Social Skills: The Top Six Things Business Owners Should Know About Social MediaNov 10, 2021 09:31AM ● By Lindsey Breitwieser
Twenty years ago, the idea of an online entity that would feed us information on a constant, 24/7 stream, provide connection across the world in the click of a button and allow access to customers anywhere on earth would have seemed like the future-forward machinations of “Star Trek” back in the ‘60s. But here in 2021, those types of platforms are many, and the world of social media has become a part of everyday life for people across the globe.
According to a study published by DataReportal in July 2021, the average user accesses more than six social media platforms every month and spends around 2½ hours on social media every day. But even as customers, CEOs and businesses converge in the same online spaces, there are several things that you, as business owners, don’t necessarily know, and ignorance of them is definitely affecting your bottom line.
1. Social media doesn’t have office hours.
While the 9-to-5 job still exists, the reality is that on social media, there are no such things as office hours. While real-life interactions with your customers may have fallen within a certain radius and timeframe in the past, your next customer could be looking at your product at midnight, from London.
Because of this major shift in operational opportunity, it’s important that business owners remain flexible and smart — if you can’t offer 24/7 customer care online (usually in the form of some sort of chat or messaging structure), then make sure you are clear to customers about when you’ll be able to see and respond to each request, even when those times do fall within your real-life office hours.
2. Without a sound strategy and goals in place, it’s difficult to see any results.
Throwing things online when you think about it isn’t a strategy, and it’s quite possible that it’s hurting your business more than helping it. If you want to create meaningful interactions with your customers and peers, you must provide content that is of value to them — consistently. Developing a sound social media strategy with measurable goals can not only help you define what it is you want to achieve, but actually achieve it, too.
3. It’s not just an advertising or sales tool.
It’s easy for business owners to see social media as a great advertising tool (and it is!), but the actual reason that followers flock to social media isn’t to be lured into great offers. In fact, according to the DataReportal study, nearly half of social media purveyors use social media channels to stay in touch with friends and family, followed by the secondary and tertiary reasons of filling up spare time (36 percent), and getting the news (35 percent). That doesn’t mean that you can’t use these platforms to put your message out; just that you should keep in mind that people aren’t coming online to see your ads. Besides, online ads work best when they are more entertaining than pushy, and users can easily spot which is which.
4. The platforms change constantly, and you need to use them correctly.
If you’re a sporadic social user, chances are that you’ve gone online before and felt lost — with different feeds and layouts than you were used to. This is because social media platforms change continually, updating and changing layouts or button options as they become more requested or available. When you see these new options, explore! Don’t get stuck posting the way you always have; use the new tools to boost what you’re already doing and get some new energy behind it.
Also, what you don’t see is even more important, and that is the algorithm — how platforms decide what you see, and when, and what will be in your feed next. Because this, too, is ever changing, it’s important to stay on top of the changes so that you don’t experience significant dips in followers or engagement.
5. Not every platform is right for every brand.
Just because it seems like everyone is using a specific platform doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right move for your organization. Much depends on who your desired audience is and where they are on social media. For example, if your target audience is 55+, Snapchat and TikTok may not have the return on investment (your investment being time and resources) that you’re hoping for, as both those platforms are primarily used by 30-year-olds and younger. Conversely, if your ideal customer is a woman, there is a good chance she’s finding ideas on Pinterest, and you should consider make an appearance there.
Also for consideration: Do your resources for social media match what each channel will require? It’s easy to throw 280 characters onto Twitter; it’s a lot harder to find a spokesperson or “face” of the company that can produce quality clips for TikTok continuously. Before you decide to jump into each and every platform that comes along, do some research to find out what makes good engagement stand out, and then decide if you can commit to that.
6. Quantity and quality matter, but relevance is key.
Online activity by businesses runs the whole gamut: There are those who think you need to post five times a day and others who will post only when something big is going on. The best practices are somewhere in between, according to Hootsuite, which claims you should probably post to social about once a day, with no more than two posts per day. But the biggest thing to remember as you draft your next social media calendar is that quality is far more important than the quantity of posts, and relevance beats them both.
To put it simply: It’s better to post less, but have your content be something that really matters to your followers, than to overwhelm them with tons of content that they find insignificant or unremarkable. Keep in mind that engagement — how much your followers see, like, share or generally interact with your content — is far higher on platform algorithms than how many times you post, and if you provide your followers with stuff they can use, they are much more likely to spread the word on your behalf.
If your business is new to social or trying to increase your effectiveness, the good news is that plenty of information — and social media experts — exist to help you out. Whatever you do, don’t sleep on your online presence because you may be missing out on more business than you know.
Lindsey Breitwieser serves as the social media strategist at flourish, an award-winning public relations, marketing, and events firm in Greenville, S.C. She excels in social media strategic development and execution. Her deep understanding of social user behavior, platform capabilities and brand management help companies navigate and maximize the social landscape.