Small Business Social Media Accountability

Small Business Social Media

Recent tragic events here in the United States (and around the world) have heightened awareness of the global reach of media, especially social media, and the consequences for businesses using it.

Small business advertising has historically been local, making it easy to craft messaging that is appropriate for the targeted audience. However, now any piece of digital content has the capability of reaching audiences far removed from those for which it is intended.

This creates new responsibilities that many businesses are only just beginning to fully comprehend.

Your small business may be local, but your words spread far and wide, and that has consequences that can dramatically affect its reputation.

It is prudent for every business to recognize that they are a media company, and with that comes responsibilities for which is must be accountable.

Have a Larger Perspective

Many businesses autopublish information on their social media channels. This practice is useful for convenience, provided the content is monitored. Unfortunately, many influencers and businesses were swept into a controversy in the wake of the Boston Marathon tragedy, largely because what they were publishing had gone unchecked.

This is precisely why delegating the social media function to a low-level employee is not a good idea. When this is done the risk of making making poor decisions rises significantly.

To be sure, this may also hold true for media agencies that are inexperienced, or do not know your business well. And let’s face it, nobody knows your business like you do.

The solution is to weigh what is published against the values and beliefs of the organization.

Naturally, this larger perspective has to come from leadership, and it has to be clearly articulated in a manifesto or core values that everyone then adheres to.

Choose a Professional Approach

Zappos is an example of a company that manages their social media well; and this is accomplished by simply linking its employees’ social media sharing to its ten core values, which are focused on achieving world-class customer service.

When a business is intensely focused on the customer, it’s messaging necessarily becomes more professional. It’s when businesses seek to draw attention to themselves that the message can be interpreted to be self-serving, insensitive, or shallow.

Vital elements of the media message to carefully consider are these:

Language – We are judged by our words. Using profanity or slang rarely postions a company as edgy or cutting edge; it is likely to be viewed as amateurish at best, and more likely unprofessional.

Timing – Choosing your timing well respects your audience. This includes both the hour and day of the week.  Nobody wants to receive a business message on a weekend, with the exception of a light wrap-up of the week.

ContentContent is king, so design it for royalty – your customers. It’s quality reflects your personal and business brand.

Stories – Stories should entertain, educate, and inspire. They should deliver value and never make people feel uncomfortable. Stories about exceptional customer experiences are nearly always be appreciated.

Personal or ImpersonalBeing too personal or too impersonal is not advisable when working with clients and customers, and so it is with your social media. Just be social.

Accuracy – Do your fact checking and avoid racing to report news that you have not verified as accurate.

Be a Responsible Publisher

Have guidelines that you live by. Minimize automation as much as possible, and always bring the wisdom of experience to bear on your social media marketing.

Responsible online publishing is now essential.

Learn to hold your business accountable for its social media, because its extended communities already are doing so.

About the Author:  Jeff Korhan, MBA, helps mainstream small businesses create exceptional customer experiences that accelerate business growth. Get more from Jeff on LinkedInTwitter and Google+.

Jeff is also the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business – Just Released April 2013 (Wiley)

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Facebook Facts and Your Business

Pew Internet recently completed a study of Facebook user behaviors that provides valuable insights that can help you more effectively use Facebook to grow your circle of influence – and business opportunities.

Facebook Friends are Not Real Friends

Men and women especially, and all of us in general, differ on who we consider to be our real friends. Of course, social networking complicates this further.

Most of us would agree that our real friends are a small percentage of our Facebook friends, and the Pew study validates this.

How does Facebook make this determination? From your social graphs – those digital maps that define your online presence based upon your profile information, all of your connections with people, and every bit of online content that you have touched in some way.

When there is perfect integration among all of your friends, you theoretically have 100% connectivity. In other words, in a perfect world everybody knows everyone else. It turns out the average Facebook user has about 12% connectivity among their Facebook friends.

From a practical business standpoint, achieving deeper integration with your Facebook friends is something that will more likely lead to future business opportunities.

Referrals and new opportunities happen as a result of relationships. This is all the more reason why you should be using Facebook smart lists to organize your Facebook friends, so you can build those relationships.

Facebook Power Users Tend to Specialize

It should not surprise anyone that 20% of the Facebook users contribute the majority of the content. What’s interesting is that these power users tend to specialize in certain activities, such as Liking the content of others, tagging others in photos, or sharing fresh content.

For those who want to use Facebook to build expand their circle of friends and influence without having to live on Facebook, the message is clear. Just pick a lane – do something well, and do it consistently.

The fact that the majority of Facebook activity is contributed by the minority of power users tell us that the majority of Facebook users are there as passive observers.

For this majority, Facebook is effectively a source of news or entertainment.

This is an opportunity for businesses that are making the effort to contribute. Share ideas, photos, videos, or whatever is of interest to you – and watch your circle of friends grow.

Even for businesses, the true value of Facebook is building relationships. Business opportunities are by-products of others first knowing more about you.

That’s what predisposes them to even noticing the information you share about your business.

How are you using Facebook? Leave a comment below.

Share this with your community and encourage them to join the conversation.

Until next time, Jeff