Does my business actually have to engage on social media or can we just set it and forget it?

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Does my business actually have to engage on social media or can we just set it and forget it?

Do businesses have to engage on social media?

This week on Casual Coffee & Social Media Questions, we tackled this question:

“Kat: do we have to engage on social media?”

If you’ve ever wondered whether you can set up social sites for your company and then just leave them, you’re not alone. This is a question that comes up more often than not (to be completely honest.)

Here’s the thing: the purpose of social media is to be social. It’s a form of two-way conversation that has never been available to companies & businesses before (up until now it’s been one-way broadcast via advertising, traditional marketing etc.) For companies, it’s a chance to engage and learn from clients, customers and the online community. It’s an opportunity to learn valuable insights, for example: the painpoints your clients may be having with your product or service. Being active on social means you have your finger on the pulse for things that are important to ‘your people’.

Tips for businesses using Social Media:

  • Know the goal for each site. Each social media site is intended for a different type of audience. YouTube is for those who are interested in video, Instagram = photography, LinkedIn = professional content, Reddit = complaining (just kidding, mostly) Twitter = fast news & info. Consider each site, the type of content required and decide how you can use it to support your overall business objectives.
  • Always try to add value. There is a ton of content out there from long form to soundbites and infographics to video. The measure I use in my own social media program is to always try to add value to my people, which typically means either educate or entertain. I want people to come back (of course) but I’ve got to give a compelling reason to do so. If they can get the same information or entertainment somewhere else (in one spot) what really sets me apart?
  • Respond within a reasonable amount of time. I’ve audited quite a few business pages throughout my career; I’m always somewhat shocked at the amount of time that can lapse between comment and a company response (e.g.: YEARS!) Therefore, it’s important to respond on your content when fans or foes comment. In this case, push notifications can be your best friend – I realize they can also be a pain in the a** but so can a vocal online critic when you ignore them!
  • Social over selling. Do you know what doesn’t work? Randomly messaging someone via a social site to tell them about your product without first letting them get to know you. Recently on LinkedIn, I had someone message me for ‘help’ but really, it was a way to add me to their list. When I gave my personal email (still under the impression that they needed my help) they  asked if I’d buy a membership to their private group. Needless to say, I did not join. Ask yourself: do you want to be sold to without asking?
  • Use tools where you can, to make life easier. Using scheduling software like Hootsuite or Buffer is totally fine to schedule key content ahead of time (I use a mix of native scheduling and tools) but you’ve also got to check in from time-to-time. If you’re finding it difficult to remember, set a reminder in your phone. The average business probably only needs five minutes or less a day (but depends on how busy your online community is!)
  • Don’t try to be something you’re not. The temptation to imitate the way other successful companies engage online may be great, but the reality is that it’s much better to set your own course based on your own company culture and values. And as I always recommend, you must be the same offline as you are online and vice versa!
Kat Macaulay, BA ADdPR BnC
Kat Macaulay, BA ADdPR BnC
Kat Macaulay is a Marketing Strategist, Writer + Speaker known for her no-nonsense approach to pretty much everything. Using data insights, she helps organizations market more effectively to get results that matter. She's also a high-scoring instructor at Mount Royal University, where she teaches Social Media Analytics and Google Analytics + Marketing Measurement. She holds certifications from Google, as well as Facebook and is currently working toward a specialization in Marketing Analytics and a certificate in Data Science from IBM. When she’s not busy juggling kids, volunteering + work, she’s busy planning her retirement to Cape Breton.