponsive, then they would have if they just didn’t have a presence on social. I felt like I had a one-way conversation with someone super cool, who just decided I wasn’t worth their time. Shitty feeling, right?!
So, businesses out there –> don’t be on social just to be on social. Don’t set up a million social network accounts just because someone told you it was the cool thing to do. Wait until you have the right people in place to manage them, then create those networks and advertise the shit out of them.
Once you feel like you have the people to manage it (again, for small businesses, this could be an employee that has interest in it), here are some tips for small businesses to get up and running:
Respond to EVERYTHING, even if it’s just a simple favorite on Twitter. Let your customers know that you are seeing what they are sharing.
Encourage user generated content, and then use it for your own content –> This is a great tactic when you don’t have the resources to create new content all of the time. Let your users create it for you by having them send in photos from your restaurant, shop, etc., or photos of them with your product. Then use these images for future posts (with permission, of course).
Create a unique hashtag for your small business, and encourage your customers to use it on all platforms. This will allow a super easy way for you to track conversations on all networks, when you might not have the manpower to invest in robust metrics platforms.
Add your social networks to all paperwork to do with your business –> menus, email signatures, receipts, invoices, etc.
Empower your employees –> Let them Tweet, FB, etc. images of their day out on your social networks to give a sense of community and behind-the-scenes to your customers. (Make sure your employees know how to use social media, and set up a mini social media guidelines one-pager before you do this.)
Being on social as a small business is great, but make sure you are using it to empower yourself and your customers, and not just being there to be there. Have specific small business questions? Feel free to email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org 🙂
– Marji J. Sherman