Small businesses are finding social media hard work for little return according to a new report, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
I enjoy creating content and using social media, it’s my product, so spending hours on it every day is not a task, it’s the business. But for many small business owners, it’s just another thing on the list!
A new report reveals a growing gap between businesses and consumers on social media with many businesses ditching social media altogether.
Everyday, I see accounts on Twitter (in particular), Facebook, Instagram, etc which have been left dormant. The last thing posted was a promotional tweet from 2013 or a link to a long-since abandoned blog.
The study by Australian firm Sensis found that 47% of small businesses are on social media (60% of large businesses) compared to 79% of consumers.
It also found that consumers are more likely to trust a brand if it in interacts on social media in a positive way (64%); if they find the content posted engaging and relevant (63%); and if the content is updated regularly (59%).
These three responses speak volumes about why some small businesses are giving up on social media, or see no value in it. If it’s not used well, social media will do little for you.
Interact in a positive way
This includes the simple (but potentially time consuming) task of responding to messages and mentions of your business.
Big companies employ people whose sole job is to answer comments on Twitter and Facebook. As a small business, that’s unlikely, but spending even 5 minutes a day on this would be a benefit.
When someone asks you a question or mentions you positively or otherwise, spending a few minutes responding matters. As does the tone of your reply.
Keep it positive, even if you are being criticised. Don’t handle the entire complaint on social media. Get the customer to contact you in a private message, email or phone.
When you get praise on social media, say thanks – and share that positive energy to your wider following.
Engaging, relevant content
This is my focus. I even have an acronym for it, TRUST:
The idea of content should be to inform and preferably save your customers time and/or effort. Make it so relevant, so usable, that they will want to consume it and share it.
This doesn’t have to be a daily task, you could do it once a week with the results spread over the next 7 days. If your topics are not time-sensitive then create content weeks or even months in advance.
Create your own content, perhaps a blog post, video or podcast; but also share other content that is relevant to your ‘audience’.
If they are interested in what you do, they will likely be interested in content connected to it. For example, an estate agent could share content on interior design or garden landscaping.
If you have little time to create your own content, then making your social media feed a source of other great content is a good option… avoiding things from your competitors obviously!
Social media is like a greedy animal that will keep on eating! So make sure you are creating content regularly, even if that’s just once a week.
There is a distinction here between creating content and sharing it.
If you were creating a single blog post once a week, you wouldn’t only share it once a week. You would post it at different times throughout the week, alongside curated content from others.
Once you have something of a library of content, you can also re-purpose or re-promote your ‘evergreen’ content as there will be new people joining your social feeds all the time.
Posting content to social doesn’t have to be done in real time, or on multiple platforms. Use a tool like Buffer or Hootsuite to get the job done effectively. These will post to a schedule you set and to any or all of your social media platforms.
For more on these topics and more, please check out my podcast Media Means Business.