This post is by Lanae Paaverud, founder and CEO of Social Networking Nanny.
As an online retailer with 16 years of experience, I quickly learned that social networking is an integral part of business. You can advertise your products, and promote your latest offers, but also put a face to your store – a crucial human aspect that helps people engage with your business and feel comfortable buying from you.
With Social Networking Nanny, I spend a lot of time talking to other business owners about using social media. But there’s a lot of hype and “hot air” out there about marketing through social networks, and it’s easy to get the wrong idea about using social media in your business.
So here are my top nine myths about social media for business. I’ll explain why people believe them and the reality behind the myths, and – most importantly – how you can really make the most of your social presence. I’d love to hear your questions and feedback in the comments at the end!
- Myth #1: “My business needs to be on every social media channel.”
- Myth #2: “I need to do a social media post for every product I have.”
- Myth #3: “It doesn’t matter what I post or how often.”
- Myth #4: “If I don’t agree with a comment on Facebook I just remove it.”
- Myth #5: “It’s good to buy lists of people to like/follow my social media accounts.”
- Myth #6: “It’s not important to add my social media links to my website.”
- Myth #7: “My business is doing great – I don’t need to have any social media presence.”
- Myth #8: “I need to keep my social media channels 100% about my business.”
- Myth #9: “I don’t need a personal LinkedIn account – I own my own business.”
Many times, once a business finally gets excited about using social media, they feel they have to be on every social media channel they can find. They sign up their business on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Periscope, YouTube, Tumbler, Google+, LinkedIn, and others. Most business owners quickly run out of time and know-how for each channel.
The number one mistake I tell businesses they can do regarding social media is to do absolutely nothing – to have no social media presence. The second biggest mistake is having social media channels that are ignored, or become dormant. This is what can happen when you spread yourself too thin. A business does not want to give the perception that their company is run the same way that their social media channels are.
Instead of feeling the need to be on every social media channel you can find, first figure out where your customers are spending their time online. For most businesses they will find that Facebook is the best place to begin.
Now that you have this wonderful new social media channel you want to make the absolute most of it, so you starting doing a post for every single product you have in your store. That’s perfect if you want to have your fans and followers hide your account, or quit following you altogether.
It is better to be selective, be purposeful. Maybe post about items seasonally, ones that correspond with a holiday, new items, unique items, sports items for teams that are in the playoffs, something with a viral hook. Use your creativity and imagination. Social media should be part of your marketing strategy, so treat it as such.
Myth #3: “It doesn’t matter what I post or how often.”
Now that you’ve opened your social media account(s) you feel the work is done, and search engines and customers will find you automatically. Or you feel if you do a quick post every other month it’s “good enough.”
While it shouldn’t take hours each day to be active on your accounts, you should be giving them the attention they need. I often tell the most reluctant clients that if necessary start slow, with one post a week. Yes, that is very slow, but at least they are doing it and being consistent. As an example, for most accounts we recommend a post a day on Facebook and 5-6 posts on Twitter.
Do not make the posts all about pitch-pitch-pitch. Mix them up and do a soft sell, share a post/tweet, reply to followers posts and comments, reply to other account’s posts, share a personal picture, post a meme. The point is for people to see there really is a human behind the posts, not something that is completely automated, and expressionless. Your fans should want to engage with you, and know that you are listening.
Myth #4: “If I don’t agree with a comment on Facebook I just remove it.”
You made a Facebook post and someone didn’t like the product, service or the post that was made. They write a contradictory reply to your post, or complain about the item they received that was similar. Your heart races, you panic and delete their reply.
Too many businesses are afraid of confrontation, so they want to remove it before others can see it. Instead, consider first *taking a deep breath*, then choose one of the following:
- Engage the person with respectful dialogue.
- Ask the person to send you an email or private message to discuss further.
- Ask the person to call so you can discuss further.
- if the comment is really outrageous you can choose to ignore it, or you can hide it.
- if it is truly vulgar, rude, offensive…remove it.
Many businesses believe that the higher the number of fans and followers they have the more attractive they become to people who don’t yet follow them.
Buying lists of followers is like buying a list of fillers. They are not the “real deal” and only take up space, without contributing to your cause. It’s much better to choose quality over quantity. For Facebook start with your friend base. Ask them to like your business page, then ask them to share your page with others.
We’ve also had success in doing low cost ads to find pertinent people on Facebook who may like your business product or service. On Twitter use Twellow.com to find people pertinent to your business. You can also peruse through other Twitter handles of your colleagues and competitors to find quality individuals and businesses to follow. Remember, once you have people who follow you, engage in dialogue with them.
The mindset of some is that if people want to find you on social media sites they will search you out. While this sometimes happens, it should not have to happen.
You should make it as easy as possible for people to connect with you on your social media channels. It is very important to add your social media links to your website. Make them static (header, footer or sidebar) and easy to find, don’t bury them in a “contact us” page. It’s also important to have the URL link open up in a new window, you don’t want to remove them from your website. Also remember to cross-reference your social media sites whenever possible.
This would mean that none of your customers are ever talking about your business to their friends and family (good or bad), nor do you desire to increase sales in your business. This is also used as an excuse because the world of social media scares you and you don’t want to dive into it.
Quite often this is the perfect situation to hire a professional, perhaps by contract vs on payroll. Be actively involved by sharing with them what’s happening in the business, new items, events, intro’s to employees, recommendations and helpful ideas, or at minimum assign a representative of your company to do this task.
Request feedback on how your content is being received by your audience on the channel(s) you have chosen with the help of your social media manager. The majority of people spend a lot of time online, on social media. You need to be listening to what they’re saying, as we can often learn from what our customers have to say.
Do you ever walk into a business and the employees are constantly holding products in your face, trying to sell you the items? What’s your instinct? Turn around and walk out. The same happens on business pages that only pitch their product or service.
If you think you have nothing else to say, share helpful ideas, recommendations, a fun or cute image, a meme, an inspirational quote, ask a question. You could also think of a conversation you may have with a colleague or friend about volunteering, pets, kids, sports, events, food, travel, music, movies, etc.
Myth #9: “I don’t need a personal LinkedIn account – I own my own business.”
Now that you’re an entrepreneur have you ever said there is no way you could or would work for anyone else ever again? Therefore, you think there is no reason for you to have a LinkedIn account. You may think LinkedIn is only for people who are looking for jobs, or looking to fill jobs.
LinkedIn is a social media channel that can not only help you showcase your business, but it can also help you network with others in your industry: potential partners, vendors and customers. You can publish posts (including keywords), announce new opportunities, share events, and support others – and hopefully they will support you in return.
Lanae began selling on eBay in 2000, and opened her own online retail website, Old World Limited, in 2007. An early adopter of Facebook and Twitter to promote her business, Lanae’s success with social media was quickly recognized by her peers. In 2009 this led to the founding of Social Networking Nanny, a social media services firm helping small businesses get social on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and more.