Has Social Media Really Changed?

As a small business owner who likes to connect with other small business owners… I get to hear my fair share of griping about social media. It’s confusing (it is), the algorithm (pick your channel) is suppressing reach, it’s a hassle, I hate keeping up with trolls…

Probably the one that plucks at my own heart strings the most is how it – particularly Facebook – raises obstructions to organic connection with potential followers, fans, customers, or clients.

So…. yes. I get it.

In 2012, I had a Facebook Page on which I spent virtually nothing. With in a year, I popped up to 2000 followers. What’s more, we (and by we, I mean the followers of the Page) had good interaction. On a daily basis, we chit-chatted about things – usually related to the Page topic, even loosely, but not always. I did buy one ad – ran it for a single day – to build an email list. Otherwise, we were able to interact regularly.

Why? Two reasons:

  1. Because if I posted, the post went to people’s newsfeeds.
  2. Because I responded, and so did others in the community.

These weren’t just static posts, memes to be chuckled at and shared. These were jumping off points for sharing things about our day, launching discussion, or sharing ideas.

Recently, I was sent this article from the Buffer blog, and asked for my opinion.
Why I Think Social Media is For Branding and Engagement, Not Traffic or Revenue.

(Go ahead and pop over to read the article. I’ll be here when you get back.)

In response to the inquiry about my opinion, I have a couple of thoughts.

  • Well, yes. But that’s not new. Social Media has always been a place where potential customers can get to know your business,and current clients can send a quick pm or post to ask about hours, availability, or a customer service issue. That’s branding right there. And let’s face it, if someone is asking about your hours, or policy, or needs help with an issue, I certainly hope you’re actively responding (I’m not a big fan of the private message bots). Active, personal responses are engagement. #amirite #sothispartisnotnew
  • <ahem> I don’t sell directly on Facebook (although some of my clients do). But there are some folks out there rakin’ in the bucks and they are doing so strictly on social media.

It’s not a big secret how, either. My bet is that you’ve seen – and probably clicked like – on these efforts. Want to know who these people are? Okay, so- you know those posts you see in your feed, a bunch of your Facebook friends liked the post, so Facebook is showing it to you? And it’s a really cool mermaid necklace/salad chopper/gadget for drawing angles? Yes. Those things. They’re for sale, and here’s how it works: The seller identifies a trending product, creates a landing page, and then runs a Facebook ad that very specifically targets people who love mermaids and buy jewelry (or eat lots of salad or do lots of handyman projects, you get the idea). These ads aren’t running because Facebook is brilliantly hypnotizing people into getting out their credit cards to buy ads. They’re running because other people are actually getting out their credit cards to buy mermaid necklaces, salad choppers, and gadgets for drawing angles. Lots of them. for this reason, I firmly disagree that social media is “not for” revenue.

As for the traffic issue – To my mind, this goes back to the engagement issue. Scenario: a blog is published, and shared on a social media channel – with enough content to give the reader a clear idea of the topic and that there’s more if you follow the link to the full article. Of the people who see your post*, some will scroll on by. Some will comment without bothering to read the entire article (so keep that in mind when you post your snippet). And, some will follow the link to read the entire article. And that, right there, is traffic.

So – what has really changed in social media? The users.

The users who are your target customers/clients/community are savvier. They know the platform. They have lightning speed – partly because they are so comfortable with the tech, partly because the social media channels have gotten better at being easy to use, and partly because they have to be fast. They’re busy. They’re scanning email in line at the grocery store, they’re scrolling through Instagram while waiting to pick up their lunch order.
I agree with the writer that there is an experience of “content shock.” The social media world is crammed with images, video, and memes clamoring for the users’ attention. It’s a matter of self-protection to screen out what the algorithm does let through.

So make it worth their time and worth their attention.

And, absolutely, above all, when you have engagement, respond. If people have made it clear that you are worth their time, be sure to demonstrate that they are worth your time in return. *Acknowledged, social media channels have placed “barriers” for business interests to pay for reach. Well, it’s their property. Your website is yours. You don’t expect your business to run for free. It’s not really fair to expect any social media channel to run for free. Do your homework, and spend your time (and, sometimes, yes, your money) where it will work the best for you, your business, and your customers.

sign showing we like you too. good facebook citizen

Be a Good (Facebook) Citizen

So – I am not one of those people who works at home in my pajamas. If you are, good for you! Me, I can’t do it. It has an effect on my mindset. I need to be ready to go, mentally, and how I’m dressed is part of that mindset.
Mindset is important. We all know how much more we can get done when we’re “in the zone.” It’s not just about the quantity of work, it’s about the quality as well. When you’re in the right frame of mind, you put out a lot, and it’s generally “better” than those days where things aren’t quite coming together the way you hope. I firmly believe that mindset is a big issue in how we handle social media. Not everyone will agree, and I’ll say right here: Only you can define what works for you. But this has been on my mind for a long time, and I’d like to share just a few of my thoughts.
Offline, most of us try to be good citizens. We don’t litter, avoid jaywalking, and really do try to remember to use our turn signal. Sometimes we even let the other guy take the left turn before we proceed through the intersection. Being a good citizen, exercising civility is something that makes life better for everyone (including ourselves). Why wouldn’t you want to be a good Facebook citizen?
The same thing is true online. Each social channel media channel has a slightly different culture, and today I’m only going to talk about Facebook. Following these simple guidelines will help you stay that person people who’s posts make other smile – not cringe.

