Social Media 101 for the Small Business

It’s 2016 and if your business is not on the web then it does not exist. All businesses, even small businesses, should have at least a website. These days, however, that is not enough.

Social media is the vehicle that drives traffic to your website, the central communication hub of your business. Social media is an extension of your existing website that allows for more instant communication of business news as well as direct customer interactions. Authors, musicians, artists, retailers and other mainstream businesses and professionals can benefit from a social media presence.

There are a multitude of options to choose from. You do not, and should not, be on every platform but you should take a look at what is out there and choose one to start with. Here are some things to consider when making that decision.

Why Do Social Media

Social media is about establishing a following. Viewers literally click a “follow” or “like” button to have your updates regularly delivered to their news feeds.

You will get followers if you offer relevant & timely information about your business, product or mission. Share info on new products, sale items or relevant industry news.

The other goal of social media is to have your followers share your posts with their social network. That is how new customers and clients will find you. It is basically the “word of mouth” marketing concept in a digital format.

Frequency of Social Media Posts

There is a lot of information out there that suggests daily posting, if not more, will get you the results you are looking for. For most small businesses and professionals, posting once or twice a week to keep followers engaged in your company is more than adequate. More often than that and followers will feel overwhelmed by your presence on their news feed and may choose to hide your posts or unfollow you.

 Types of Content Posts

Posts should be relevant, timely, short and descriptive. Don’t just say “I posted a photo to Facebook”. Say something descriptive about it such as “sneak peak of our spring line” if the photo is of new merchandise.

Posts can also be about upcoming events, industry news and testimonials.

Timing of Posts?

This all depends on what you are posting. Generally speaking it is best to post between 5-11pm, when most people are home from work, out of class and winding down for the day. Unexpected delays, closings or other news can be posted as needed.

Dealing with Negative Comments

Social media has a well-founded reputation of being the platform for spur of the moment, immediate gratification postings. These types of postings can often miss the mark and also offend. If you or your business are the recipient of such comments do not respond in kind. Take your time and be thoughtful in the words and information you put out there.

Complaints and negative comments can be indicative of valid issues that do need to be addressed and social media is a way for you to acknowledge the issue and assure customers it is being addressed. It is also a good platform to explain why something can not be changed. Sometimes public comments are simply not constructive. Those are the comments you delete.

I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly of social media in business and as purely social use. Just like with face to face communication, it is all what you make of it. Plan to make your corner of the digital social world the best it can be with what you put out there. Be ready to respond to constructive feedback that may necessitate a change on your end and be prepared to delete and block those that have nothing constructive to offer.

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Photography First Aid

‘Tis the season for photography! Decorations, pets and people! Film everything and be choosy in editing. Here is a little Photography First Aid advice for those pics that walk that line of being OK or a candidate for the delete button.

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Social Media and Crime | Social Media Today

This was an interesting article on Social Media and cyber crime.  Social Media and Crime | Social Media Today.  The accompanying info-graphic paints a picture of how much over-sharing we do on social media and the ways it can open us up to be victims of crime.

This and other articles out there point out the need to better understand your privacy settings.  This is true.  Understanding and using the privacy tools available is a good first step.  Privacy settings, however, come and go at the whim of the social media company that created them.  In that sense they are not a good line of defense.

Aside from giving up social media all together, the best line of defense is to not put information out there you do not want public in the first place.  Once you put something out there it is there to be shared, privacy filters or no privacy filters.

Copyright Digital Design Digest 2013

 

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The Digital Message in a Bottle

I read a blog post by David Pogue the other day about the “other folder” on Facebook.  It is the hidden folder where messages from those not in your Friends network go.  Pogue’s follow-on blog post talked about people’s responses to what they found in that “other” folder.  Some sad news, long lost friends trying to reconnect and even job interviews.

Pogue did us all a service in pointing out this “other folder”.  It is not obvious on Facebook it’s self.  By catching messages from those not in our network it serves as a bit of a spam filter. But if Facebook does not make it obvious to us, the end user, that it is there, is this “other folder” really serving us?  Is Facebook serving us?

I digress.  Pogue’s article made it clear, at least in my mind, that Facebook and other social media is for sharing and not meant for important communication, especially that of a sensitive, urgent or personal nature.  Everything has it’s place.  Older generations do not always see the value in social media for reach in product and idea marketing, customer service or even just staying in touch with family and friends all over the globe.  The younger generation often neglect email because everyone in their immediate social circle is on social media or at least a mobile device with texting abilities. This can lead to a false assumption that social media is the main mode of communication for all.

For major business communications email is still the more secure, private and versatile tool.  Email should be:

– checked at least twice a day with the intent of responding to the urgent emails within 24 hours.
– setup with automated folders specified by the user that sort incoming mail by sender or subject matter.  This will help with scanning through incoming mail for urgent messages, both business and personal.

– used for sending important messages like job offers, college acceptance (or rejections), business proposals and any other personal communication meant for a small, private audience.

Social Media is a great tool for alerting customers to new products, receiving customer feedback, providing useful tips and information in your area of expertise and sharing inspiration.  I have seen social media be used as a virtual yearbook for classmates to reminisce about a different place and time, a debate platform for current events and a basic news feed (as originally intended) of events and thoughts of the day.  It is a different kind of communication from email.  It is a richer, more versatile form of mass communication than email.

Everything has it’s place and no one thing can be everything to everyone…no matter how well it is marketed.

Copyright 2013 Digital Design Digest

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Jewel Tones

I know.  It’s been awhile since my last post.  I have been feverishly photographing my garden while it is still in it’s prime.  300 photographs later I am still processing them.  But I’ve been working on some other stuff too.

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I make jewelry.  Like gardening, it is what gets me away from the computer for a little while.  Also like gardening, it seems to circle back to something tech based.  I have been experimenting with different ways to photograph jewelry.  At the suggestion of some of my research I purchased 3 sided display poster board in white to create a reflector.  You can see the result above.   It also worked pretty well on the African Violets (see below).

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I photographed a variety of jewelry with beads that ranged from opaque to more translucent in nature.

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I had greater success finding the balance with lighting and bringing out the color in the opaque beads.  The translucent beads were more challenging.

That challenge was more evident when I began photographing earrings.  I wanted to photograph them in suspension….in their natural habitat so to speak…but not on a model.  I wanted the benefit of a clean background.  I kept the three sided white board up and ran fishing wire across the room and hung the earrings off of that.

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Some of my more translucent beads and even some of the deeper blue beads were challenging to photograph.  After several tries against the white background a clear, balanced image still eluded me.

I have purchased a 3 sided black board and a flat black board for the base of the “box” and will try another round of photography.

Practicing what I teach….getting out there and filming everything….starting with the things that inspire me outside of my trained field.

More to come!

Copyright 2013 Digital Design Digest.

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Meditative Drawing by Lavinia Viola

I enjoyed this. No talking, great music and it was relaxing to just scan the patterns she was creating….and anticipate what color she would use next 🙂

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A Macro Minute – The Red, White and Blues of Summer

Happy 4th of July everyone.

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white-geranium

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Copyright 2013 Digital Design Digest

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