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The more you know about your customers, the easier social media becomes.
JEN MCFARLAND - founder
If you’ve ever been added to a Facebook group without consent or gotten a sales email right away after adding someone on LinkedIn, did you read it?
Did you join and engage with the group? Or leave the group? Did you read the sales message and schedule the appointment? Or did you delete it because you felt a little invaded? My guess is it’s the latter.
Get to know people. That's what social media is all about. And that’s what engagement is. Engagement is building community and talking to people. It's much more than going after the sale.
Lately I’ve been hit in the face with a lot of bad business tactics on social media.
In this episode, I came at it from not only the perspective of a professional asked a lot of social media questions but also as a consumer of social media. Learn about what it means to get out there and be the face of an organization, strategies and tactics, and the do’s and don’t’s of engagement.
- Social Bee (social media scheduler)
- Yellow Dog Consulting
- Pew Research Center, Social Media Use in 2018
- Pew Research Center, Social Media Fact Sheet
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Hello and welcome to the Third Paddle podcast. I’m your host, Jen McFarland. On this episode, I’m going to do a roundtable series of segments around social media. Some of the dos and don’ts that I use to help my clients that I thought might be useful to you. All that and more here on the Third Paddle.
Welcome to the Third Paddle podcast, recorded at the Vandal Lounge in beautiful southeast Portland, Oregon. Why the Third Paddle? Because even the most badass entrepreneurs get stuck up in business shit creek. Management consultant Jennifer McFarland is your third paddle, helping you get unstuck.
Hi, welcome back. I’m not a social media manager. In fact, I don’t spend a lot of my time helping my clients with social media, except when it comes up in terms of technology. However, I am a frequent user of social media, and I love to post and find out the best tools that I can use to extend my network and get the word out about what’s going on. Things like this show, the Third Paddle podcast. So social media does come up a lot when I’m working with people. And one of the misconceptions around social media is that as soon as you begin to post, you’ll be flooded with clients and you’ll have way too much to do. And certainly that may happen, if you strike gold and have viral content. However, more often than not, you’re really just getting the word out and it’s a slow burn and a slow build to eventually help you get clients. So one of the excuses that I often hear about not posting, not setting up a social network is that they don’t want to be seen or heard or get too far out front on that and then get flooded with clients. And what I’m going to tell you is, unfortunately, it’s not typically something that you cash in and get a lot of clients immediately. It can be, if you employ the right strategy. And typically for that, you’re going to want to find a social media manager. I can help you get the right tools, and I can help you get a broad understanding of a strategy for how to use those tools and how to leverage what you have for copy already to start publishing and getting things going. But the answer is, don’t make the excuse, “I’m not going to do it because it’s going to be too many clients immediately.”
A lot of times when we get somebody set up with all of the automation and technology, maybe integrating things with a website or looking at different tools that create an all-in-one sequence of events to streamline processes, often social media comes up. And the most important thing that I can tell you is social media is one tactic within your marketing plan. In an earlier episode of the Third Paddle, we discussed the essentials of building out a marketing plan, with all these different strategies and then the different tactics. So I misspoke a second ago. Actually, one of the strategies of social media, and then the tactics are, which exact social media networks you’re going to leverage in an effort to build your business and drive traffic to your website or to something else that you’re doing, such as a podcast? So what that means is, you have this overarching marketing plan that has more dimensions to it, likely, than just social media. You might have email marketing, social media, you may send out press releases, you may go to networking events, and belong to groups on social media that aren’t really your own. All of these are different or paid ads. You may even do paid ads. So there are all these different strategies available to you and one component is social media. So it’s important not to put all of your eggs in one basket meaning just social media. And then people say, “Well, I don’t even know where to start.” Well, a good place to start is by doing a little bit of research because if you back up out of the marketing plan, and go a little bit higher level on your business. You’re going to find that you have a mission, and a vision, and probably somewhere in the mix of all that, you’re going to have a client avatar. Who is it that you want? Because you can’t market to everyone or your marketing to no one. So you have to really drill down to who it is that is most important you. Who are the people, who are your people that you’re going to market to, A? And then B, where are those people? So I can tell you that not all social networks are created equal. You’re not going to find a lot of women on the now recently defunct Google Plus network. And you might not find as many men Pinterest as you will on other social networks.
There’s been a lot of research out there including by the Pew Institute, which I will put a link to that in the show notes. I find that to be probably one of the best research tools for who is using which of the social networks. You going to want to look by; gender, economic status, and other dimensions to see who you are most likely to find on which social media platform. And then you go all in on that. And you probably don’t go all in on everything because the more you spread yourself out, the less likely you’re to have any depth in any one platform. So don’t spread yourself out too thin. Find the social network that is most likely to have your people, and then really work that network.
