This is a Guest Post by Janek Makulec.
Now we all hear really a lot about social media. The thing is that people who don’t have a clue about social media – they hear it too, but they lack a good explanation. This way many business owners get convinced that social media is a very good and cheap marketing method, perhaps even a bit similar to buzz marketing, allowing to be less formal and closer to customers. But I’m not going to write one of those many posts saying that creating a Facebook page is not enough.
I’d like to put it in a bit more radical way and say this: there are many companies that probably should even avoid social media.
I’m not denying that social media are good and effective. All I’m saying is that they might turn out very risky. Everything goes well until you tweet some news, inform about your company or products, like and share blog posts etc. In other words – until your social media channels aren’t really social.
But when they actually start being social and get some feedback, it’s just a matter of time until you meet some unpleasant situations. This may be for example:
- customers having some problems and expressing their frustration instead of searching for solutions,
- people comparing you to your competition – you don’t get to win all the time…
- pointing out your mistakes and making buzz about it,
- simple trolling or even competition,
and so on.
Many SMBs don’t know how to handle social media. People think that it’s just tweeting or liking and since they do it in their private time using their private accounts, they know how to handle all this. So why should they waste money on a social media specialist? The guy doesn’t really earn any money for you, right?
And that’s the problem, the difference is as between my granny, who shoots holiday pictures, and a professional photographer. In general, they do the same thing – they make photos. But the way the do it and the quality of the effects are huge.
Frankly, it’s a bit easier when you can narrow such communication just to B2B. Business partners don’t compare you to others, they solve problems by contacting you, not by complaining on your public profiles. They also don’t call you names and have nothing against your mother. In such case it may be enough to use social media channels just to keep in touch, be informative, announce news etc. If you can work something like this out with your clients as well – it’s great.
But not everybody can (or knows how to) work out only such informative profiles. It may be just the specific of their business or products. Yet they still want to be social just because everybody else is.
My advice is: hire someone who knows how to run your social media. Don’t be cheap here, but stay reasonable. If your business is too small and you can’t afford to hire such a person – wait. You can sign up to various services to reserve account names, but be aware of the risk if you start using them having no experience.
My friend and colleague wrote on his blog how a perfect marketing department team should look like in a SMB. That’s also a good way – managing social media may be split here between some folks who know how to write and engage people, like a copywriter and an evangelist. But remember that the more engaging and popular your social channels will be, the less time will your employees have to do the work you’ve actually hired them for.
Social media are no marketing magic. It’s a tool like any other – it may do a lot good, but you still have to work hard with it.