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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LinkedIn Pages Like Facebook and Twitter

LinkedIn is making some smart moves to personalize LinkedIn Company Pages, effectively creating a look and feel that is much like that of a Facebook page, while also respecting the professional culture of LinkedIn.

Personal is the New Professional

People do business with people first, and then with the companies that stand behind them. The new LinkedIn Company Pages bring the comments of their employees front and center. This gives outsiders opportunities to size up the company culture, while also learning who may be more likely to engage, among other things.

On Facebook you Like or subscribe to a Facebook business page, whereas on LinkedIn you follow a Company Page. The difference between Liking and following seems to reflect the nature of the respective networks; one is casual and the other professional.

On Facebook people like pages, with the leaders predominantly being consumer brands. Curious about business opportunities with a particular company?  Follow their LinkedIn Company Page. There’s nothing creepy or unprofessional about it. It’s no different than tracking a stock you may wish to invest in.

Notifications Encourage Engagement

In addition to literally taking a page from the Facebook playbook, LinkedIn is also adopting a highly useful Twitter feature – notifications.

While interruptive, there is no question that notifications encourage engagement.

My personal experience is many of the 3rd party services that promise to help you stay in touch with your online communities will fail you from time to time. The reason is likely that they are not quite on the inside and therefore subject to unforeseen changes.

Whereas, a notification directly from Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter is more likely to be reliable, and should therefore prove to be a welcome feature.

Here’s a preview of the new LinkedIn Company Page.

What do you think? Are you ready to create your LinkedIn Company Page?

I’m not ready to say game-changer yet, but the thought has crossed my mind. Stay tuned.

You can get a few more details here and here.

And this comprehensive article on  10 LinkedIn Tips for Growing Your Business will help you to get more from Linkedin in general. It includes a couple of video tutorials that will show you a new trick or two.

Do you think LinkedIn can give Facebook and Twitter a run for leadership in business marketing?

Leave a comment below and share this with your community.

Until next time, Jeff

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Optimize Facebook by Thinking Like Facebook

Facebook is a world distinct from the rest of the social media universe for one reason – Facebook controls Facebook. For the most part what happens in Facebook stays within Facebook, and that’s just the way they want it. Social Context and Smart Lists The interrelationships and contextual information shared on Facebook builds social context […]

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