In the seven years since I’ve been helping small businesses and freelancers to become social media savvy and use social media for marketing their businesses, I’ve met two camps of people. 

Camp one are social media enthusiasts – social people who have little trouble keeping up with a wide circle of friends, associates, colleagues, clients, prospects and random others. Camp two are social media skeptics – who worry about the impact of social media on their current client base, are oftentimes overly sensitive to the comments of others, the messages they put on social media, and the wider societal impact of social media on etiquette, intimacy and modesty.

Neither the social media enthusiasts nor the social media skeptics are ideal at social media marketing for business. It’s those with social media savvy who know how to work it.

All-consuming

Social media enthusiasts tend to be highly skilled at building up big communities. Their social media numbers can be eye-wateringly large. They put in an immense amount of time and effort into crafting perfect posts – paying attention to detail in photographs or investing in professional photography, laboring over the wording of updates or being profuse and relentless at documenting their every day.

But a massive online community doesn’t necessarily translate into money in the bank. I’ve met countless people with massive followings on Instagram and Facebook who make very little money. Sometimes people who are community-minded struggle to ask their community to buy.

Because the dopamine of peer reinforcement through social media can be highly addictive, social media enthusiasts can oftentimes be chained to their device. When you’re a heavy user of social media, it’s easy to compare yourself with others and fall short. Quality of focus, concentration and sleep can also be impaired.

Social media skeptic

The social media skeptic’s marketing strategy is to bury their head in the sand, hoping that social media is a passing fad. Nevermind the fact that the public, after being empowered to give feedback to businesses, solicit their peers for valuable information quickly and easily, and express their opinion, are unlikely to want to turn back time.

The social media skeptic talks a lot about the “dumbing down” of our society while overlooking the fact that social media is just a channel for people to express themselves.

Going savvy: useful, valuable, relevant

So how do you become social media savvy?

The three pillars of content marketing, of which social media marketing is an arm, are to create and curate content for your audience which is useful, valuable and relevant. This won’t be useful, valuable and relevant to everyone – only to the specific group of people you’ve identified as your ideal client. In fact, done well, your marketing should repel as well as it attracts. People will segment themselves – deciding whether your marketing is relevant to them or not. Remember, ineffective marketing is invisible.

Be prepared

Imagine your worst case scenario in your business. No matter if you’re a tiny micro-business of uno, write down a worst case scenario and how you’d handle it. This includes customer complaints, political comment, staff grievances and product malfunctions. Your social media policy needs to be regularly reviewed and updated but concise enough to be easily read and understood by relevant parties, including external digital agencies.

Too many businesses outsource their social media to agencies who outsource it to 20 year-old interns and then wonder how a customer complaint snowballed into a public relations disaster. If you don’t want to be ridiculed on Mumbrella, take some time to clarify your policy and views on paper.

Don’t take social media so personally. We can’t all be each other’s cup of tea. For the love of all things holy, don’t follow people on social media who make you angry or upset. Yes, even if you know them in real life. Block, mute or delete. Life’s short. Move on.

Manage yourself

Social media savvy cats recognise that it’s a huge time sink. Savvy cats realise that they need to be strict with their time on social media, which means scheduling, cross-posting where relevant, answering and responding to people at set times of the day, and turning off all but the most important notifications (like those lovely ones from PayPal that pings when somebody pays you).

Finally, being social media savvy recognizes the very real human dimension – people want to interact online with another person, not a faceless, marketing-spewing autobot. When representing your business on social media, we’re attempt to skillfully balance between professionalism, authority, expertise with warmth, humour, quirkiness and idiosyncrasies. It’s not always an easy balance to strike. But it can be most rewarding.

Quick tips to social media savvy:

  • Be regular: you need to post several times a day every day if you’re to be effective.
  • Limit your time: use social media scheduling and tools such as ‘click to tweet’ and social media share buttons.
  • Think visual: social media is increasingly visual so think about how you can best use images to convey your message.
  • Prepare in batches: write, design, find and compile your social media assets ahead of time, in batches.
  • Be prepared: approach social media as you would public relations and be prepared for crises.
  • Set restrictions: engage tools such as ‘SelfControl’ app to limit your access if you find yourself losing time scrolling through social media.
  • Be yourself: you can’t stand out by doing what everyone else is doing. Embrace your quirks, views, passions and interests and share what you’re like, not what you’d like to be like.
  • Share first: give more than you take, share others’ information and promotions, offer your opinion freely and be generous.
  • Remember the three pillars: be useful, valuable and relevant to your ideal clients only.

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Learn how to be social media savvy at upcoming Social Media Savvy courses around Australia. Limited spots – register now

Business planning

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