Social media presents great risks as it does rewards for small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Among social media’s shortcomings: it doesn’t convert prospects to customers with the same ease that search does. Fortunately, as Facebook continues to open up more opportunities for local targeting, social media is becoming more feasible.
With an increasing number of SMBs exploring the power of social media, here is a list of potential pitfalls to avoid with guidance from aimClear Co-Owner and Founder Marty Weintraub, author of “Killer Facebook Ads.”
1. Social Media Managers Aren't Always as Brilliant as You Think
Just because you've hired the sharpest 20-something in the world doesn’t mean they understand the nuances of managing a brand and its community.
“You are essentially putting a college student in charge of your public brand,” Weintraub said. “You need a person who can be as close to the brain trust and heart of the organization as possible. These are the thought leaders and true evangelists of your company.”
Solution: Find community managers who best represent the image and smarts behind your organization. It's important that managers have expertise and perspective, in addition to experience working with social media. Hiring digital natives will also strengthen your bench.
2. Making People in Your Social Media Community Look Presidential
When SMBs are managing a community, it's easy to make individuals who comment about your brand or retweet your tweets look powerful.
“Don’t forget that your social media profile belongs to you, and you are the one who should be deciding what the conversation should be,” Weintraub said. “There is a fine line between censorship and free speech, which has the potential for user backlash. Knowing when to shutdown blabbering malfeasance can make all of the difference.”
Solution: As a community manager, it is important to know when to cut conversations off. If someone is complaining unreasonably about your brand, it's time to shut down their access to your community.
3. Conversations Taking Place When SMBs Aren't Listening
Community managers are potentially losing control of their brand as soon as conversations go from public to private. Every company, irrespective of size, has a social brand. A one-person plumbing company can be as badly impacted by an out-of-control social conversation as an airline.
“Conservations that SMBs cannot hear can hurt them,” Weintraub said. “SMBs have to understand their reputation management universe and do whatever it takes to listen to what people are saying about a brand.”
Solution: Research and plug in to all social media channels that may have something to do with your business. Don’t be afraid to engage in a conversation if it has implications for your brand.
4. Behaving in a Patronizing or Gratuitous Way
As community managers, there is a tendency to take on lofty tones in tweets, blog posts, etc … when you may not truly understand the vernacular of a particular subject or community.
“In real life, most people don’t tell complete strangers on the street that they are dressed beautifully,” Weintraub said. “But if you understand the vernacular, you can truly push the limits of criticism and commentary.”
Solution: Lurk in communities where you want to get a better understanding of the vernacular. If your business is launching a new widget, listen to how professionals in the field are talking about the very same widget. Once you have a sense of the appropriate use of verbs, adjectives, and nouns, join the conversation. Bottom line: Unless you plan to retire sometime in the next week or two, you have to get involved.
5. Advertising, Marketing & Public Relations Agencies That Have Hung a Social Media Shingle
It doesn’t mean they understand content that engages, promotes, or converts prospects to customers.
“There are very few experts in social media,” Weintraub said. “It takes a lot of time and work to develop such expertise, especially now that social communities are turning off the ability to market to anyone other than friends.”
Solution: You may have to spend a little more money to hire people who truly have expertise in their field. In the meantime, SMBs should set up their own Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages to get the ball rolling. Once you’re ready to build a community, start off on the right foot by finding the right help.