Reviewing your small business’ social media options

By Mark G. Auerbach

Four years ago, I kicked off the New Year writing a column for Succeeding in Small Business about the basics that small businesses needed to know about social media.

In the short period of time since, the social media landscape has changed. The Facebook and Twitter feeds are a never-ending series of ads, video ads, and video ads with ads embedded in them. There’s an ongoing litany of fake news, tantalizing headlines and photos to make you want to click on a headline for more. It seems like the supermarket tabloids of days gone by have moved from the checkout lanes to your screen. There’s an endless buffet of self-promotion, and requests for money–from Giving Tuesday to the year-end appeals, over and over again.

Incidentally, the overdose of social media requests for money caught the attention of the New York Times.  As social media makes it easier for the donors to make a gift and click, social media gets richer. The reality, by the way, is that by donating to a cause online directly through their website cuts out the middle person, who charges the non-profit for the service of processing the contribution.

I advocate judicious use of social media to my marketing clients, and I spend a lot of time counseling clients about its plusses and minuses, as well as writing and scheduling their posts.

Savvy marketers and publicists use social media as carefully as they use print, radio, and television advertising, regardless of their ad budgets and resources. As you move into the New Year, keep the following in mind.

A social media campaign must have:

-Smart copy, especially if you’re posting about a product or service more than once. If you message is repeatedly the same, people will tire of reading your posts, and they’ll scroll past them. If you have to post multiple times a day, mix up the copy, so your message appears new. Twitter has increased the number of characters permitted in a post, so there’s really no need to abbreviate words, substitute “u” for “you” or murder the language in your rush to make a point.

-Good images. If the photo or series of photos is eye-catching, people stop to look.

-Powerful video. With a well-filmed and edited piece, with quality sound and narration, you have the chance to capture attention. Remember that the average attention span of a viewer will max out in 3 minutes. Short is sweet.

-Remember how people will see your posts. What’s going to stand out if a person’s sitting at a desktop? Laptop? Tablet? Phone? Simple can sometimes stand out better on a smaller machine. And, if you want someone to read something, the font and type size must be legible when small.

-Timing. The experts will vary on this, but the time of your posting may impact the number of eyes that read what you’re putting out there. Research this. Better to post something 1-2 strategic times than incessantly all day long. Most NPR stations learned this as they launched underwriting programs. Their underwriter messages were heard by more listeners when they were announced in an uncluttered environment–2 to 3 messages at a break, as opposed to commercial radio, which ran multiple ads in a program break.

The social media platforms all have analytics. Learn the ones most valuable to your campaign and monitor them. And, remember, social media is a conversation. Don’t preach. Don’t yell. Listen, and respond. If someone says something nice, make sure they know that you saw their compliment. A simple “thank you” does that. If someone has a query, answer it quickly. If someone has negative feedback, acknowledge that you saw it, will rectify the problem if you can, or if you can’t, thank them for sharing their concerns.

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Mark G. Auerbach is principal at Mark G. Auerbach Public Relations, a Springfield, MA, based marketing, public relations, development and events consultancy. You can find more information about Mark at Facebook and LinkedIn.

 

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