If you are operating a small business, then being social media savvy is a best practice. I don’t mean to imply that you be an expert. I just mean you need enough savvy to know better when someone is nickel and diming you. Every nickel and dime in a small business operation adds up. Being active on social media particularly for a consumer facing business is mandatory. Knowing how much (or how little) effort certain tasks take can save you headache and heartbreak.
I’ve spent a good amount of time over the last year speaking with small to medium-sized business owners and operations folks. Their knowledge of social media has ranged from very good to non-existent. Fortunately for some of the less experienced individuals, they did show a curiosity when given a chance. Unfortunately for other individuals, their lack of curiosity may cost them dearly. Why? For some of the same reasons that professional athletes end up broke and declaring bankruptcy. “I have someone that is supposed to take care of that for me” Is the answer I heard most. I want to lay down some thoughts on how to get savvy and simple things to think about when running a business.
Here are some resource ideas to help you get savvy:
- SCORE: This is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping small businesses be more successful. Most services, training, or consulting time is done by volunteers with experience in each focus area. For example, you have an accounting question then you are connected with an accounting professional volunteering with SCORE. Additionally, SCORE is a terrific place to get training from companies that want to train you how to make the most of their products. Want to learn more about Constant Contact? Find out if they are conducting a session at your local SCORE facility.
- YouTube: You would be amazed at the amount of training on YouTube. I recently had a friend repair his washing machine using a YouTube video. You want to learn how to start with WordPress, how to improve using WordPress Plug-Ins, or how to create a Group on Facebook? You can find it on YouTube. Why do I like it? Let’s start with FREE. But is it also something a hard-working adult can do anytime, on any schedule, and at their own pace. And if one video doesn’t explain it to your liking just find another. One note of caution however, not every video is up to date or correct. It is the internet and you can’t believe everything.
- Community College: If you need a more structured classroom experience try your local community college. Classes are often held evenings and weekends and are geared towards working adults.
- Product Company Websites: Most product companies want to ensure you can get up and running quickly. They often provide video demonstrations and on-line training. I believe if it is available you should take any available tutorial before you invest in any product. And again, don’t believe all the hype, they want to sell you their product. They will only present it in the best light.
Simple social savvy things to think about when running a business
- Where is your data? Businesses have websites, accounting systems, customer relationship management systems, etc. All of these systems collect data. This includes business account numbers, customer account numbers, customer addresses, credit card numbers, employee information and more. When I hear someone tell me they have ‘some guy’ with a company in a foreign country running their IT functions, my next questions are: where is your server and where is your data? “I don’t know” is not a good answer when a business and its customers are impacted by stolen data, credit card information, or employee information. The business and its owner is still responsible for providing security and not having asked the simplest of questions can put you out of business.
- How long does a simple website update take to accomplish? I recently spoke with a savvy young business owner that designed her own website using templates (sites like WordPress, Wix or Shopify all help with user friendly templates). When she goes to run a Valentine’s discount on spa treatments, she knows that it takes her maybe 5 minutes. When her business grows and she turns over this responsibility, she knows it should take her employee about 5 minutes. But when I speak with other business owners that have stayed uninterested in technology, I hear things like…”it takes a month”, “it costs me $$ per hour”, or “I don’t know”. Again, I’m not talking about a website re-design. But if you wanted to change the words on a monthly special or correct a typo then it shouldn’t take a month and a couple hundred dollars for a consultant to accomplish
- If you are spending dollars on Google, Facebook, Twitter, or other social media campaigns how do you know if they are effective? Certainly, one indicator is whether your business is increasing. But did you know that such tools have analytics available? If your social media person or your consultant isn’t showing you any analysis to demonstrate effectiveness or at least show improvements, then they should be. Otherwise, how do you know whether Facebook is working better than Twitter or Google is working better than Facebook? Bottom line: How do you know where to focus your spending if you don’t have any data to help you?
- Are you expending effort on growing your social media followers? How much time and effort does that take? If you don’t know how much time it takes or what tools are being used, then maybe it isn’t very efficient. I recently showed a business owner a tool to create a post, schedule that post, and post it on all their social media accounts at the same time. It took about 20 minutes to show them. And it cut the time they were wasting on posting to 5 separate accounts. They were so grateful I thought they might cry. Are you spending this time needlessly? Is your team spending this time needlessly? If you can learn just a little about some of the technology and social media aspects of running a business, you can save yourself time and money.
My point here is simple: Technology isn’t going away. Be a savvy business owner and learn enough to ask the right questions. Use the free or inexpensive resources available to you to gain the edge over those than might try to take advantage or nickel and dime you. Be savvy to be successful!
Written By Lisa Foy, Founder, The Curious Coyote