So what is that mean to work the network? It means, yes, you can post at the high-level. Meaning you have your own profile say on Facebook, your business profile. But then you want to follow people who are most likely to be your typical best client. And then you need to find the groups within Facebook where those people hangout. And LinkedIn has groups, Reddit has groups, Pinterest has groups. You want to go wherever that network is and go into the groups. And they are going to be groups where you can post what’s going on. And more importantly, you can interact with people in those groups, and get to know them, and learn about their problems in their own language because that’s one of the keys. When you learn the language of your ideal customer then you can use that language to promote and discuss how you solve those problems. And if you’re doing that in the social network, where you people are, you more likely to leverage that particular network. And eventually, turn that into a revenue-generating stream for you and your business quicker than by just posting at the high-level from your business page. And all of this does take a little bit of work, but I can tell you that it’s absolutely worth it.
So you might be saying, “Okay, I found the network.” “I know where my people are.” “I’ve got some things kind of lined up, now what?” Well, you need to come up with some sort of social media strategy for; when you’re going to post, where you’re going to post, all of those kinds of things. You’ve kind of collected all of the data but then you need to organize it in a way that you understand. So that you’re not just sitting on social media all the time because nobody has time for that. And that’s when you come up with a social media plan – social media marketing plan – when you post, what types of content do you post, and and how’s it going to go out? I use SocialBee. I think it’s a phenomenal product. I also love StoryChief and a few other content management systems that allow me to build out the calendar and have a really good idea of when and where everything is going to post. So in SocialBee, it really was an eye-opener for me. It really educated me to the different types of content that I need to post in order to really leverage it and hopefully get some customers out of it. And so it can’t all be– You can’t just be selling, selling, selling or people just shut you off. And you also can’t never sell because then people don’t know that you’re selling anything. So there’s kind of a method to it. You want to have an even balance of fun pictures and unique holidays and quotes and then links to products that you sell and items that you sell and you schedule it all out. You make it fun and interactive. But then the most important thing is blocking out time on your calendar so that you can respond and engage with the people who are like, “Hey, what does that mean?”, “Hey. Hey. What’s going on?”, “How do I do that?”, “How do you solve this problem for me?”, “What is it that you actually do because I don’t understand it?” So that’s the thing that you’re likely stressing out about is all of the time that it takes to respond.
But the good news and my friend and colleague Elizabeth Case at Yellow Dog consulting puts it pretty simply which is, you block out a time on your calendar and you devote 15 or 20 minutes a day to social media and responding. And then to that, I say, “Yes,” and you plan it out and you schedule it in a social media planning tool like SocialBee or Buffer or Hootsuite, whatever it is that works for you so that you have the items automatically posting to your accounts. You’re not physically sitting there posting every few days or every minute or so. You want to be sure that you leverage the technology that’s out there so that you can get your posts out there in a reasonable amount of time and then you’re spending most of your time engaging. So the way that I do this and the way I know that some other people do this is they sit down and they spend a half a day or a day, a month, and they come up with all the things that they want to post and they schedule it out, and then they sit back and let [scheduler?] run, and they’re just involved in the engagement piece. And that’s a much easier strategy than feeling like you have to sit on all of these networks.
Now, for some networks, actually probably most of them, you’re going to need to go into specific groups and and post some content about yourself and what you offer and engage but that can be done in the groups where your clients are in that 15 or 20 minute block that you set aside just to work on social media. I hope this helps. And I guess that what I’m saying is, “Use the tools to schedule it out and then don’t think about it. Just spend your time responding. And I think that’ll make things a little bit easier.” [music] So the last thing that I would like to talk about is the do’s and don’ts of engagement. You see, engagement is about conversing and engaging with people on social media. More often than not, that’s not exactly what we see. My friend and colleague, Sarah Hadley who you should really listen to next week’s show because she will be on there as a guest. She writes on Medium and the post is called Dear Brenda, We Need to Talk. I will put this in the show notes because the whole thing is
