I said for years that small businesses had an advantage over large companies in the social media space since they could connect one-on-one with their community and form personal relationships with those they serve more effectively than a large company. But I have since changed my tune. When it comes to managing social media for a brand, it’s not a matter of how big or small your company is; it’s how much time you are willing or able to devote to engaging your community authentically, that will set you apart and give you the advantage on this stage.
Larger companies have no more advantage or disadvantage as far as tools or ability to reach their community so the playing field is equal and open to those willing and able to do the work. (Aside from the fact that many large companies have the resources to hire someone whose full-time job is to listen and respond to the community chatting it up on social channels such as Twitter and Facebook, and the smaller business owner is pulling double and triple duty.)
Here are 3 traps to avoid regardless of the size of your organization:
Not having (or creating) a personality
Yes, this is a hard one. I would much rather connect and follow Kirk Schreck on Twitter over General Electric (and not just because he is my husband). I mean what kind of conversations would I possibly have with a large brand name? Your brand, whether large or small, has to connect with people. Posting coupons and flat information about your products and services makes you MEDIA without the SOCIAL–just a brochure–and I can find that on your website.
When you assign a real person to engage the community they can ask questions about how people use certain products or services. They can provide tips that make using your products and services easier. They can tell jokes, give out virtual cheers for someone who just got a promotion and mentioned it on Twitter. Your community manager needs to have a personality for people to connect with. One of the first things we do when we manage a company’s social channels is match the personality of our community managers with the account. It’s more difficult if you have a financial or legal minded person posting for a hiking and canoeing company. What is the personality of your organization? Do you need to create one? Make sure that comes across to your virtual community.
Not listening and responding to what the community is talking about
This is a trap most people on social media sites are guilty of falling into. We get excited about how great our latest webinar is, or how fantastic our products are. We are so fascinating that we just want to talk about it all day long. Well, guess what? Your community is filled with fascinating people, doing amazing things and they are more likely to listen to you and engage with what you have to say if you, at least occasionally, listen and reply to what they have to say.
Most large organizations post their content and listen to see if anyone is saying anything about them, and that is the extent of the listening. Checking Google Alerts, or your “Mentions” column on Hootsuite is not REALLY listening to the community. What if you read that someone you are connected with just got engaged or lost their dog? If your organization sent a message wishing them well or sent condolences, this would be a BIG WOW! Take the time to engage and reply to people’s comments–not just when it’s about you!
Not being “ON” frequently enough
I see so many business accounts that have one or two posts per month, and again, it is just a promotional offer or link to purchase their products or services. When you post infrequently, people forget you are there. Not everyone will be sitting waiting for you to say something, so by posting frequently (at least daily on your Facebook Page and several times a day on Twitter for example), you’re letting people know you are there and open for business. It also shows that you are taking this platform seriously and it’s not just a side task thrown on someone’s desk to make sure they get something up on the sites once in a while (Oooo–hitting close to home for some people right now!)
If you are taking questions and providing customer service help on your social channels, you definitely need to assign someone to monitor comments coming in throughout the day. You may also want to post your “open” hours, so people can adjust their expectations of your response time, as well as who is on duty so people know who they are speaking with.
Of course, these are only a few of the traps that are set up in this social media jungle.
What are some of the others you have identified?
@GinaSchreck is the CEO of SocialKNX, a digital marketing and social media management company. She also heads up DIY.social and encourages small biz owners to join the free DIY social group for tips and resources to help you avoid the traps.