We get a lot of questions from small business owners asking how much time they should spend on social media or why they aren’t getting anything from their Facebook or Twitter presence. The #1 reason I see for a social media strategy not working is that small business owners aren’t using these social media tools to build trust. Rather they use these tools to post sales, specials, and personal opinions.
I witness it daily. Small business owners struggling to find a balance between their personal life and their business life online. Social media tools make it even tougher to draw that line as clients, high school friends, friends of your children and family all collide on your Facebook wall. People who in real life will never meet, suddenly have equal access to you online.
If you want social media to work for your business, you have to view it as any other marketing tool and use it to build trust with your clients. What that means is putting a big filter on your posts and tweets. The best rule of thumb with social media is this: If you wouldn’t want
what you posted to be published in the local newspaper, then don’t put
it on your wall or tweet it! It seems like common sense, but I can’t tell you how often I see our business owner friends posting things on their Facebook walls or Tweeting things that result in me shaking my head.
The best way to keep your business and personal worlds separate is to have two different Facebook pages / twitter accounts. One for friends and family and one for your small business. Set up a fan page for your business. And don’t friend business contacts rather point them to your brand / fan page.
The stats on the success of brand / fan pages on Facebook is unbelievable! In a recent study published by DDB, 92% of fans of brand pages on Facebook would recommend the brand to friends. Think about the number of referrals you could be getting to your small business from your brand page! And more than 1/3 of people who like a brand’s page whant to buy the brand’s product more. The study shows fans expect more than coupons and discounts from your Fan page. They want to feel like a VIP with access to exclusive content, information about new products and promotional offers before the general public finds out. If you provide this information, your fans will LOVE you and recommend you to their friends.
Separating your personal and business presence on Facebook and Twitter will also keep you from getting distracted while working with your personal relationships. How many times have you gone into Facebook to update your images or post something for business and ended up looking at photos of a friends children, wasting 30 minutes of your workday.
If you’re not ready to take the plunge into separating business and personal pages in social media, here are a few things you can do to keep it professional.
1) Friends can post YouTube videos, jokes, post cards and bumper stickers on your wall that may appeal to you personally, but that could turn off or offend clients. Change your privacy settings so that people can not post on your wall, rather can only send you personal messages to your inbox.
2) Status updates / tweets – keep them business related or don’t post them at all.
3) Send an inbox message to all your personal friends letting them know the page is for business purposes so please keep it clean.
4) Don’t allow people to ‘tag’ photos of you. This will ensure unflattering images of you doing things your client base may not agree with or care to know about aren’t seen.
5) Don’t comment on friends posts or photos that may hurt your brand and your credibility. Remember your friends can see what you post on other’s walls.
Marketing is and always will be about building trust. So everything you do in your social media presence should be about building trust. A rant on a political candidate or a riff on why your day was so terrible may be hurting your brand without you realizing it.