priceless, but she puts it so much more eloquently than I could, because I tried. I recorded this earlier and then I read the post again and I realized, when it comes to engagements, Sarah really has this nailed. Quote, “To all the Brendas out there, and there’s about 12 trillion of you, stop it. Stop flooding inboxes with lame sales pitches, stop tagging us in all your posts, and for the love of all that is good and holy, stop adding us to groups so that we can watch you open pearls. If you want to make a sale without sounding like a jerk, I have a suggestion. Instead of poaching lists and spamming people with friend requests, find people who interest you and have things in common. Talk to them about your mutual love of taxidermied beavers and hatred of boy bands. Like their pictures, comment on their posts, become their friend. Give them a reason to connect.” She goes on and on and it’s quite beautiful. But if you’ve ever been added to a Facebook group or gotten a sales email right away after adding someone on LinkedIn, did you really read it? Did you really join the group or did you run off and unjoin the group? Leave the group? Did you read the sales message and schedule the appointment? Or did you delete it because you felt a little invaded? My guess is it’s the latter, because unless it’s your buddy talking to you about, “Oh, you should really join this group,” or, “Hey, you should really meet this guy because they sell what you need,” you’re probably not going to give it a second look. And that’s what engagement actually is. Engagement is actually engaging, talking to people, not just sending them a sale, because they’re not going to do it. And I don’t care if you’re in some MLM that tells you that you need to chatbot people and send them these prolonged messages that nobody reads about why they need to buy your essential oils. They can tell you that all that they want, but the truth is you’re pushing more people away than you’re attracting. Yes, you may email 500 of your friends who didn’t join your list, and maybe you get three or four to buy essential oils from you, but you have done far more damage by sending an invasive email than if you had nurtured that relationship and talked to people and genuinely found out if they had a need for your product so that they could then buy from you on their own time and in their own way. See, social media engagement is actually about that. It’s about getting to know people, getting to be their friend, and then if it works out, then trying to make the sale. Or, as what happens to me more often than not, people come to me. I don’t have to go out and drum up a lot of business, because I do a good job and people come to me and they find me and they want to work with me. And that’s really what it’s all about. The dos and don’ts of engagement on Facebook, of being a member of this social media tribe as a business owner is really no different than being a part of it as an individual, when people take things too far, when they push you to want to unfriend them because they’ve attacked you in some way when you’re their friend, they will block you, they will unfriend you, they will set you as an acquaintance so that they don’t have to see you, they will mute you, depending on what the social network is. And that’s just if you’re their friend. If you’re a business, the trigger’s actually much quicker, and they will get you quicker than you could even believe. So you need to cultivate that. Think of social media engagement as a relationship and not like the gross speed dating kind of relationship, but as a long term engagement, where you’re showing up every day, and you’re being there in service and to help, and the people who need you will find you, because they find you and your posts endearing and engaging and probably because you both love taxidermied beavers and hate boy bands. Because all of that is part of it too. I’m not saying you don’t need to be controversial. You need to have opinions and you need to share them. And being a little bit controversial is what gets people to follow you. It’s what gets people to know that you’re their person and you’re someone that they need to follow. But it’s not by making the sale immediately. Because that’s a game ender. There’s a difference between being controversial so that people know what you want and know what you stand for so that you can find other people that want what you want and stand for what you stand for. There’s a difference between that and making the sale prematurely or before you’ve even met. [inaudible] puts it as, “Jab, jab, jab, right hook.” That means you sell enough that people know that you have something to sell. That’s the right hook. But you make sure that you stay in front of them, jab, jab, jab. And that’s by saying, “Hey, I read this article. I think you’ll like it.” “Hey, read this quote. I think it pertains to you.” “Hey, here’s this video. I thought it was funny.” Right hook. “Here’s what I offer as a service. Do you fit into any of these categories?” Link to your website. And as somebody who does tech strategy, I cannot tell you enough that when you are posting on social media, the biggest do is make sure you’re driving traffic to your website, and that you have some way to capture people’s interest and emails when they’re there. Those two things are a really big deal. Too often, people build a website and nobody comes and they think the website’s broken. But if you’re not sending out links and updating your website and telling people that your website exists, in the sea of millions of websites, they’re never going to find it. So the important thing about social media is to drive traffic to your website. And then once they’re there, you need to know that most people just visit a website one time. And oftentimes, it’s not for very long. So you have to grab their attention and, if possible, offer something interesting so that they will join your email list. And then when they’re on your email list, it’s the same principle. Jab, jab, jab, right hook. You don’t then immediately send a chat bot to make the $10,000 high end group program sale. You thank them for being there, and you nurture that relationship, and if they’re interested, you eventually get to your high end group program or an online course. Anything less than that and you’re losing a lot more money than you’re making. And be sure to check out next week’s show with Sarah Hadley. Thank you for listening.
Thank you for listening to The Third Paddle podcast. Be sure to catch every episode by subscribing on iTunes. To learn more, check out our website at www.thirdpaddle.com. The Third Paddle Podcast is sponsored by Foster Growth LLC, online at www.fostergrowth.tech
In addition to solving hairy marketing operations problems, I host one of the best business podcasts for women, the Women Conquer Business podcast, which provides actionable strategies, business how-to’s, and real-world advice from subject matter experts and entrepreneurs to help you grow, nurture, and sustain your business. But if you want the REAL story, I am an uber-nerd who loves dad jokes, building seamless systems, and helping leaders find more joy in their work.