In speaking recently with a group of small business owners, I decided to put my presentation in the form of an article on what makes for a strong social media plan for small, local business. How a small business uses social media is drastically different than a larger company, and while social media experts abound, they are often focused on principles that benefit larger corporations.
For a small business, I focus our clients on three key aspects:
Relevant; Personal; Authentic
What does this mean?
Relevant is a focus on informing your followers of something. Is its newsworthy? Should they care? Will someone reading this feel as if their time was respected?
I ask clients, and even myself, before posting if the person reading a potential post would feel eager to tell another person. Can you picture them saying “Have you heard that….” Followed by the content of the initial post. So news, new menu items, new inventory, participation in a local fundraiser, hosting a special event, all news, all relevant. But funny meme’s, photos without explanation, random shares to your page, are not relevant. You are fighting for the time and attention of your followers and readers; treat that time and attention with respect. Be relevant with posts.
Unlike a large corporation, a small local business is a part of a community, and forms personal connections with customers. Treat your posts as if the business is a person, or even a family. Instead of generic posts, focus on what makes you an integral part of the neighborhood, feature individual employees, and even customers. This would differ significantly from effective posts from, say, Coca-Cola or Ford, where the goal is not to endear your business to the community. Issues that impact the community impact you as well, and vice versa. Be a person, be personal.
This is a major aspect that is missed by countless small business social media accounts. Countless overglossed, staged photos, often of items not even offered in your business, are scheduled by professional social media managers, presenting a generic, and often fake, representation of what you are.
We call this ego marketing. Those selling social media management are looking to boost the ego of the business owner, rather than effectively reach and connect with the local audience. “Look how great your business, food, product, etc. looks when I post!” may deliver an ego burst to the owner, and even get the social media manager hired, but it comes off as fake and just another advertisement to followers.
Social media followers have been trained, over time, to largely ignore ads in their feeds. They instantly notice the glassy pictures, the faded backround, the attempt at commerce. Habitually, they scroll past it.
A major concept in business is that of the key relationship between expectation and experience. It’s a simple equation: you create a customer for life if the experience exceeds the expectation; you lose a customer for life if the experience falls short of expectations.
Expectation < Experience = Long -Term Customer
Expectation > Experience = Lost Customer
Setting inauthentic expectations with posts that overly glorify what you are only sets you up for disappointed customers. Be honest be authentic. No one expects filet mignon at a deli. The glassy picture of a massage room that doesn’t actually exist may get someone to come in once, but they won’t come back again. That steaming hot cup of coffee in a large ceramic mug looks great, and feeds your ego, but if you only use paper cups, its not helping you exceed expectation, its only helping you fall short.
Be who you are. Your social media strategy should be authentic, helping you set expectation that you can meet and exceed, instead of falling short of a mythical photo on your social media feed.
Relevant, Personal, Authentic. A winning social media strategy for small, local business.
Want to talk more? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.