Obviously, as the expertly perfect and perfectly expert SEO that I am, I’ve been telling all my clients for ages and ages now to make sure they social media to the max in order to get their websites even vaguely near the top of the search engines. Fortunately, most of my clients are already on the same page with me about this, or are at least persuadable on the issue, but there are a few of them who will just not go with me on this one – and you know who you are, naughty clients!!!
In a frantic bid to try and win them round, and for any of you other small to medium business owners out there who are sceptical about the necessity of social media, I am hereby setting down my social media plea in the form of two linked blog posts; part one (violá!) is really me just having a little bit of an off-load about my three most hated excuses for not doing social media, mainly so that, next time I hear them – and it won’t be long, trust me – I can direct said culprit here instead of screaming into a cushion.
Part two, on the other hand, will be a little bit more constructive and educational *yawn*and will offer some practical suggestions on how to be a bit more savvy with your social media, to help stop it taking over your life. So, let’s stop all this explaining and get to the blinking point.
1. “I don’t really use social media and neither do any of my customers”
Wrong! I can guarantee to you that, even if you work on the moon, some of your customers are going to be using social media. Now, I will grant you that, in some careers or job spheres, a bulk of your customers may not be using social media, but that will not be the case for very long, so sit up now and pay attention!
No matter what sector you work in, if you own your own business and want to grow that business, then you will need a website and social media of some sort to do it effectively. This is no longer a case of ‘in a year or two’, this is now. I have written many (better) blogs previously that explain in great detail why this is and I don’t want to go over it all again here so I’ll give you the short version: you need social media to promote your website and its content, to build brand awareness, to nurture trust in you and your product or service and to connect with your customers both current and future.
So, in answer to the first part of the excuse, if you don’t really use social media and won’t be persuaded on it, please don’t come to an SEO company and ask them to get your website to the top of the results pages and keep it there, because you will be very disappointed with the advice you get.
Addressing the second part of the excuse, roughly 90+% of teenagers and young adults, that’s basically under 25s, in the western world are now using some form of social media, whether that be one platform or several at once. Not only that, but they’re using it on the go on their mobiles and tablets and accessing it everywhere and anywhere. When they want something, they expect to log on and find it, there and then, not wait until they get home or, god forbid, get to a shop.
OK, I know what you’ll say to me on this one; “but most of my clients aren’t under 25 and they don’t walk around attached to their phones, they live in the real world”. Yes, they probably do, but what about in 15, 10 or even 5 year’s time? What will your demographic look like then? And how much further behind them will you then be if you haven’t got to grips with this now?
Technology is moving fast and social media is moving faster, none of us are sure how it will look and function in a few years but there’s one thing we do know and that is that it will be there in one form or another and the successful businesses will be those that can exploit it.
2. “I don’t really have time to do social media in addition to everything else I’m already doing”
I know that you’re busy, we’re all busy and of course you have more important things to do trying to run a successful business, but the bottom line is that you have to find time somehow.
I understand that, particularly if you’re new to social media, it can feel a little bit daunting; I’ve been doing social media both for myself and for clients for years now and even I sometimes feel as though I’m drowning in it. What’s more, as more and more social media platforms come along, there seems to just be an ever growing mountain of ‘stuff’ to keep on top of; you’ve got business pages on Facebook and Google+ for your friends and family, hundreds (well, maybe tens) of Twitter followers waiting for updates, LinkedIn for networking with your business associates, Pinterest for your favourite websites, Instagram for your photos, YouTube for your videos and the list goes on and on and on! I know, it’s mind boggling!
The key to getting on top of social media is to find a system. Firstly, find out which social media sites are most important to you and your customers; Google+, Facebook and Twitter are the most important ones so, if you can do without the rest, then don’t bother with them. If your business works best with photos, for example, then focus on Instagram and let that update your Facebook and Twitter pages. If your business relies heavily on your website then get a blog and post that to your social media accounts to promote and share it. There is always a way of streamlining things and your SEO Consultant will always be willing to help you find the best way for your business model.
Additionally, there are a few websites out there designed to help you manage all of your social media platforms in one place; Hootsuite is a great one, although there are others besides. The beauty of these is that, rather than logging in and out of umpteen sites and posting the same thing three or four times, you can manage all of your accounts from one easy-to-use dashboard, meaning that you only to have post something once and it will update all of your social media platforms. With some packages, you can even have multiple accounts running together, which is great if you want to keep track of both your personal and business accounts.
There are always ways and means of making your many social media commitments (or burdens, if you prefer) come together and, if all else fails, find somebody else who can do it for you. However you do it though, you really are going to have to knuckle down and do it.
3. “I don’t want to have to update people every time I have a cup of tea”
No, and to be frank, nobody wants to hear about it every time you have a cup of tea or make a sandwich, it’s a social media urban legend!
The ultimate goal of social media, when used in a business capacity, is to promote you, your company, your website or your products and services, or preferably all four. In order to achieve this, you need to come up with a bit of a plan about what you want to achieve and how you want to go about doing it. This doesn’t need to be a 100 page laminated document, it can be as little as a casual chat with your SEO Consultant, just to set out some basic guidelines and get a feel for a general direction.
One of the secondary complaints that I hear most often on this theme is the “I don’t have anything to say” argument. You do, you just to expand your horizons a little bit. Of course, updates from you about how many times you’ve been to the loo that day or how many tea breaks you’ve taken are going to inspire no one and you will lose, rather than gain, followers. Instead, if you genuinely have nothing to say about your immediate business, then comment on a news item that is relevant to your sector, or forward a link to an article that you read or program you saw that may also interest your customers. If all inspiration fails you, then send out a (clean) joke, just as long as you keep that on-message dialogue going between your company and your customers.
Another common misconception about social media is that you need to be updating it every five minutes. You don’t and, again, if you bombard your customers with a constant stream of rubbish then they’ll tune out altogether. If you can manage one update a day then that’s great but, if you can only find something interesting to say once a week, then that’s better than nothing and will still keep your business in the forefront of your customers’ minds ready for when they need you.
All in all, social media is about building a relationship with your current and potential customers and should ultimately be an advantage to your business rather than an exhausting burden. There is always a way of finding a compromise that works for you and your SEO advisor will be happy to sit down with you and help you figure one out. Just, whatever you do, don’t dismiss it out of hand, or else you’ll find that the competition will leave you behind.