One of the most difficult things for small businesses getting started in Social Media is just that – getting started! There is a huge amount of information available on why small businesses should be starting, how important Social Media is, how many more millions have joined Google+ in the last week and so on.
Very few of those telling small business to get started realise that for most small business owners, time is their most precious commodity. Many owners are trying to keep so many balls in the air, even taking time to think about Social Media is difficult, let alone doing anything about it.
In the last post, I suggested that there were three possibilities for a small business to get a Social Media campaign started:
- A limited campaign done entirely in-house.
- All initial set up and regular updating done externally.
- A combination of both the above.
How would those options work for a small business? Before we explore each one in more detail, we need to remember that for any Social Media activity to be successful it must have 100% support from the business owner. It will also require some input from him or her and, or senior staff members on a continuing basis. Unless there is a strong commitment to allocate the necessary time, none of the 3 options will be successful.
1) An In-house Campaign
This would require that the owner, an employee or possibly a family member set up the accounts for the Social Media sites that have been chosen. Great care needs to be taken in selecting user names and profile photographs, and writing a profile for each site.
To establish a brand identity, decisions on whether to use a photograph of the owner, of a product or the business logo need to be taken. Then the choice should be used consistently on all Social Media sites.
Opening the accounts and selecting the most appropriate user options are relatively simple, but can take time to set up. At least an hour of uninterrupted time for each account should be scheduled before starting.
2) All initial set up and regular updating done externally.
In this option, the initial opening of the accounts and setting up would be done by an external consultant or freelance Social Media person. This would save the business owner the time and frustration of doing the task, but it would still need input and final approval by him or her.
The outside person would prepare updates, and, or videos and photographs for publishing on the Social media sites that had been selected. This person might also create content for the business blog if one had been started.
Interaction with customers could be handled by this person, depending on the complexities of the business – customer relationship, product or service type or practices for the industry.
The degree of autonomy granted to the external person would vary with every business and would need to be specified at the start of the relationship.
It is important to remember that the although the business owner can delegate the time-consuming parts of the Social Media activity, he or she cannot abdicate his or her responsibility for the effects. If there is a disaster, the business will pay the price of lost sales, a poor image, customer dissatisfaction or possibly legal action. No one will be interested in the consultant.
So no matter how the arrangement is structured, the owner must remain involved and provide regular input.
3) A combination of 1 & 2
Perhaps the best solution for a small business owner with limited time and resources.
This option has the advantage of relieving the owner from the task of setting up the accounts and from finding time to frequently update content.
The exact division of tasks will vary from business to business but after the initial set up, it could work with a weekly meeting between the owner and the consultant to agree the general content for the week and then the consultant would prepare updates, tweets and blog posts in line within the agreed framework.
The owner may decide to approve everything before publication, or only blog posts, longer updates or nothing. All determined by the owner – consultant relationship and the consultant’s skills and understanding of the business.
The same as in 2 above, the owner is ultimately responsible for the success or failure of Social Media activities and for dealing with the outcome, good or bad. It is absolutely essential that the owner stays involved, aware of what is being published and aware of what customers are saying, no matter how good the consultant may be.
There is an explanation of how three different solutions could work for small business owners experiencing time and resource constraints.
So don’t let confusion stop you from taking the next step.