Effective social media for small businesses

We are often asked if we can help small businesses with their social media. In the past we’ve said yes but we are starting to say no.

A lot of businesses put themselves under pressure to make social media work for them, to helpĀ drive sales and support a positive brand message. But how can this be done well with an external company managing it?

We don’t believe it can, or at least we recognise that we’re not the right people to do it.

We’ve worked hard with some of our clients over the last few years to add value with social media by taking on the management of their channels and regularly posting topical updates, in a bid to re-enforce their brand and drive traffic to websites. In doing this we’ve come to appreciate how challenging it is for an external entity to really understand the intricacies and personality of a business required to make a social post engaging. Social media posts should also be spontaneous to be most effective and nothing kills spontineity like an approval process or a lack of confidence in what you’re posting.

This makes it really hard for an external or even most internal people to effectively manage social media profiles for small businesses.

Larger businesses may employ a dedicated social media or PR team who are being directed by a clear strategy. All of which is a product of time and money being invested. For smaller businesses it’s often not realistic to think along these lines or compare your modest or less dedicated social activity to theirs.

The key to a good social media strategy starts with it being social. It’s stating the obvious but you’re only ever going to get so much engagement from a post that doesn’t provoke discussion or response. The whole point is for social media to be used as a channel to communicate with your audience, not necessarily just broadcast to it.

With that in mind it’s clear to us that we are not the best people to be managing your social channels. You are. The people right at the heart of the business. It needs to come from you as you hold the key to the business.

So if you’re looking to build your social presence then our advice is to be yourself, be honest, be bold and be confident. Before you employ anyone externally to help you with social media just consider to what extent you will need to direct the context and content of their posts. If it’s going to demand a lot of you then take it on yourself or consider whether it’s really got a practical benefit for the business in the first place.

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