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Business Owners – Stop Being Scared of Social Media

Andy Williams

by Andy Williams on 27th September 2012

GhostsWe have all read it and we have all heard it coming from all angles especially since Penguins and Pandas caused havoc with so many online businesses:

It’s all about social signals.

It’s all about Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

It’s all about having that presence. Isn’t it?

Although, not according to a high number of online businesses who still don’t want to have a social presence. Some don’t believe they have a business interesting enough to regularly Tweet about. Others don’t have the time.

There are also those that are scared of giving their customers a platform to be able to publically criticise their company.

Whatever their reason, it’s time all of these businesses faced facts – they need a social presence.

Social signals have an impact on your rankings and there is no getting away from it. Online businesses have a choice, either get involved or get left behind.

Today I am going to go through the usual reasons I hear for people not getting involved and providing you with links and tips as to how and why you should get started.

Stop hiding under the duvet

So let’s cut straight to the main issue – “If I create a Facebook page then customers may leave negative comments for all to see”.

Stop hiding, get out there and engage with your customers. No company can get everything right all of the time and there will be occasions when some customers may not get the kind of experience they wished for but that is life. People do complain. Give them a social platform and yes they may well leave a comment.

However here is the great part of that – you get to showcase your customer service skills in real time in front of an audience.

How?

A full rundown on how to handle online criticism is covered by my college Alec here: “Handling Online Criticism“.

Whether you like it or not these social platforms are where your clients are. Why wouldn’t you want to be in the same place?

It’s a no brainer surly?

If you don’t have a presence you can be sure your competitors do. Right now they could be talking to your customers. Is this really something you should be shying away from?

I don’t have time

We are all busy; no one really has time for anything anymore, so adding to your daily list of things to do isn’t a favourable choice. Including social management to your list of daily tasks may not be high on the agenda – but it really should be.

You need to make time for this.

This doesn’t have to solely be your responsibility. Get your team involved. Add time to your calendars. Have a set time each day when you login and engage, monitor and respond.

Social should be part of your online business model.

This is free marketing on a huge scale

freeIt really is.

Think about this.

Name the main players in social today: Did you name Twitter, Facebook and Google+?

All are free to join. FREE. It doesn’t cost you a thing.

You can create a presence on three of the biggest platforms on the internet for FREE.

You can include your logos, sell your products, update the world about your latest deals, showcase your brand new range and so much more FOR FREE.

Social has become such a part of everyday life that people now look for your presence on these platforms. People want to “like” their favourite brands, people want to Tweet about them.

If they can’t find you be sure that they may find one of your competitors.

Did I mention that it was FREE?

Social Signals

Twitter LogoOK, let us put your fears to one side and get to one of the most important elements: Social Signals.

Whether anyone likes it or not search engines now listen to social signals.

Every time some Tweets about you, every time someone “likes” you, every time someone Google+ 1’s you – they are listening. Every time there is a social engagement it benefits someone. But if you aren’t embracing social – it won’t be you.

No one knows just how much of a part social will end up playing when it comes to rankings (my guess is a big part) but it will and is playing a part right now.

Social provides so much information, the search engines would be shooting themselves in the foot if they didn’t listen.

You only have to look at Google’s own social platform Google+ to see just what they are now looking for:

The number of +1’s

The number of shares

The number of people following you

The authority of all of these factors

Google wants users to share, start conversations and ”like”. It also goes hand in hand with the creation of a more personalised experience. Social will do exactly that.

You are already playing catch up

So are you convinced? GOOD. Now for the bad news… you are already playing catch up.

Your competitors may have been doing this for a while now and may have the jump on you.

So if you have read this and decided that you are going to get on board don’t waste time, do it right now.

Get on Twitter and create a profile.

Get on Facebook and create your business page

Get on Google+ and create your business profile.

So What Should You Be Doing?

Before you go ahead and create these pages, you do need to put some thought into exactly what you are going to do.

Creating the profiles is great but this is your Brand you are promoting. You need to make sure these profiles reflect that.

Use company logos, company backdrops, company fonts. Keep everything consistent.

Facebook

You have your Facebook page, all your company information is on there, and the design is consistent with your company and main site. Now what?

Well you have your platform – now speak, offer, inform, answer.

Start engaging with your customers and new potential customers.

