The Key to Business Social Media Is Enjoying It, So Hire A Pro To Set It Up
I often find myself working with established businesses (read: older entrepreneurs - and by older I mean anyone whose baby photos were not posted on the world wide web at the time of his or her birth), but who are interested in having a professional presence in the social media realm.
They may have dabbled in social media, but let's face it, they have businesses to run, families to feed and bills to pay and being involved in social media can feel very… frivolous. But that is mainly because it feels fun and that can be frustrating when you are trying to run and promote a business.
The world tells business owners that they should be out there, but the learning curve is intimidating plus, the anticipation of almost anything social, makes a lot of people feel on the spot and a little nervous. That's why they serve cocktails at social events. Now I'm not saying that to participate in social media you necessarily need to mix a pitcher of mojitos, although come to think of it…
What I am saying is that social media (like many things in life) works best when you let go and have fun with it. You have to kind of get swept away in it - like a little kid at play. The problems for business owners are several.
The Barriers and Learning Curve of Business Social Media.
First, they don't often know what opportunities are out there - what playgrounds are available. Of course they've heard about Twitter and Facebook, possibly Linkedin and Google+. So, great, let's start with these big four. These are the playgrounds, and the games played are a little different at each.
Second, they're not sure how to set up these various accounts, how to add profile pictures, how to connect with others in the network, how to connect the accounts to their business websites, what to post, when and why and how to efficiently manage the tangle of accounts in a way that best suits their business, lifestyle and availability.
Third, Writer's Block. As a writing teacher early in my career I know that most people feel a certain level of anxiety at the thought of a blank page - and for many 180 characters (the maximum length of a Twitter post) might just as well be an entire blank page.
The solution to the first two social media reservations is to hire a consultant to set up your accounts based upon your particular business needs and your schedule.
A consultant like myself can set up your business Facebook page, business Twitter account, business Google+ account, and make them easily accessible to you on your desktop and on your smartphone. It's worth the small investment to have this service performed. Even (maybe especially) if you've already set up one or more of these accounts yourself.
A social networking consultant can set up your accounts, record all of the important login information, keep things neat and consistent and connect everything up to your website so that visitors there can find you in the social networks. He or she can also tie your accounts together on a platform such as Tweetdeck, allowing you to control all of your accounts from one clutter-free place so that you don't have to lose your inspiration as you struggle to log into all of your different accounts.
But a good consultant won't have to stop there. This is where a consultant can help you with the third barrier of entry to social media: writer's block. The question is, now that you're all set up what do you post? Well, you post what you care about. What challenges did you face today? Did you encounter a client who had questions? A social media consultant who understands content and not just the mechanics of establishing the accounts can point you toward resources on the web that will act as feeds to provide the content to you. A big part of establishing connections on any of these platforms is connecting to others in your field. Look at what they're posting and post something as a response or a twist on what they're saying. Of course you'll want to connect to your customers as well and benefit them with your perspective.
Remember, just as you can't really know what the outcome of your interactions will be with a room full of people before you walk in and begin interacting. Opportunities will present themselves but they might not be the ones you would have predicted. Social media is much the same. You go in, listen, learn, react, respond and thus contribute to the greater conversation. There are enough places on the web that will tell you that just as in real society, social media is not a place for you step into a room and begin blabbing at the top of your lungs, but it bears repeating. Just as in life, people love it when you listen to what they have to say and affirm them. There are ways to do this in each social media platform, but that's for another discussion.
Little kids, as opposed to us adults, like to dive right into the deep end. They're not afraid to try new things and explore. My advise, have a pro set up your social networks for you. He or she will keep your pages, profiles, feeds and circles straight. They will make your experience much more of a turn-key and thus, fun, experience. And they can point you the right way toward where to find good material and when and how to post it. Think of this service as training wheels. Once you find your balance - which won't be long at all - remember to become a kid again. Don't be afraid to try a few tricks.