Who’s Afraid of a Little Social Media?

Written: 18-May-2014 | | Filed under: Social Media

Are you active on social media? Many small businesses are… and many are still hesitating about dipping their toes in the water. Whether you’re already active or merely considering the possibility, you may be concerned about the time commitment taking you away from other business activities. You may be worried about keeping up — it seems there’s always some new network coming along, or a big update to an existing network. Perhaps you’re having trouble finding the ROI.

To deal with the time commitment, you may be considering hiring someone to help, or at least designating an existing employee as your “social media specialist.” Many organizations make the mistake of assuming because someone is personally active on social media, this will make them a great “community manager” for the organization. Just because someone has managed to amass thousands of Twitter followers or an impressive Klout score, this doesn’t mean they’re the automatically the best person to manage your social media account.

Because social media updates often come in the form of written communication, where people can’t see your face or hear your tone of voice, it’s important for the person doing the posting to be especially skilled. Social media is a unique position, combining marketing and sales, customer service, technical support and, yes, social skills.

You wouldn’t send your least experienced employee to a trade show, untrained and unaccompanied, to represent your company. And yet, all too many companies assign an intern or junior-level employee to handle their social media accounts. (Many of these are companies we later hear about in relation to “epic social media fails.”)

If you plan to hire someone to help with your social media, keep the following in mind:

  • Your social media account manager must have experience dealing successfully with difficult customers. They will likely at one time or another encounter disgruntled people. You want a social media manager who can calm the waters, not make things worse with thoughtless, defensive or overly aggressive responses.
  • Your social media manager should be skilled at marketing. The ultimate purpose of a social media campaign is to increase awareness and, ultimately, sales. But you don’t want to beat people over the head with sales messages.
  • Your social media manager should know your industry, inside and out. To do their job, they need to understand your customers’ needs, wants and pain points, and be able to speak to them in the customers’ language.

It may turn out that you, as the business owner, are actually the best person to handle your company’s social media account. After all, you know your business, you know your market, and you know your customers, probably better than any one else at your company.

Or maybe you’ll decide another of your long-term employees has the customer service skills, industry knowledge and marketing skills best suited to the task. Whether you hand off the job to them entirely, or the two of you manage it together, don’t write them off just because they’re not a 20-something “social media guru.” In fact, you’re probably better off without someone who calls him or herself a “guru” to start with.

In fact, you and your worker may find handling your social media to be a fun and entertaining learning experience. Fortunately, there are tools available to help keep up with social media without sucking up half the day.

A social media dashboard, such as HootSuite, Gremln or MarketMeSuite can be had for $15 or less per month (some have free options), and will help you organize and update your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media accounts. If you want to learn a little more about these options, here’s an article I wrote for the Triangle Interactive Marketing Association that goes into a bit more detail.

Social media offers a great opportunity to reach out to your customers and prospects, increase awareness of your business, provide better customer support — maybe even get better results in the search engines — with just a small investment of time and effort. And who knows? You may even have some fun while doing it!

Happy marketing!

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