We are happy to have Peter Wright guest post for us today. Peter Wright is a blogger, speaker, marketer and modern alchemist who helps individuals and businesses overcome adversity and transform their lives.
The relatively new collection of interactive on-line platforms, collectively known as “Social Media” media, offer many advantages for small businesses, professionals and solo operators to improve their marketing.
They also create two potential business destroying hazards for unwary business owners.
Should all businesses be active in Social Media? For this article, I am including a business website and blog under that broad heading.
There is one category of business that should not be on social media.
- Those that are illegal or cannot afford any publicity.
This category would include, drug dealers (illegal), arms dealers (both legal and illegal). Hostage negotiators, bodyguards for celebrities and some security services would be examples of legal businesses for which publicity could be disastrous, and possibly fatal for their clients.
Sporting and personal defence weapons manufacturers and retailers do not fall into this category.
There is a group of businesses that only require a passive presence on Social Media platforms (excluding a company website).
- Those that are operating at full capacity because of some limiting factor or condition.
It does not make sense to spend valuable time and / or dollars and would be counter productive to attract customers that cannot be supplied.
The passive activity should be enough to keep a presence and level of expertise on the most relevant platforms so that in the event of the second potential hazard striking the business, a defensive strategy can be quickly created and implemented.
Assuming your business does not fall into either of those two categories that should not be on Social Media, what should your strategy be?
Given that there are a number of advantages to most businesses being active in Social Media and that you have probably been the target of many “experts” telling you that you MUST be on Facebook, You Tube, twitter or many others, where and how do you start?
Selectively, Slowly and Carefully.
Where, when and how to start is with your business and marketing strategy, your existing and potential customers and consumers. It is a huge subject and not the subject of this post.
My purpose today is to recommend caution in your approach before rushing blindly into what can be a virtual minefield for the unwary.
Hazard Number One – Overwhelm
Many business owners run into trouble in the launch of their Social Media activities because they grossly underestimate the time it will take to, firstly get started and secondly, maintain a flow of fresh content. This also applies to business blogs.
Simple activities like opening accounts, recording user names and passwords, for a few platforms can take hours for those unfamiliar with these type of computer operations.
Once started, the distraction potential of twitter, You Tube, Linked In and Facebook among many others, is huge. The intention to spend 30 minutes updating one account can easily stretch to a couple of hours of interesting but economically unrewarding time wasted.
WordPress websites are another time sink. The platform is versatile and simple to use. It does not take long for any one with a basic understanding of computers to learn how to create posts, add new pages or some other simple activities. Problem is that many users want to do more and spend time learning about more advanced features. That learning curve can be long and steep. Every hour spent on it is an hour away from running your business.
At one stage of my life I was a farmer, I learned basic mechanical skills and regularly repaired my own vehicles and equipment. I enjoyed doing it and given the cost of getting repairs done by a professional, it was cost effective to do it myself.
Now, much older and wiser, I get my car serviced at a local garage. The cost is hardly any more than I would pay for filters and oil. It is just not worth the time and discomfort for me to attempt it myself.
The same is true for business owners with website design and maintenance. If you or your people have the time and skill to create content, that makes sense, you should be the best qualified to do it.
But for anything else, your time is better spent on your business, leave the upgrades, design tweaks and new features for your site or blog to an expert like Eric. You will get better results at a lower real cost.
The bottom line to avoid Hazard Number One, is to be realistic about your time availability and skill level. If you cannot allocate enough time to do it properly, contract it out. A half-hearted and poorly implemented Social Media Campaign is worse than no campaign at all.
Hazard Number Two – Digital Warfare
The second and potentially disastrous hazard is becoming the target for a digital attack.
Sadly you do not have to be wrong, dishonest, immoral, unethical or have product failures to become the target for a campaign of hate and attempts to discredit your business. Hate campaigns on Social Media do not have to be right, logical, fair, make sense. They just have to go viral very quickly.
There have been a number of high profile casualties in recent years.
Chick-fl-A the American chicken fast food chain was the target of massive campaign on twitter and other platforms in 2012. The owners were religious and chose not to open their restaurants on Sundays so that their employees could have the day off for church and to be with their families. In line with their religious convictions, the owners had made a donation to an anti same-sex marriage lobby.
When this became known, there were demands for the chains contracts to supply school and university cafeterias to be canceled, calls for boycotts, a huge outcry in Social Media.
In this case the chain stuck to their guns, rode out the storm and it appears increased their business to sell more chickens than KFC in 2013.
More recent casualties were Bernard Eich, who lost his job, Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong, Donald Sterling.
Whether you are active on Social Media or not, you need a plan to defend your business against an attack in Social Media.
It is the nightmare scenario when ignoring it is not an option. You have to take action, far better to be prepared and respond effectively than to have a knee jerk reaction and make the problem worse.
Social Media can be an effective marketing tool, but think before rushing in and remember the two potential hazards.
About the author: Peter Wright is a blogger, speaker, marketer and modern alchemist who helps individuals and businesses overcome adversity and transform their lives. Follow him at