A couple of months ago without notice, all of the social media sharing counters on my primary website had reverted to zero. Just like that, thousands of shares that had accumulated over a period of nearly seven years had vanished.
Why is this significant?
Social sharing is what is known as “social proof.” It’s evidence that your site is active and worthy of the attention of new buyers that happen to be passing through.
Not knowing if this action was recoverable, I settled into the realization that I may have to simply move on and start fresh. While the problem was resolved, the incident got me thinking about what I would do if my entire online presence vanished – what then?
So, here is that plan.
It has lessons for businesses that are new to social media, as well as for the rest of us that can (and should) do more of what needs to be done to ensure the online relevance of our businesses in a digital world that is now driven by the customer.
#1 – Build Digital Content Marketing Assets
Your most valuable digital assets are your primary website, blog, and email newsletter.
These are the only true digital assets with which you have complete ownership and control. This means they are your lifelines – your ability to reach out to communities to accomplish whatever is necessary for your business – even if the entire social media universe goes to zero.
If you build these assets well, you will earn the trust and loyalty of your communities. This gives you the opportunity, among other things, to both fix problems and earn new business.
So, if you are missing even one piece of this three-legged stool that supports your business marketing, you should be taking the necessary steps to balance your approach.
#2 – Secure Your Marketing Assets
In addition to backing up your website, blog, and email list, you should be doing the same with all of your social networks.
While personal data is seldom compromised, the possibility always exists that any site on the web can be hacked.
This is why, in addition to backing-up my MacBook Pro daily to the cloud using Dropbox, I also backup with Time Machine to a hard drive.
Having at least two lines of defense is vital – because I know many businesses that had only one lifeline and it failed when they needed it most.
So, backup everything. In addition to your digital assets, you can easily download your LinkedIn connections to both your hard drive and Google Contacts – just scroll down to the bottom of “connections.” Also, you can easily save your Facebook friends and their contact information to Yahoo Contacts.
#3 – Organize Networks by Micro-Communities
Business will continue to be more personal. So, it is important to respect the culture and practices of every community, something that is not possible when you have thousands of connections, fans, or followers.
You can use Interest Lists on Facebook, Tags on LinkedIn, circles on Google+, and lists on Twitter.
If you are a local business, pay special attention to the local community group that Facebook sets up for you. First, if you do not use it very often it will “disappear.” Just click on the “more” button on the left sidebar of your newsfeed to get to it.
Also, you can adjust your local community settings to enlarge “local” from the default of a 10-mile radius, all the way up to 350 miles if your service area extends that far. Just click on the “Manage List” setting in the upper right.
#4 – Think of Your Business as a Media Company
Every business today is a media company that manages a business channel that collectively includes all of the aforementioned digital marketing assets and social networks, plus probably many others.
Your social marketing should not be random. Sure, in the early days we all went fishing on Twitter to see if we could catch a few new business opportunities, but those days are long gone.
As search capabilities become more personal, specific, and accurate, the businesses that are strategically aligned with the communities they serve will easily outdistance those that are taking a shotgun approach.
The stakes are going up.
Your business not only needs a solid social marketing offense, but also a well-planned defense to protect your hard work and ensure your business future.
#5 – Pick a Lane and Own It
Every major accomplishment in your life has been the result of doing one thing consistently well.
Consistency is not only a hallmark of professionals, it is a practice that will make your business memorable for the customers you serve.
Apply this to your small business marketing.
#1 – Choose one activity that will impact your business success.
#2 – Commit to consistently doing it well.
Consistent actions create expectations that attract buyers to your business. Doing this with your social media marketing engages them at an emotional level – and that is memorable.
Where would you be and what would you do if all of your social media went to zero?
Share your thoughts.
Jeff is also the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business – Just Released April 2013 (Wiley)