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The Year of Being Social

‘Social distancing’ –the first term used to describe the necessary space between us to curb COVID-19 transmission. We’ve been locked down and physically distanced for a long time so proposing we become more social won’t be a problem, right? But that’s not the kind of ‘social’ I’m challenging you with.
It is social media; something that has been both a pain and a blessing in 2020. How could we have made it through not just one but two periods of isolation without cat videos and seeing our memories of gatherings past? Though, we could have done without the conspiracy theories and trolls that seem to pop up everywhere.

As we look to 2021, may it be with hope and optimism, to forge ahead with courage and drive to do new things. Riding that wave of positivity, let’s make 2021 the year you embrace and make social media work for you.
I often see businesses setting up a social media account only to become too busy or too frustrated to use it. Let me suggest a different approach.
What if you treat a social media platform like an employee you’ve hired? Consider how you prepare for a new employee and how you can translate those ideas to get social media feeds working for you. If you can bravely implement just one of the suggestions below, you’ll be moving forward and that’s a wonderful way to start the year.

  1. Understand the work you need done
    • In a small business, the entrepreneur usually does everything. When you hire your first employee, you’re bringing in someone with specific skills that you don’t have. The same is true for a social media platform. Define the role of the platform – do you need it to take over some existing work or to bring you something you don’t have? Successful companies use their social presence to reach new customers, to create a community of customers or to build their brand. Be very specific about what you need and you’ll find a platform that can help.
    • If you’re already using a platform personally, seek out businesses like yours (same business in different geography) and see what they are doing.
    • Ask customers, friends and family for examples of businesses using social media well. There are many examples of small, local businesses crushing it on social media – ask them why and how they use social.
  2. Make the work meaningful and strategic
    • Employees are motivated when they know how they’re contributing to your business’s success. If you hire someone to process and fill orders, both you and the employee can clearly see when the work is being done and when it’s not. And if not, then maybe you have the wrong person. It’s not as clear with a social platform because we often don’t understand the specific purpose of the social feed. Don’t start up a profile without a plan of how that platform fits your business.
    • Consider your business challenges and how a social platform could contribute to meeting those challenges. Be specific.
    • Write a ‘job description’ for the social platform to see if the platform is performing its duties or not. Again, be specific.
  3. Understand how to measure performance
    • It’s easy to measure if orders aren’t being processed when you’ve processed orders before. It is not easy to understand ‘engagements’ and ‘click-throughs’ if you don’t know how social works. Be brave – it’s 2021 – and learn all you can about the platform and what people do there. Understand what you can measure and how that applies to the job description you’ve created for the social platform.
    • Tons of videos and articles are online explaining how to measure social media. There may even be resources for your specific business! Understanding some of the jargon can give you the confidence to ask questions of a professional.
    • Start keeping track of your metrics on social media. To make good decisions, you need a trend line, not just one data point. Once a month spend 30 minutes poking around the numbers and looking for changes to give you an idea of where you’ve been and where you want to go.
  4. Evaluate & course correct
    • You can’t afford the dead weight of an under-performing employee dragging your business down so why would you put effort into a social platform that isn’t making your business better? When something isn’t working, stop doing it! The challenge with social media is knowing whether or not it’s working.
    • Go beyond the social platform and see how the activity there connects to the rest of your business. Do people sign up for your newsletter on social media but you don’t actually send out a regular newsletter? Do you get a question but no one has the time to answer it? How do you treat your followers differently than everyone else in your world?
    • There are no prizes for the business that can be on the most social platforms. Having one platform working for you is a much more productive strategy than dabbling in many and not seeing success anywhere.
    • After 2020, we’re all a little beaten down but a new year offers new opportunities. Prepare for the great things ahead by ensuring your lean, productive organization is doing a few important things well. As we look forward to living more socially again – make sure your business is ready, too.
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