I get it. I do.
You don't do social media.
Maybe you don't know how to, you don't care, you don't have the time, you can't afford it, or you just don't see how it can benefit you. Many businesses don't ever tap into the full potential of social media.
And honestly, that's ok. If you aren't going to do it right, it can actually hurt you more than it helps you.
But, unfortunately, you still need to be on social media, and there is a bare minimum you should put into it. And that's what this blog is about.
But first, a story,
Jenny posted on Facebook, “John and I are finally getting a night away from the kids! And since we don’t have to worry about finding something the kids will actually eat, we’re looking for recommendations on local Indian food. Come at me FB!”
The most recommended restaurant from Jenny’s Facebook friends was one of those “ole-in-the-wall, mom-and-pop type places, Indian Kitchen. No one tagged it, and Facebook didn’t automatically pull it up as a recommendation, so Jenny had to search for it. She found one check-in from four years ago, but no actual Facebook profile. So she went to Google. Again, she found only the address and phone number.
And let’s be honest, no one likes to call a restaurant and actually talk to someone.
So Jenny went back to her post, clicked on a recommendation for The Bohri Kitchen (which had a link). She confirmed it would be open and her favorite Indian dish was on the menu.
Jenny and John loved their experience at The Bohri Kitchen, and it became a go-to date night spot. And for years to come, she would fondly reminisce when her memories showed her first check-in with a photo of her and John, so young., and think, we've got to go back there!
And she never thought about Indian Kitchen again.
You're welcome for the bit of cheese.
This scenario happens a million times a day, though the people and the businesses may vary somewhat. A teen sci-fi romance writer looking for the right publisher. A curly-haired, middle aged professional woman looking for a stylist. A mid-scale home renovator looking for a new fencing installer. They get recommendations, then follow up. And they end up wherever they find the info they need.
Unfortunately, this means some of the best providers, even when recommended, will never be a contender simply because they don’t have their information where they need it to be. Which, in summary, is wherever their customer goes to look for it.
I know this because there are analytics that prove it,
And as a potential customer, I do it, too.
The truth is, you don’t need active, vibrant social media that does #AllTheThings in order to be successful. In fact, there are a lot of instances where you can have plenty of success without a social media strategy.
For instance, I have a client who consulted with me about building her social media, but when I started talking to her about her ideal client and her business goals, we agreed that social media is a waste of time for her right now. She would be much more effective at meeting her business goals by focusing on developing a user-friendly website and building one-on-one, in-person relationships with her potential clients.
But that doesn't mean she doesn't need to give her social media presence some attention. When she’s done the leg work and her ideal client is ready to reach out, she has to be accessible! And in most cases, that’s as easy as having a basic presence on social media.
So even though you may not need to have the biggest and best social media, there is still benefit... and an expectation... for all businesses and solo professionals to have at least some sort of presence on social media. And the benefits far outweigh any nuisance, because:
So here is the bare minimum of what your presence on social media should look like.
BEFORE YOU GET STARTED
Always always always, before you do anything, take some time to understand who you are/what your business is, what your values are, what products and services you provide, what value they are to your customer/client, and who your ideal client is.
Worlds of work and trouble and frustration and stalling and wasted effort can be eliminated if you take the time ahead of the process to figure these things out.
And this is the foundation for completing even the bare minimum of your social media presence.
WHERE YOU SHOULD BE
You should not be on every platform. Period. But there are definitely places you should be.
Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter
These are the basic three. Again, people use these platforms as a directory. Sometimes visitors to your profile are looking to engage, but a lot of times they are looking for a website, address, etc. Just make sure you’re there with the bare minimum (see below).
This doesn’t make sense for everyone, because their business may not be “business suit professional.” But consider that people may be interested in interviewing you, writing about you, inviting you to speak at a function, inviting you to their board, etc. Having a complete, professional profile on LinkedIn helps get you there.
Industry-specific platforms like Yelp for restaurants, Goodreads for authors, DeviantArt for artists, etc.
Though these aren’t technically social media platforms, they have a social component to them. But more importantly, they are often shared on social media, and they are a Go-To source for people in your industry, and your ideal client/customer likely knows that. Wherever your ideal client is looking, be there.
Google business profile
You know when you search Google for a business and over to the right there’s a summary? Too often it has almost no information, or worse, it’s incorrect or just ugly. Near the bottom of that profile is a link that says, “Own this business?” Follow that link and get her done.
WHAT YOU SHOULD HAVE ON YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA
Again, you don't have to go all out, put all your products/services on there, post every day, etc. But the items below are pretty important in ensuring you are using your social media presence minimally but optimally.
Complete bio with INFORMATION... not just flavor.
Too often we are tempted to have our personality shine without grounding it to what we actually do. No, it’s not as fun. But when someone goes to a page, they want to know what is actually going on, if they have the right place, and why they should be there. That’s where the bio/description comes in handy.
You can, of course, accomplish both the basic information and establishing a voice for the business, but make sure you do it well. So when in doubt, follow this format.
Keep in mind, too, that many platforms have word count and media restrictions (links, hashtags, etc.), but others have multiple opportunities for your About info. Just make sure you have the basics front and center before you start getting cute or weird or whatever your flavor is.
As mentioned, people use social media as a directory, so you want to make sure you have all the relevant ways you want someone to contact you. This may include a website, email, phone number and physical and/or mailing address. But don’t include information you won’t respond to or you don’t want someone to have.
Website and other web presence
Not all businesses need a website, but if you have one, especially if you update it with content, you need people to go there.
Where possible, you should have all platforms connected by links. Your FB should mention your Insta, your website should note all the places you are, and so on. And if you are more active on one social media over another, make sure you direct people to that platform in your bio.
Your logo and professional photos
Even if you have bare minimum on your profile, this is a major opportunity to leave a positive… or negative… impression. Make sure the logo(s) and leading photos of your business, your product, and yourself are professional or as close to it as possible.
If you can’t afford professional photos, ask someone who isn’t a professional but who has really good photos of the things you need pictures taken of (not people who take good selfies, it’s not the same). Ask them to take some shots or at least teach you how they take their shots. Definitely offer to pay them for their work, even if it’s not what they do for a living.
And for the record, selfies don’t count for this. You’re welcome to add some in addition to more professional photos, but if you are your business… and most of us are... you should have a professional photo.
A pinned post
Many platforms allow professional profiles to pin a specific post(s) to the top so that this is what people see first when they visit. You can include a welcome post, a bit About your business, directions for how to contact you, what visitors can expect, and any relevant updated information (seasonal hours, free delivery, coming soon, etc.).
AND DON'T FORGET!!!
Keep your information updated!
Set a calendar event, task, or jot down in your planner a day every six months or so to check all your profiles are active and accurate. It’s so frustrating to go to a profile for information and it’s outdated!
So no, you don’t have to be a social media queen. But it’s better for your business to have a foundation of complete and accurate information. Once you have this established, you can let it be or you can take it to the next level of social media optimization with regular posting, interacting with potential customers, and then deep diving into analytics, optimizing each platform’s peculiarities, and developing and managing your own groups (where the gold is!).
If you’d like help, I can do that. I help individuals and businesses develop their social media from bare minimum to custom vibrant, high traffic strategies and services. Let’s set up a 30-minute discovery call so we can see where you’re at, where you want to be, and how I can help get you there!
Tara Cloud Clark provides freelance consultation, strategy, and implementation for Branding and Identity, Social Media and Content, and Project Management. Here she provides tips on these topics.