social media for small business

Why You Won’t See “Target Audience” or “Drive Traffic” on this Blog

By Communications, Media, Social Media

I am an impassioned believer in the culture of social media. I believe that social strategy works because of the culture and those that sidestep, shortcut or throw money at it to make it work will be sorely disappointed.

What is the culture of social media?

The culture is founded on shared information, transparency (before it became a buzzword), authenticity, real, personal experiences, (yes, Virginia, even in business experiences). The culture eschews the idea of TARGETING prospects and audiences. The beauty of blogging and subscribing to content via RSS feeds changed the way the world consumes information. We were given the power to choose what we take in; what we absorb. The onus was put, at last, on us, to opt in to the information we want and conversely, block that which we don’t.

The Currency of the Digital Age

Instead of TARGETING people (and that is an unfriendly, militaristic concept, isn’t it? Are they targets because we are shooting at them?) we, instead, create content that is genuine and interesting and in doing so attract those who are interested in the topic, the service, the product, etc. We pull in people who want to read, watch or listen to what we have to say. If it’s five or 500,000, it doesn’t matter, as long as the people who arrive feel rewarded, and honor us by paying for what we offer with their attention, the currency of the digital age.

Herding Cattle, Leading Lemmings

Look: I’m a small business person. I am an entrepreneur. I want eyes on my website and know that when those numbers increase, the warm leads I have grow and turn into new business opportunities. But there’s no cattle prod here. There’s no workaround that is consistent with the practice of developing authentic, solid business relationships. Any quick fix  that promises to “drive traffic to your site!” is not consistent with the values of those doing business today. It’s not a long term, big picture view of building a business that values people, their opinions and their dollars.

Decide what kind of business you want to be in, and engage accordingly.

Community Managers: Who Will Do the Social Media Work for Your Small Business?

By Social Media

The number one struggle small businesses have with social media is this:

Who will do the work?

It’s an extremely important question to answer before your efforts online begin in earnest. An estimated 95 percent of all blogs have been abandoned. For those who don’t engage, tweets fritter away over time and for those without a strategy or a plan, Facebook pages go dormant. Companies have grand plans about how they’re going to engage in social media and then … no one truly owns the effort.

One approach that’s been discussed is the creation of a  community manager or a conversation manager or sometimes even simply a social media manager (a quick Google of this found upwards of 14,000 jobs with this title). The point is, some companies have come far enough in the process to acknowledge that if they are going to be successful in their social media efforts, they need to create a position to handle it.

Companies often think, “We want the young, hip intern who ‘gets’ social media to do this for us.” This is like hiring your 16-year-old nephew to build the Web site for your business.



It’s great that the youngest person on your team uses social media on a regular basis, but they’re not the voice and face of your company, unless they ARE your primary audience. If your audience needs to engage with someone who represents your company — truly — who can answer with authority any question or respond to any inquiry without checking with a battery of people first, then THAT’s the person who needs to be your community manager.

Now it’s fine if that community manager is not a subject matter expert on all the different products and services your company provides. In fact, what the community manager needs is the young hip intern and a team of others in the company to research and supply a feed of information: blog posts and articles to read, news to react to, ideas, photos, product information, etc. The manager can then use this flow of creative inspiration to develop the content that engages your community. Give the manager the support they need to represent you, but first choose wisely, knowing that that person may find themselves representing you in a crisis, or on a day when business is not going well at all. The community manager is your company spokesperson. Are you ready to have that person represent you online?

The person who can and should manage your community should have the authority to do so; they should have the respect earned through longevity with the company, and the skill and personality to enjoy engaging with others on the social Web.

Who manages your community now? If you’re not yet engaged in social media, who do you plan to have manage your community?