Yes, I know what you're thinking: this girl has lost her mind! And you're probably right. But just give me a minute to state my case...I might surprise you!
Before we jump right in, I have to introduce myself first: my name is Krista and this, my friends, is my very first published post as SGM - whoop! It's been a long time coming (seriously. you just don't even know. more on that later.) and even though I haven't launched the full site yet, I hope to dazzle you with my experiences, wit and charm through this blog...that might be stretching it a bit but you get the gist, right?!
Ok. Let's talk shop - getting back to my bold statement from before: SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGEMENT DOESN'T WORK FOR SMALL BUSINESS. And it doesn't. Here's why:
Social media management refers to a person or team who is in charge of running a company's social media accounts. The breakdown of specific tasks and responsibilities varies widely and depends on what the manager and company inevitably agree to. Corporations don't really have a choice, they have to invest in management (whether through an agency or in-house) since they are much too large to operate otherwise. Small businesses, however, have more flexibility - they can hire someone to manage their accounts or they can hire someone as a consultant or trainer and inevitably manage themselves. So, which one is best?
After a decade+ in PR, marketing and corporate event planning, I opened Social Graces Media 1.5 years ago with a certification in Hootsuite (yes, it's a thing) and a voracious appetite for all things social media. Within two months, I landed my first client. Fast forward a few more months and I was happily juggling three clients: two were real estate agents and the other was a jewelry boutique that was crossing into uncharted territory to become a stand-alone e-commerce and lifestyle brand. Needless to say, I had my hands full. As a social media manager, I focused all of my time and energy into growing their accounts, introducing them to analytics & the importance of social and website tracking & staying on top of industry trends so that they stayed ahead of the game. My own brand was barely being maintained, aside from posts here and there, but I was dedicated to my clients.
Did their accounts grow? Did they learn more about social media, branding and digital marketing? Did they benefit financially from my endeavors? The answer to all three: YES!
But I thought you said it didn't work? Yep. I did. And it doesn't. Stay with me, here.
The strategies were great. The promotions were great. The analytics were great. The management/client relationship was NOT great. First, most business owners don't feel comfortable giving up control over their brand's message. Period. Now, from my perspective as a fellow entrepreneur, I totally get it. After all the blood, sweat and tears that I have put into my own brand and business so far, you would have to pry it from my cold, dead fingers. But as a social media professional who was hired because of my experiences & insights within the industry, & as a solution to alleviate the owner of his/her massive social and digital marketing efforts; having "said business owner" micromanage the day-to-day operations was not an efficient scenario. Let's just say...I wasn't feeling the love after spending several hours planning, creating/designing, & drafting content for all of it to be "edited" (::ahem - shredded to pieces::) or deleted entirely before they were posted. Yeah, no. Not. Cool.
Lesson #1: Trust in us is a must!
On the flip side, some business owners hand over the reins and ride off into the sunset, never to be seen or heard from again. Well...until it's time to pay you and then they want to see what you've been up to, of course. This scenario doesn't work, either. As fabulous as it might sound to be able to do what you want for someone who is MIA, it isn't beneficial for either of you. Take my word for it, if the owner neglects their business' marketing efforts (and you as well), these are big red flags. They should be eager to work with you in developing their brand, social presence and digital marketing strategy, and regular communication between both parties is key in developing a productive and positive partnership.
Lesson #2: If they don't wanna talk, you need to walk.
At the end of the day, no matter how well you think you know the business or how well you think you know the owner, you aren't them. You never will be. Your voice and vision are, and always will be, different. We preach about authenticity, consistency and a cohesive brand message but the minute you step in to take over their accounts, all of that goes out the window. You might establish consistency while you're there but the second you leave (and you will leave at some point), guess what happens? Yep. Everything that you just worked so hard to build, crumbles the instant someone else begins to use their own personality and voice. It isn't our brand and it isn't our role to speak for the brand. Instead of taking over, we need to empower the business owner and their staff to be the brand.
Lesson #3: Don't be an imitator, let the real Slim Shady stand up.
Now that I have given you the three biggest reasons why social media management doesn't work for small business, I am now going to explain what does work: consultations and training. Why those? So glad you asked!
As a social media professional (you won't hear me refer to anyone as an "expert" in this field - more on that later), our goals are not just to grow follower counts, monitor likes/comments and curate content. These are important, of course, but when you look at the BIG picture, these are only pieces of the puzzle. Our goals are to (you might want to share this one - just sayin'!):
1. Establish a solid and unique brand - in addition to colors, logo, and tagline, it is imperative that they agree on their mission and voice and that they also have a strong website that features their products and/or services.
2. Identify their ideal audience - this is not just a guess, friends. It takes time, research and monitoring to pinpoint a target audience.
3. Using the appropriate social media channels, develop a strategy that includes valuable content, digital marketing and social advertising = drive audience from social to website, giving them the best opportunity to purchase. Ding! Ding! Ding! And we have a winner! *Now, it must be stated that this method may change in the not-too-distant-future as Facebook, Instagram, & others continue to offer ways to keep an audience on the social medium itself vs. having to click through to a website. But you get the idea, right?
4. Monitor Analytics - this is a must, no excuses. How will they know if their promotion resulted in site traffic and/or sales if they aren't watching? They need to be measuring social and website analytics. A great place to start is Google Analytics - easy-peasy!
OUR FOCUS IS TO EMPOWER THE BUSINESS OWNER TO NOT ONLY UNDERSTAND THE POTENTIAL THAT THESE CONTEMPORARY METHODS AND STRATEGIES OFFER THEM, BUT TO ALSO PROVIDE THEM WITH THE BEST TOOLS & TO SHOW THEM THE WAY. The beauty in the consultant/client arrangement is that you are not taking over their brand - the trust, communication and brand authenticity remain intact. As an added bonus: you don't get bogged down in the day-to-day maintenance of client accounts - instead, you can continue to grow your own business, too! It's a win-win, folks.
I started Social Graces Media as a social media manager but because of all that I learned last year, I am now re-branding to offer services that are better suited for the small businesses and creatives that I work with. I will now be offering consulting and training options, webinars & e-courses, and workshops that will be planned using a holistic approach, meant to provide a solid foundation for professional success. As I launch into the new phase of my business, I hope you will follow along as I continue to write about social media, digital marketing, and small business; while also keeping you entertained with my life as a twin-mom and entrepreneur. And, yes, I have adopted the "mompreneur" title - don't judge. It's a thing.
As I feverishly work to complete the site, you can keep track of what's going on over here by reading the blog & by signing up for the newsletter - no spam here, friends, just access to my SECRET GARDEN! This special place is only for those who have the password and are interested in FREE resources they can use to organize or creatively enhance their professional efforts - this is a secret you won't want to keep. Stay tuned!
Ok, so, how did I do? Did I convince you or are you going to politely disagree? Sound off in the comments below - I would love to hear about your experiences!