All too often, business owners view social media as an added expense they somehow need to squeeze into their existing marketing and advertising budgets. That thinking also feeds into questions & beliefs like, “Does my business really need social media?” and “I use Facebook myself, so I know how to manage a Page” and “My niece is young. I bet she can post to Instagram for us.”
We offer training and written strategy services in addition to all our management services because we like to be as hands on or off as our clients need us to be. We know that some clients need or want to keep their social media work in-house but have no idea where to begin with things or if what they are currently doing is working as they hoped. We also assist clients in cleaning up their presences and developing a proper social media plan that’s both realistic and beneficial for their business goals.
Inevitably, we speak with clients and prospective clients who tell us they’ve been trying their hand at managing a social media presence for their business while admitting that they really don’t know much about social media or its best practices. Basically, they are honest about letting us know that they have no clue how much they don’t really know.
The Cost of Social Media When You Don’t Know What You Are Doing
A client we began working with a few months ago is a perfect example of this scenario. They are on a shoestring budget with their growing but young business. They hired me to provide guidance (consulting) on a monthly basis as they and their existing contractors attempt to piece together an effective social media presence. They admit that their budgets are limited, and the contractors they do use are college kids who hope to work in their industry (but who have no social media training, marketing experience, or business experience).
The wonderful thing about working with them is that they are very open to getting things right, cleaning things up with their social media presence, and learning as they go. The hard part for me is observing them make realization after realization that not only have they not been maximizing their social media efforts, but they’ve actually been harming their brand (and potentially facing lawsuits) while trying to keep costs low and piece things together on their own without any professional training or guidance.
Here are a few examples we’re currently working to clean up:
- To begin with, they have been only putting any active effort into 1 platform, and have that platform (Instagram) autopost to Facebook, which then autoposts to Twitter. There is no other native activity taking place on Facebook or Twitter. That means their Facebook Page is nothing but Instagram reposts, and their Twitter account is nothing but Facebook links.
- They haven’t been monitoring Facebook or Twitter, so they were unaware that there was an issue with the Instagram autoshare correctly pulling over the caption that goes with the photos. That means there has been no text above the images on Facebook, and there is no text accompanying the tweets on Twitter.
- All of the content posted to Instagram has been images taken off the internet. First of all, this is illegal and constitutes copyright infringement. Second, while content curation (when done legally) is an important part of your social media content strategy, it should only be part of your content mix. You need to have some original content or information about your company being posted to your business’ social media accounts.
- There was no effort being made to research hashtags before use on Instagram. There was no effort being made to engage with those who liked and commented on their Instagram posts, or to search hashtags relevant to the business and interact with those Instagram users. These things were not being done simply because they didn’t know they were supposed to be done.
- Their Pinterest account has been dormant for a couple years now, but had a couple years of pins made to the account before that. Unfortunately, one of the missteps on Pinterest was also tied to copyright infringement because images had been taken off the internet and pinned to Pinterest with no accompanying links to original sources.
To sum up, the only thing that was happening with regard to their social media activity (for a long time) was that they were posting images taken from Google to their Instagram account, and having those Instagram posts auto-posted to their Facebook and Twitter accounts. There was no other content being posted, and no engagement techniques being used.
Once you assess the things that need to be improved, the next step is to get to work improving them.
Recommendations I’ve made to improve their social media situation:
- Remove all the images taken from Google and posted to their Instagram and Pinterest accounts. This isn’t a difficult thing to do but it is time consuming.
- Start using a repost app to reshare other accounts’ Instagram images while giving proper credit to the original poster.
- Add original activity and posts to Facebook and Twitter to help balance out the autoposts and to share some useful, relevant content that represents their company (and not just others’ photos).
- Spend time researching hashtags before use. Spend time interacting with those who engage with you, and those who you follow.
It’s important to keep in mind that your social media profiles represent your brand. They may be the first thing a potential customer finds when looking up companies like yours. When doing business online, you have no control over how a customer will first come in contact with you. For the past couple years, people finding this client’s social media profiles would see a dormant Pinterest account, a Twitter account with a tweet stream of nothing but Facebook links, a Facebook Page of nothing but Instagram autoshares, and an Instagram profile of nothing but photos taken by other people.
The costs of a service can’t be measured solely by the price of that service, but rather, what it costs your business to not have full knowledge and training on how to perform that service well enough on your own.