You’ve tried just about everything you can think of on Facebook and your business page still feels like a ghost town, with tumbleweed blowing through it. No-one seems to see it, nobody likes or comments apart from your friends and family, and it’s certainly not helping you sell anything. Gah!
Twitter scares the pants off you. Instagram is great but what’s with all the hashtags and as for Pinterest? Well, you can easily lose an afternoon gazing at beautiful things on there but how the heck is it supposed to help you build your business?
So, what do you do when you feel like it’s just not working for you? Should you give up? Pay for expensive ads that probably won’t work either? Stick a sandwich board over your shoulders and take to the streets? Buy a megaphone? Well, that might work…or you could just take another look at your relationship with social media.
The Thing About Social Media
The first thing to remember is first and foremost, social media is there to connect people and build relationships. It’s designed around the user, rather than businesses.
So, the first thing you need to look at is how you are using social media. Are you using it like a frustrated business owner who is desperate to sell stuff? Or are you using it like a relationship-building network, where fans and followers are actually real people and not something to be collected and counted? Those are two very different approaches and could have a big impact on how they work for you.
Why Social Media Might Not Be Working For You
I see loads of Facebook pages that are just sell, sell, sell. They push out the same old messages, on autopilot, a few times a week but there is no relationship building going on.
I see Twitter accounts that are just auto-posts from LinkedIn or Facebook. Sentences are cut off, pictures are the wrong size and there is nothing to tempt you to read the tweets, let alone click.
I see Instagram accounts full of dark, badly lit images that look out of place among the lovely photos displayed by other accounts.
These are just a tiny few of the reasons why social media might not be working for you – there are many, many more.
All these ‘mistakes’ are symptoms of someone who doesn’t know what THEY want from social media or, crucially, what their CUSTOMERS want from it.
Oooh I Love That!
Think of the social media accounts you love to follow.
Are there Facebook pages that feel like a lovely place to be? They might show you things you would love to buy. They might help you with tips and advice. They might even feel like a community. They definitely feel like somewhere it’s worth spending time. My goal with Facebook is for my page to be a really useful resource, somewhere business owners can come and find things they like and that will help them. And it works. It helps me to build my business. And I have fun at the same time.
I know I love certain sites because the page owners are artists or crafters and they show things they are working on. I love seeing videos of things being made. I also follow some pages because they share really good tips and advice. In some cases I just love the way they do things. How about you? What are your favourite Facebook pages to follow?
Are there any Twitter accounts you find funny? Or interesting? Or useful? Or thought-provoking? I’m not a big Twitter user but the accounts I do follow tend to be useful. They share things I need to know or keep on top of. My friend, on the other hand is a Twitter ninja. She takes part in local Twitter hours and has made real friends as a result. She’s also had lots of business from it. She’s also had her business featured in a couple of magazines as a result of getting to know journalists on Twitter. She really enjoys using it and it shows.
How about the Instagram accounts you follow – there will be some that you find fabulous or inspirational, I’m guessing? Again, I’m quite a casual Instagram user but I know some business owners who are IG whizzes! They have their content down to a fine art. Not all of them have businesses where they have ‘pretty’ things to photograph, but they make up for it by posting inspirational quotes, fun videos and great tips. I know gift shop owners who drive traffic to their bricks and mortar shop and website via Instagram, and it brings sales. I know jewellery designers and fitness instructors who are using Instagram to build awareness of their brand and they get customers from it. And they are having fun while they do it.
I’m pretty sure with our non-business head on it’s easy to see which social media platforms and users we love and which we don’t. We just forget to apply that same thinking to our business social media.
Why Did I Think That Was A Good Idea?
Why do we think we’ll do well with sell, sell, sell when it doesn’t work on us?
Why do we think it’s a good idea to fill our Twitter feed with auto-posts from Facebook when it cuts off our sentences and looks rubbish – we wouldn’t click on other people’s accounts if they looked like that, so why do we do it?
Would you REALLY click on a bad photo on Instagram, where the lighting is all wrong and you can’t really see what you’re looking at? Or would you just not bother and instead look and like and comment upon the lovely photos?
If we just put ourselves in the shoes and mind of our customers, we wouldn’t do these things. We just get busy and we forget. We stick any old stuff out there because we need to be on social media, don’t we?
Could Your Social Media Be Harming Your Business?
Imagine if someone we met at an event checked out our Instagram account, to see badly-lit, hastily posted images that really don’t do us justice… would that be more favourable than seeing an account with just one or two lovely images and a bio taking us to our just-as-lovely website?
How about if someone was referred to us and checked out our Twitter account, to find a feed full of ‘couldn’t be bothered to do it properly’ tweets?
And what if a magazine was looking for businesses to feature and they checked out your Facebook page to find nothing other than random, salesy posts and no attempt at showing the heart and soul of the business?
Do you see what I mean about badly-done social media doing more harm than good?
Quick Steps To Making Social Media Work For You
Let’s look at how it could work, if you are not sure what to do for the best.
- First of all, pick ONE platform. Ideally the one you like best, which ideally also happens to be where your potential customers will be looking. One platform done well is better than several done badly.
- Stop counting fans and start talking to people. Every fan or follower is a person. This doesn’t mean you have to personally welcome every new fan to your page or account (that can look a bit stalky) but it does mean you need to try to get people talking. A handful of ‘engaged’ people is worth more than a thousand who are indifferent. Think about what makes YOU love certain pages or accounts or businesses. What can you learn from them?
- Give it a chance – it takes TIME. Once you have figured out what type of content and posts would work best on your chosen social media account, get on and do it. Even if nobody interacts at first. Even if it feels like you’re talking to an empty room. Keep trying new things. New variations. Ask questions. Make and post videos. Try live streaming. Share tips and advice. See where and how you can help your fans and followers, those REAL people behind the usernames. Give it time, keep trying and testing and tweaking. Keep going. Keep helping. And one day, it will start to work. If you are posting the right content – if it’s useful and interesting stuff your buyers would love, it will work. It works ON you, so let’s get it working FOR you.
[Tweet “Stop counting fans and start talking to people #tgmb #socialmediatip “]
Of course, there are loads of other things you can do. I’ve got lots of blogs on social media and how to use it to build your business but my best bit of advice is to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. If you were them, would you love what you see? If you were them, would your social media accounts feel lovely? And useful? And interesting? And like a community? If the answer is NO, then change things until they do.
The bonus is, it’s less work than trying to manage lots of accounts badly and it will feel so much nicer to work on ONE account that makes you and your customers smile. So, should you give up on social media? Well, that’s up to you but why not try what I’ve suggested, have some fun, make some changes and see if you can’t fall in love with it a bit. Your business will thank you for it.
Claire Mitchell is a best-selling author of the Awesome Marketing Planner and founder of The Girls Mean Business, a mum and business owner. She has been featured in Marie-Claire, The Guardian, Closer Magazine, Essentials, The Huffington Post and on the BBC.