"I Know This May Sound Stupid But..."
If I had a pound every time a business owner started a sentence by apologising, I'd be well...better off than I am now, that's for sure.
Social media and marketing is a minefield of constantly changing information, algorithms and tactics and it is so easy to get lost in the mire. When chatting to freelancers, self-employed folk and small businesses, often their opening gambit when beginning to ask something is a tentative - "This is probably a very silly question..." or "This may sound daft but..." 9 times out of 10, it most certainly isn't, although there have been 1 or 2 strange enquiries - but more about them some other time.
Having chatted to hundreds of businesses of all sizes over the past 5 and a bit years, here are some of the most common questions I get asked that most certainly aren't daft, stupid or remotely silly.
"I'm worried I may say the wrong thing on Facebook"
This is such a common occurrence. Ever since Zuckerberg unleashed the beast that is Facebook upon us, everyone from senior NHS leaders to sales executives, financial advisers to florists have all expressed concern that they will make a fool of themselves, say the wrong thing or spell something incorrectly. With the latter, you can always edit a post on Facebook or even delete it. With the others, I always advise that people think before they hit the post button. If it is likely to cause offence or upset people then don't post it, however the main thing to consider is always my 'go to' thought. Is this the way you would speak face to face with somebody? If you were in a room full of people, how would you present yourself and what would you say? All you need to do is then replicate that on the screen. Keep bearing this in mind and you are unlikely to make yourself seem foolish. The other key factor here is that, as of the end of 2020, the approximate reach of a business post on Facebook was 5.2% of your followers meaning that, it is highly unlikely that your poor grammar or putting an apostrophe in the wrong place, will get seen anyway.
"Should I wait until I set up my website before I start my social media feeds?"
It is common place that when someone is in the process of setting up a business, there is an overriding feeling that all ducks need to be in a row before their new enterprise gets 'launched'. There is a simple answer to this one - no. If you are determined that this is what you want to do and that the business is going to happen, do something NOW! Whether that is setting up a Facebook page before the website gets built or your logo is designed. You can start to build interest straight away by telling people that you are still undecided on what colour your logo should be and get people involved, post pictures on Instagram of your fitting out your new workshop or studio, start posting relevant and regular news on your Twitter or LinkedIn feed, interspersed with you telling people how excited you are about finally setting up on your own.
Nothing will ever be EXACTLY how you want it to be and therefore 'launch' will keep getting pushed further and further back and the only way to get anything like perfection is to try things in the first place. While you are having your website built, get as much information as you can on a platform (a Facebook business page can operate as a website for a while) and it will also give you extra impetus. If you proudly declare that your new leaflets will be ready by the of the month, it will give you a deadline.
"Do I need to be on every platform on social media?"
No again. Simple as that. I actively encourage people not to be on all the platforms. First of all, how much time do you have to sit in front of a screen? Surely you would prefer to be cutting hair, making jewellery or counselling people instead of posting on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat et al!
We can talk about audiences and who is using the platforms all day long but so much of it also comes down to the business owner themselves. If you absolutely hate Twitter then don't use it. Posts will become forced and will lack authenticity. Get a couple of platforms running well with good, engaging, varied content and maybe look at the others at some point in the future. You may decide you want to try and sell your products via a bigger company or distributor so LinkedIn may be an option at a later date but if right now you are working markets and selling product from home, chances are, it really isn't necessary to have a presence there.
The main thing with all of this for me is - what feels right to you? If you don't feel comfortable posting certain things or portraying yourself in a certain way, then don't do it. If you really don't get on with a platform, don't use it. Take social media out of the equation for a minute. If it didn't exist, would you feel happier handing out leaflets on the High Street or cold calling people? Does it suit you to go to networking events or are you much more relaxed running a pop up stall or exhibition. If one of those resonates with your more than the others than explore it more and then (bringing social media back into the equation), use the online stuff to support what you are doing elsewhere. Marketing isn't rocket science. It is purely - what have I got to sell and how am I going to get it out there? It really is that straightforward. The only thing you have to decide is, what form of 'getting it out there' suits you best.
With marketing and particularly social media, we tend to overthink things and the platforms change some function or other on a daily basis. Bottom line is, we can't do it all when we are setting up or running a small business but more importantly, when you may be mulling something over and think it may seem 'silly', chances are the same question will have been mooted many many times before -so you are not alone!
If you are interested in a 1-2-1 to discuss your marketing and social media, then drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org