5 Ways to Be Social Media Savvy
I think it's safe to say that social media isn't going anywhere and at this point.
A lot of small businesses are still shying away from taking a deep dive into social media and unfortunately, at this point, it's either "do or die" when it comes to marketing. You either join in on the fun or risk fading away in obscurity. I tell all of them the same thing: You need to be there. You need to stop making excuses. You need to stop putting it off. It is time to embrace social media... for your business's sake.
I was fortunate to learn social media in a formal setting having degrees in both advertising and public relations as well as new media (social media) communications. This mix of industries has helped me gain an overarching understanding of how social media is changing traditional medias and how the two are merging into one, all-encompassing form of consumer media.
But just because I have a formal education in social media, doesn't mean I've stopped learning. That's the one thing that social media pros and the average Joe have in common... you can never stop learning when it comes to social media. It's ever-evolving and there is always something new to learn and something new to try.
Its this unique model that keeps us all on the same playing field. We all have to abide by the same principles to be successful and savvy marketers.
Tips to being a social media savvy:
I totally get it. Dipping your toes into social media for the first time is super scary and overwhelming. It's like trying to pick a group of kids to hang out with after moving to a new high school. The best way to know what to do is to sit back, watch, and absorb what is going on around you. Do you own a coffee shop? Start following other coffee shops that seems to be doing it right. Look all over the country for similar businesses and watch what their doing and how their audiences respond. Since you are in the same industry you're bound to have similar audiences that respond in the same way. This tactic also works for when new mediums enter the industry. Not sure what to do about Snapchat? Download the app and start following a bunch of brands to see how their using it and what works for them. Let them do all the trial and error for you!
2. Customer First
The first rule of thumb when it comes to social media is that it is not about you, it is about them. If you focus on providing great value, without the immediate expectation of reward (aka sales), I can promise you that you will enjoy success on social media. Before you post anything, ask yourself "What's in it for them?" If your answer doesn't indicate how it will help or benefit your audience then most likely it's a dud.
3. Listen & Respond
Once you're ready to dive in, it's important to listen to what your audience is saying and respond back. Ultimately what you should be posting on social media isn't for your own enjoyment but instead to give value to your audience/customers. And by saying "respond back" I don't mean, physically responding to every comment but rather take action. Are you a jewelry company and you posted a picture of your new garden and no one liked/commented on it on Instagram? Take that as a sign that they don't want to see pictures like that anymore. Pay attention to your wins and fails and give your audience more of what they want to see!
3. Be Engaged!
If you get nothing else out of this post, please remember: social media is NOT a broadcast tool, it’s a communication tool! The term communication denotes a two-way street, a conversation. Social media is all about people talking to each other, brands talking to each other, and brands talking to their customers. If you want people to be interested in you and your business, you have to be genuinely interested in them as well.
4. Be Authentic
It can be a real struggle as a business owner to realize that we have to come out from behind the logo and let our audience ‘know’ who we are. Yet this is what makes us real and authentic. Trust me, this is what they are looking for! I think Kim Garst says it best, "People are tired of the status quo when it comes to their buying habits. They are looking to spend money with companies that care about them, that are real, transparent and human."
5. Be Consistent
I know it can all be a little overwhelming and I'd like to tell you that it gets easier, unfortunately with how much the industry is changing (and how quickly) there is always a little bit of uncertainty in the air. The most important thing is to keep going. It is better to not be on a social media at all than to be missing in action! As they say "showing up is half the battle" and if you are not showing up regularly, this can really harm your reputation. Likewise, if you fail to respond to customer inquiries or comments, this showcases lack of interest in them and they will take their business elsewhere. Along with consistent attention, consistency in branding, content, and voice is also paramount. Having a consistent "face" that your audience can grow to love and trust will go a long ways!
At first, social media can seem totally intimidating for entrepreneurs and small business owner but the truth is even pros have to actively keep up to remain socially savvy. With the right strategies and tools and these quick tips, social media can be an amazing way to take your business to new heights.