10 Small Business Social Media Commandments
If there was one single pointer small business owners should learn, it’s this…learn how to say “No”. As a social media consulting firm, one of the biggest problems we see time and time again is the long term impact of a small business owner trying to go it alone. By their very nature, most business owners and entrepreneurs are independent, “take action” type of people; it’s a great quality…until it’s not. Social media marketing is a bit like car maintenance; it’s a lot easier to prevent a problem than repair it after the fact. Unfortunately, a significant amount of small business owners only seek out professional help once the damage has been done. Today we decided to dedicate this article to all those DIY types in the hope that maybe…just maybe…these words of advice will resonant before any damage has been done to your social media marketing campaign. These are the 10 small business social media commandments. Ten ideas every small business owner should live by when it comes to planning, preparing and implementing a social media marketing campaign both today and well into the future.
#1 – Thou shall learn how to say “No”. Learning how to say “no” isn’t easy especially for someone that has built a business from the ground up. That same entrepreneurial spirit that thrives during a challenge often has a mental default which truly believes the old adage “If you want something done right…do it yourself”. Of course, sooner or later even the most adept person must face the fact – there are only 24 hours in a day and no possible way to do everything on your very own. Outsourcing allows small business owners to focus on core business concepts while growing their business to the next level.
#2 – Thou shall focus on outcome. Ever hire an employee that is always busy but never actually seems to get anything done? It’s the difference between being “busy” and being “productive”. Social media marketing companies can be the same way. As a small business owner, evaluate outcomes – not just the amount of work. Anyone can increase billable hours but outcome is the only thing that matters.
#3 – Thou shall automate. Invest in success by automating those mundane, time-consuming aspects of your social media marketing campaign. For instance, capturing leads, managing email, auto-responders and other specific applications designed specifically for your small business. Not only does it demonstrate a level of dedication and tech savvy to prospective clients but saves time and money.
#4 – Thou shall not spend endless hours twittering away the time. Admit it. Social media marketing can easily become a time consuming black hole of wasted hours spent chatting about next to nothing or chasing down elusive information. Establish alerts that notify you of important information on a regular basis without adding to the distraction.
#5 – Thou shall analyze. Get to know the numbers behind each campaign. What time of day works best for your industry? What are visitors interested in? Which stories attracted the most attention? The least? Why? There is an immense amount of strategic information available but you must learn how to access it, how to use it for planning and preparation…and most important of all…how to put it to work!
#6 – Thou shall not lag behind. Plain and simple; as a small business owner you should be on the cutting edge of social media marketing rather than playing “catch up”. Early adopters reap tremendous rewards by capturing untold levels of attention long before the competition heats up. By positioning your small business for success, it’s possible to grow well beyond the basics for a fraction of the typical cost associated with implementing a traditional advertising or marketing campaign. Lead – don’t lag!
#7 – Thou shall cut thy losses and move on. Okay, we know this is a tough one but it’s absolutely necessary to cut losses and move on. The tendency to stay with a non-performing decision is familiar to stock traders, financial advisors and social media marketing agencies…the rationale goes something like this; “if I just wait long enough surely it will turn around”. Of course, it doesn’t always turn around (just ask the good folks at Enron) especially when the shift is due to a transitional change, new technology or error in the original planning stage. This is where things get tricky. Trying to tell a small business owner that their former marketing strategy was a mistake isn’t always easy but it’s much worse to keep throwing good money at bad planning. Like all bad decisions, chalk it up to a learning experience and move forward.
#8 – Thou shall not live in the past. If convincing a small business owner to abandon a bad idea is tough just imagine how difficult it can be to move forward with something that has already worked! Although something may have worked well in the past, everything has a time and a prime. The key is to know what is coming next and prepare for maximum profits and exposure rather than riding the wave all the way back down. Change can be good especially when it comes to trying out new and exciting ways of communicating with clients via social media. Don’t project false barriers that restrain your small business from success – instead, work closely with a reputable social media consulting agency to develop exciting new frontiers, new methods of doing business and new applications that people want to use.
#9 – Thou shall constantly evolve. Like the Darwinian concept of survival of the fittest, only those that adapt to evolutionary changes are likely to thrive in a new marketing era. Unfortunately, evolution requires some degree of flexibility and insight into the future. Rather than viewing social media as purely a marketing tool, expand your horizons to explore the full potential of what new and emerging technology can do for your small business. From customer support to online training, social media marketing is just the tip of the iceberg.
#10 – Thou shall have fun! Last but not least…have fun with it all! Social media marketing is built around the concept of socialization and what encourages socialization more than fun? Keep it informative, entertaining and exciting. Not only will it show through in day-to-day business communications but chances are you will look forward to the next marketing campaign as much as your clients!