5 core beliefs in adopting the use of social media platforms in small business

My 5 core beliefs in how to use social media platforms; yes another opinion to consider.

MentorMoments

Over the last few years, I have developed 5 core beliefs in how the use of social media platforms might be considered. As

Social media is eating the world.  Facebook alone has over 1.5 billion users – nearly 50% of the entire internet’s population. Throw in LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and region specific social networks like Vkontakte and Sina Weibo and WeChat, and you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who’s online but isn’t on social media”

With this, I can’t disagree. Social media is here to stay. But it isn’t the answer to every solution for success. Some “experts” believe you need to be on all of them to stay “current”. These would be those that are always the first at the party, ready to proselytize the ‘value” of the next great social media platform. But I see it differently, and do not feel that “all” is a perfect fit for everyone.  Instead I suggest a viewpoint, that offers the lens of ” Why do it,  if you aren’t ready to be, or if they aren’t likely to add value to your project?“.

I came to this thinking after being reminded of a former client. His work was personal, customized, very hands-on artistic and often marketed from word of mouth. Folks kept telling him how much he needed to be on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. This caused him stress, as he wasn’t a tech savvy person in general, and then made him question his business acumen and confidence. By the time he called me, he was all set to jump on every platform. Sort of like that new puppy you bring home, all eager and playful he had a whole agenda and calendar in mind. That is until I candidly asked to tell me: “What did he hope to gain from each platform?”;
  • Audience?
  • Profits?
  • Clients?
  • Reputation?
  • Adoration?
  • Self-confidence?
Until that moment,  no one had even asked him to consider “not being on a platform” or encouraged him to think how would he measure and allocate the time for them. Now, some companies and consultants can take on this work on a clients behalf, for a fee; even I do it from time to time with clients or as part of my Storytelling Bootcamp series. If it isn’t an industry I am familiar with, all I am really doing is playing the middle administrative function. Working with the owners “ideas” and assisting in the logistics of the platforms, someone still needs to create the original content to use. In the end, instead of casting a wide and diffused landscape of social media, he opted to use only some of the platforms; concentrating on the ones that met his needs, based on a concrete set of goals, understood time limitations, and technical comfort.

That all being said – here are my 5 core beliefs in using digital social media for a small business

  • Core Beliefs Number 1: “Shit rolls down hill”;

    Don’t commit to it, if you don’t want to do it. You can’t expect your junior staff or an intern to carry it forward in the same way you would. You won’t be happy with the results. The nuances of the small business and entrepreneurism is the relationship to an owner’s personal style, theme, and focus. It can be very hard to have others replicate you. Remember, social media is just another form of your personal ability to use “storytelling” for your brand

  • Core Beliefs Number 2: Don’t hide your head in the sand.

    If your blog allows for comments or you know you have accounts on Yelp, Angie’s List, GlassDoor etc, don’t be afraid to read what people are saying. You do not have to like all the comments. But ignoring them won’t make them go away.  If fact each of the “criticisms” is an opportunity for you to:

a) Appreciate that a person took the time to share concerns;

b) promote new or changed policies that were in the works or are a result of the comment and

c) craft a response that shows you care, what and how your business interacts with its clients.

  • Core Beliefs Number 3: Never be afraid to say “I don’t know”.

When you don’t know the answer or how to make it happen, be honest and say that. Most people find that being honest, and then following up with “but let me find out and let you know” and then actually remembering to follow up will gain you a more sustainable memory to that person. Whereas that “1/2 truth” that sounds good for a minute, then later when proven wrong, will only make you look like a fool later.

  • Core Beliefs Number 4: You don’t need to be on every social media platform.

    Just because it is trending, doesn’t mean it’s the best fit for you. Understand the strengths and weaknesses of each platform and question if it is in sync with your goals as a business. Consider how much you are willing to allocate to social media accounts. That includes knowing what (if any) budget you want to invest, and how much time you can afford to spend. Ultimately – don’t do it because someone says you “just have got to be on x”.

  • Balancing Activism, Privilege, and Social Media with Frank Strona on Hack the Process Podcast, Episode 43

    Core Beliefs Number 5: Take Risks.

    You all have heard the saying “think outside the box”. While it can be “trendy” and a catch all phrase – there are some selling points to expanding beyond your boundaries of creativity. One is looking at who are your natural collaborators. Short-term, partnering, collaborating and local joint-sponsored activities can actually expand your success without a lot of resources by getting you access to different markets. Be sure to include the collaborators that may not come to mind initially. Be willing to allow some creative thinking, link sharing and brainstorming how a measured collaboration would look like. In the end, it could mean access to huge untapped opportunities. One example that was truly a great experience for me recently, was guesting on other blogger’s podcasts. Instead of starting my own, I was able to leverage a guest shots and use those links as content and feed material to promote my Facebook page MentorSFCA and also my own work in MentorSF.

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