My colleague Tara wrote a great post on using a Facebook page for Business: “Using a Facebook Page for your Business: Stay Safe

To give you a visual here are some great examples of some great Facebook profiles:

Brendan’s Irish Pub Facebook Page

Mabel’s Labels Facebook Page

Old Spice Facebook Page

Twitter

TwitterTwitter is slightly different as you are limited to what message you can put out there with each Tweet. You also have the option of creating a Business account and having accounts for your company members. The more of you pushing your company and tweeting about it the more beneficial this can be for you.

Twitter allows you to engage in real time.

Some great examples of businesses using Twitter:

@Autoglass

@JetBlue

@Homedepot

Twitter also allows you to monitor your Brand easily. Using any of the Twitter management platforms you can set up columns that are dedicated to simply including mentions of your Brand. If you are encouraging people to use a certain hashtag, you can monitor this too.

This is amazing power, think about it – you can see what people are saying about you in real time.

Jump in, talk to them, if they are complaining about something, talk to them.

Google+

Google+Google+ is Google’s latest attempt to get involved in the social market.

After the likes of Google Wave this one looks like it’s staying.

So with all this social information going directly into Google – there is no way they aren’t going to use it.

To date this will be the platform that will feel slightly less populated with the up take having no yet reached the more casual users. However with Google integrating all of their services towards linking in some way to Google+ it won’t be long before everyone jumps on board in some capacity.

If you need more information as to why you need a Google+ Business page, my collegue Steve wrote a more detailed rundown: “Why Your Business Should Have A Google+ Page

A further rundown was written by Dean with his post: “Google+ Pages Six Months On: Why You Should Have One

Above All Offer Customer Service

So you are finally out there, you are starting to build up your following, people are starting to engage but what if we go back to that first issue: “If I create a Facebook page then customers may leave negative comments for all to see”.

The greatest thing about social is it gives you the platform to showcase your customer service in real time to real customers.

If you get this right then your reputation will grow.

People love to moan and yes if you have a social platform that they can publicly complain on, they probably will. However if you then give them great customer service they will sing your praises to anyone who will listen.

Whatever you do, don’t ignore a complaint. Address it, act accordingly. Don’t fall into the trap of offering something to shut them up, deal with it as you would any other complaint.

I wrote a post on this subject after a great customer service experience involving @Autoglass (see they are getting more promotion, I really have banged on about these guys thanks to great customer service – see this stuff works). I also covered how you should respond: “Social Media Monitoring – Are You Offering Customer Service?

I know what you are thinking

“The trouble is there isn’t anything constantly interesting about our company, how can we expect to be able to keep these platforms going. Once you have said it once you have said it all ”

I don’t want to hear it.

There is something interesting about every single subject if you are prepared to think about it.

Look what these guys are doing: Advanced Drainage Systems Facebook Page

They produce corrugated HDPE piping yet regular updates are added and they have a healthy following. It’s not the most glamorous of subjects, but they have still managed to make social work for them.

How about this one: M S Law Solicitors Facebook Page

Again compared to say online shops or brands like Old Spice would you say that a Solicitors company would be able to keep a Facebook page going? They have and look at their following.

There is always something interesting. You just have to think about it.

So by using social you can:

Social MediaPromote your Brand

Make sure you have a presence where your customers hang out

Engage with customers and potential customers

Provide great customer service

Create social signals that will also help your main site climb the search engine rankings

…and it’s all FREE.

Stop being scared of social.

Image Source

Ghost cake pops via BigStock

Andy Williams

Andy Williams

Andy Williams, our DADI award winning Digital Marketing Manager will be giving you useful insights into local search and the overall SEO landscape. Andy has over 9 years experience in the SEO industry including 2 years as the in-house SEO consultant with a leading Web Design company.

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12 Comments

  • Mike Essex

    Mike Essex 27th September 2012

    Lots of good examples Andy. Just to counteract the “Free” part it is worth considering that whilst social profiles are free to set up, they do take a lot of time to manage and engage with a community, and time is money!

    That being said in terms of the cost of Social Media, compared to other channels it is very reasonable and the thrill of having an active community is very rewarding – especially if they convert in to sales and repeat sales.

    Reply to this comment

  • Andy Williams

    Andy Williams 27th September 2012

    Hi Mike,

    I agree, there will always be a cost to anything. Time has to be accounted for. What I was looking to get across is the levels that can be reached all for a free account.

    But yes time is certainly money.

    Reply to this comment

  • Paul 27th September 2012

    I can see this has been written by someone who has a lot of experience talking to business owners about social media. All the common objections and concerns that I hear repeatedly were raised.

