Training small business clients on using social media is fun and rewarding. I get to share something I’m passionate about with others and help them breakthrough their anxiety.
Here are 5 common “fear factors” I’ve encountered over and over with my small business clients:
1) I don’t understand it
2) What’s the point – (“Who cares what I ate for breakfast?” I hear a lot.)
3) It takes too much time
4) Fear of “sharing too much”
5) Fear of mixing business with personal
Fear 1—I don’t understand it so I’m reluctant.
I get it. It’s new and can feel awkward at first. But think back to your childhood for a minute. When you’re born everything’s new so you’re constantly learning. You’re learning to speak, to walk, to hold a spoon, to tie your shoes. Everything you do is learning a new skill. It’s just part of your life. You don’t question it. You just practice until you get it right.
After a certain age you know how to do most of the things you do every day and you have to seek out new learning experiences—like taking up dance lessons or cooking classes.
Social media is different. You know you need to “figure it out” for your business but it seems overwhelming. And, for many, it seems a waste of time. I mean, who cares that you’re at Starbucks or had your car serviced, right?
Fear 2 –Which brings us to “what’s the point?” which is really a variation on the fear of not understanding it.
Life is made up of many moments large and small including seemingly mundane activities like getting the car serviced. It’s something you might say in conversation with someone if it were relevant. Social media is a conversation.
Here’s another big one I hear from small business owners.
Fear 3—It takes too much time.
It takes a little time to get set up and familiar with the tools, but if you commit 15 minutes a day to Facebook for two weeks, you’ll get more comfortable with how it works.
Once you develop a habit of sharing useful information with your prospects on a regular basis, you may be surprised by how little time it actually takes. Plus, when the conversations start happening through Facebook and you start building that trust with your prospects, you’ll have your own “eureka!” moment as it all comes together for you.
Fears 4 & 5—I don’t want prospects or clients to see my personal Facebook page
Otherwise known as “I don’t want to mix business and personal”.
I run into this a lot. My clients meet people at networking functions and those people want to “friend” them on Facebook. Many of my clients are uncomfortable with that level of “exposure” and ask me what to do. I always offer them choices.
a) Don’t confirm the friendship, send them a note and say you like to keep your Facebook personal but you’d love to connect with them on Linked In or on your Facebook Business Page.
b) Accept them but set your privacy settings so they’re not seeing the Christmas morning pictures in your jammies that your sister posted on your wall. Those can be reserved for family only (you can also ask your sister not to post such pictures but you’re on your own with that one.)
Many people use their personal profile as their “brand” so it makes sense to friend people they meet in the business community from their personal Facebook page. They’re using it as a mix of business/personal. After all, business is personal. You do business with people you know and like.
In 2011, The Lines Are Blurred
Actually, they always were. It’s just that social media makes it more obvious.
Very few people work a strict 9-5 Monday through Friday schedule anymore. Certainly not small business owners. If you have a home office you probably check email at night and work a few hours on weekends. Then you go to a neighbor’s BBQ and talk about what you do for work with acquaintances. Maybe you get a couple of leads through conversation.
Later, you come home and check email. One of the possible leads sent you a friend request on Facebook. It happens every day.
The Social Media Secret
Here’s the thing. Social media is a set of tools—Facebook, Linked In, etc. through which you can connect with lots of people in a few seconds.
If you attend business card exchanges and networking lunches and BNI meetings chances are you think networking is important.
Social media is just another avenue for those conversations. Plus, it lets you extend your reach and keeps working for you even when you take time off. It never gets tired or sick or wants a vacation. Pretty good partner if you ask me.
You can use it to go where your audience is. I had a florist tell me, “All the brides are on Facebook.”
It’s just good business to be on Facebook if that’s where your audience is spending time. Don’t you agree?
So, what’s the big secret? Possibly the biggest secret to social media is there isn’t one.
That’s right. There is no secret. It’s just being friendly and helpful and social. Just like you are at Chamber meetings, your child’s school events, church functions and family BBQ’s. It’s just online so it may feel different at first.
You won’t understand it if you don’t do it. Will you stumble? Probably, it’s ok. Everyone does. As long as you don’t use the tools to exclusively blast everyone about your latest promotion or write nasty things about people, you’ll be fine.
So, spend some time on the tool of your choice, Linked In, Twitter or Facebook and get familiar with it. See what others are sharing and join in the conversation.
The thing I’d really like to impart my clients is this:
There are no rules.
Really. This is brand new media and we’re all figuring it out as we go along. So, relax. Sure, you can “let it all hangout” too much but most of you are not in danger of that. You’re on the other extreme.
If it makes you feel better, you can even create a structure such as:
• Today post a useful link
• Tomorrow post a video or photograph
• 3 times a week write a short status update
• 2 times a week comment on other people’s Pages
If you need guidelines to help you, by all means, make a chart for yourself . But, don’t feel bound by it. Don’t let it restrain you. Social media is a conversation and you wouldn’t plan out every conversation would you?
Once you get over the fear of doing social media “right” you will have more fun with it and be yourself which really is the whole point.Here’s to building friends and associates through social media! You can do it!