You have decided to start a business and everything is ready to go: you have your product, vendors, marketing strategy, funding, trusted business partners and pure tenacity to take the entrepreneurial leap.
But then you read a heap of articles online talking about the importance of social media and how you need to use it to manage your online presence on a daily basis.
Ain’t nobody got time for that!
However, the game has changed and along with it, you have go with what is being called the new wave of social media marketing: humanizing your brand, personalizing your strategy and connecting with others every single day no matter if you’re B2B, B2C and everything else between. Not to mention, you need to watch out for major PR missteps when executing your strategy.
Social media is not about just sending out messages about your product whenever you have time for it — it’s about consistently keeping up with your customers, clients, industry and changing trends everyday on multiple platforms through two-way conversations, the two biggest social media websites being Facebook and Twitter.
It may seem easier to have an application or program to schedule out or cross-post your daily updates, and most times — it is! However, along with automatic processes, it’s wise to constantly monitor your accounts (and those who manage it) before you make some major PR mistakes.
Here are the top 3 reasons why entrepreneurs need a human to manage social media:
1. People want to know you care enough to put in the effort to communicate.
Social media is just what it implies: it’s all about interacting socially. While it may seem like a good idea to have your Facebook updates automatically posted to your Twitter, it lacks a platform-specific strategy and can hurt your chances of being taken seriously in the social media world. Twitter is a different world from Facebook, just like Pinterest is miles away from Google+. HootSuite is very useful to schedule out your social media updates, but you also want to “humanize” the experience for your audience as much as possible.
For example, on Twitter, you are more likely to be noticed if you mention other people on Twitter relating to your industry and brand. It’s also useful to do so when you are “Live Tweeting” from events and trade shows to be updating and interacting to gather interest and leads from event goers. Keeping this in mind, each platform needs a specific strategy with a consistent “voice” to communicate your brand’s message effectively.
You also want to be able to interact with customers who have positive or negative feedback on your product or service. A recent study found that 70% of companies ignore customer complaints on Twitter – don’t be one of those companies! Have an open door policy with your customers by delegating a person to handle your social media and it will pay itself forward (more on that with the next one)
2. Hacking woes.
You may have heard of the recent hacks of large companies on Twitter, such as the most recently Burger King. What you may not have heard about was a Twitter account hack of a popular Mediterranean fast food chain in California (Not naming the brand, since it was not a heavily publicized incident).
Someone hacked into the company’s Twitter account and posted vulgar comments relating to male genitals, with comparisons to the restaurant’s food. It took over 18 hours for it to be deleted. Another one popped up and this time having to do with female ladyparts, which took about another seven hours for that one to be removed. And that wasn’t all, a third Tweet was posted insulting the eatery and that was removed about another six hours later.
While you can imagine someone was working on getting the problem fixed swiftly, there was no communication broadcast on the Facebook account (which appeared to not be hacked) or the company website. And to boot, the company was automating their Facebook updates to Twitter — which like I said above, not a good idea! This may have delayed response since perhaps passwords were not known immediately if nobody was updating the Twitter on a daily basis. The delayed response made more than a few (unhappy) customers comment about the hack on both the company’s page and their personal Facebook profiles.
Hacking is something that can be inevitable, but you can avoid it by 1. changing passwords often 2. updating your accounts separately. 3. having a set of guidelines and disciplinary actions should an employee misuse the company’s social media account and make sure when an employee leaves your company, get the password! 4. If a hack into your accounts happens, make sure you communicate to your audience ASAP that you are working on the problem.
When you’re a small business, you’re a tiny fish in a big pond. You may lack resources in the beginning and that is perfectly normal. However, the size of your company can be a good thing because you can form a tight-knit team that can take care of problems in no-time. You don’t have to worry about going down the line of bureaucracy because you have all the people you need in the same room. If you have a dependable and trustworthy team, you can take advantage of it and score the edge in the social media marketing world.
Which leads me to the #3 reason why you need a human to update your social media…
3. You don’t just need a person, but the right person.
Not just anyone can manage your social media — it needs to be someone who can take care of problems and conflicts in a calm, ethical and reasonable manner. Recently, Applebee’s came under fire after engaging in Facebook comment faux paus, including copy and pasting responses to customers, deleting a series of comments and arguing with customers. The Girl Scouts of America was criticized for sending out a tweet to a Brownie with misleading information about her savvy cookie sales tactics, only to backpedal when a superior had the opposite to say.
If you are careful with who you hire to manage your social media and offer decent compensation, you will notice a big difference between your strategy and your competitors. Make sure you come up with a clear and concise guide on how to handle different scenarios consistent with the company purpose and brand’s image and if possible, document everything that does happen (good or bad) so you can evaluate these situations when they come up.
As if starting and managing a business isn’t hard enough, taking care of your social media is going to be a tough task and you or your team may make mistakes. The big guys have done it and it’s inevitable that any of these may happen to you. But having a clear social media strategy along with an experienced media relations team can minimize the occurrence and it’s effects. Take the time and energy to invest into your strategy and you will see your company take off in ways your competitor will only wish theirs would have.