    Good to see you going into detail here on the pros. The con as mentioned is managing time whilst continuing to focus on their main business objectives, which are delivering great service and products to their customers.

    I actually wrote a blog post about a way of reducing the workload for business owners by tapping into the understanding of youth. It’s at http://paultherond.com/2012/08/digital-promotions-strategy-youth/ for those that are interested.

    Reply to this comment

    • Andy Williams

      Andy Williams 28th September 2012

      Hi Paul,

      Thanks for the comments.

      I think it is a conversation we have all had at one stage or another.

      Companies need to think about this if only from a Brand protection point of view. Regardless of whether they have time to manage these platforms or not they should be securing them.

      Nice blog post by the way :0)

      Reply to this comment

  • Tom Brodbeck 27th September 2012

    I know that some businesses are still scared to get into social media but I have noticed that more and more businesses are beginning to realize that they can’t ignore it anymore. They are seeing that it isn’t a fad anymore and it is a new way to market their business. Hopefully this trend will continue!

    Reply to this comment

    • Andy Williams

      Andy Williams 28th September 2012

      Hi Tom,

      Fingers crossed. The awareness is certainly on the up and as I mentioned in the post even those who feel they don’t fit into a social environment need to think about this.

      The signals alone mean this can’t be something that is ignored for much longer

      Reply to this comment

  • Amy Fowler 27th September 2012

    Nice post Andy; it *is* tiring trying to get corporates to wise up to the benefits of social media, and the fact that in 2012, being involved in it isn’t really a choice.

    However I find it even more aggravating trying to get clients to understand *how* they should be using social media. So many companies think the fact that they have a company page, and update it with company news every week or so is enough. They don’t see why they should do anything except talk about themselves.

    Hope you don’t mind me linking to this: http://www.boom-online.co.uk/why-some-corporates-just-don%E2%80%99t-get-social-media it’s an article that looks a bit more into how, even when corporates decide to use social media, a lot of them still don’t ‘get’ it.

    Reply to this comment

  • Andy Williams

    Andy Williams 28th September 2012

    Hi Amy,

    Thanks for your comments.

    The education of how to use these platforms correctly of effectively is very important. Engaging with their audience goes way beyond handing out company updates a couple of times a month.

    There is a lot to be said for adding the human element to these types of accounts. Whether users like it or not, people like the human touch. Take Twitter for example I doubt anyone really cares what we all had for Breakfast but updates like that make the whole thing human. People buy into people.

    Nice blog include too :0)

    Reply to this comment

  • Heather Stone 1st October 2012

    Hi Andy,
    Believe it or not, the complaint I hear the most often among businesses that still haven’t ventured into social media is that they are afraid of not being able to control negative comments. In other words, they would prefer if the communication only went one way. Of course, just because they don’t see the comments on their social media channel doesn’t mean their customers aren’t talking about them (in good ways and bad.) Isn’t it better to see what they’re saying so you can respond?

    Reply to this comment

  • Martin Lindeskog 1st October 2012

    Could it be that some business owners are being scared of social media, due to the fact that it is a double-edged sword? If you don’t know why you are in business, how would you participate in social media activities?

    I think that many business owners are reacting as Heather Stone is saying. They only want to use media as one-way channel, like a megaphone, because that is the they have been taught marketing in the past.

    My mission is to spread better ideas regarding business philosophy and new media, by focusing on having a conversation on the trader principle. We should have an exchange of products and services on a free market. The use of social media could facilitate this process and improve the supply and value chain.

    Reply to this comment

    • Amy Fowler 1st October 2012

      Hi Martin,

      I like this way of putting it:

      “They only want to use media as one-way channel, like a megaphone, because that is the they have been taught marketing in the past.”

      I think it will take a long time before a lot of businesses fully grasp how this form of marketing differs to what they’re used to. Some probably won’t ever get it, and will slowly fail as their ‘traditional’ marketing efforts fall on deaf ears.

      This wouldn’t bother me if it wasn’t for the fact that some of these people are clients.

      How do we get clients to understand why they need social media and what it’s actually all about?!

      Reply to this comment

  • Martin Lindeskog 1st October 2012

    Amy: I have struggled with the same thing. I have learned it the hard way and I have come to the insight as a certified networker, that I have to use referral marketing and educated my business partners and potential clients about the power of social media and why (how, when, where, etc.) you should engage in a conversation with your ambassadors, customers, traders in spirit.

    Amber Mac says in her book, Power Friending, be Authentic, Brave and Consistent!

    Reply to this comment

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