  1. Don’t immediately accept a friend request. Seriously, whether you immediately recognize the person or not, visit their profile page. Do you know them? If you don’t, how many friends do you have in common and who are they? This can be a big clue to why they want to connect. If you do know them, still check out the profile. Make sure this looks like the person you know offline. If you don’t have time to check, then just let the request sit. It will wait for you. They don’t spoil.
  2. Make your friend list private. This is probably the single most important thing you can do. It’s a very common scam for people to phish (copy) a profile and then send friend requests to all of the friends of the person they are decoying. They’re using your established relationship as a trust basis to ultimately run a financial scam. A new, more recent version, is when one of these unsavory folks phishes only the Messenger account. They still copy the Facebook profile picture and send requests to your friends, but don’t create a separate Facebook profile. Don’t fall for it. If you can’t link to their profile from within Messenger, ask pointed questions to see if this is the person you know. But – to get back to my point: This scam doesn’t work when you have your friends list private. The whole point of this scam is to abuse the trust your friends have in you. Protect your friends from dealing with these jerks by keeping your friend list private. No temptation, and the scammers move on.
  3. Don’t add people to your Facebook group without getting their permission first. Just.don’t. Ask. It’s not a big deal to ask, and then you know what their interest level is.
  4. No vaguebooking. Got a bone to pick with someone? Don’t post about it on Facebook and just “not name names.” It’s not good form. It’s not edifying. If you can – let it go and move on. And if you can’t do that, then deal with the issue but don’t electronically air your dirty laundry. Ew.
  5. Cheer others on. Facebook has its pros and cons, but one of my favorite things about it is that, every day, I can easily support and encourage people. We don’t always have time we’d like to chat with friends, but in just a few seconds, we can bring some sunshine into their day with a comment (Congrats!). I’ll let you in one a secret. I am a reactionary reveiwer. When I have a bad experience with a company, I head online… and start writing reviews for other companies. Companies and businesses that have served me well – I sing their praises! I feel great, they get an endorsement, and my comments help other people to know businesses that can be trusted. Sure, I write a bad review when called for. But I think people would rather read where to go than spend their time reading what to avoid. I’ll tell you from experience: writing good reviews has always made me feel better that writing a well-deserved bad one.

Need some help with your social media? If managing your social media seems as if it should be obvious but feels like being lost in the woods, make an appointment for a free consultation. We can help you make social media work for you (and not the other way around).

Are You Spinning Your Wheels on Social Media?

At this point in the twenty-first century (can you believe it’s nearly 20% over?), most of us have a very big chunk of experience on social media. That’s not the same as having professional experience. One of the upsides of having a lot of professional experience is that I no longer waste my time when it comes to social media. My time is valuable, and I know how to use it best. Most of the time I first speak with a new client, our social media conversation goes in one of two directions:

  1. They have social media channels. Why don’t they get more interaction/sales/likes?
  2. They spend an enormous amount of time and energy working their social media channels, and have nothing to show for it.

I don’t do either of the above. Let’s take a quick look. They have social media channels. Why don’t they get more interaction/sales/likes? The answer to this lies in Analytics (also called Insights on Facebook). Who has liked you? Who actually follows you? When are they online? When you use hashtags, do you get more or less interaction? These answers may not be spelled out (sometimes they are), but they are there. Social media isn’t a billboard on the side of a highway. It’s social – give people something motivating to click, like, or share. They spend an enormous amount of time and energy working their social media channels, and have nothing to show for it.To be honest, when they’re telling me about all the time and actions they’re taking, these folks never mention results. When I ask – I get answers ranging from “nothing” to “I don’t know.” The “nothing” results always puzzle me – why keep spending your time (and money) in fruitless action? The “I don’t know’s” are on the right track. If only there is a way to know. Well, usually, there is. And if there isn’t a direct way, there’s a workaround to help you figure out what is working so you can stop spending your efforts on what isn’t.

I generally share with clients that I am a believer in social media marketing – that is, in buying well designed, curated, and monitored ads. But, with most of my clients, we don’t get there for months. Because the fact is, if you’re not managing your social media, you are absolutely not ready to use it to market anything.

If you’re just looking to burn calories, maybe build some endurance – then a stationary bicycle that just spins the wheels while you pedal up a sweat will do. But if you actually want to go somewhere, you need to have contact with the road while you’re pedaling.

Do you want to take your social media to the next level, but you don’t think your ready? Set up a call. We can get your rolling – and show results.