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Stop Outsourcing Your Social Media

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Would you outsource your personality? That’s essentially what you’re doing by letting a third party represent your business. Social is exactly that. It’s about building relationships. Some are one to one and others are one to many. Your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine etc. represent who you are – they are your voice – whether it’s in words or images. They reflect you and no outsider can copy that. Because no outsider can copy your personality. And yes, all brands have personality. Big or small they stand for something.

Many small businesses are afraid of social media. Mostly because they don’t understand it.  After all, they’re busy running their business and just don’t have TIME. They see it as a foreign thing. They don’t speak the language and don’t understand the significance. They know it’s something they SHOULD do. And since they don’t know how to, they hire an “expert.”

I’m not saying that social media gurus or agencies are all bad. I’m saying that they should only be used when absolutely necessary. They can be helpful in selecting the appropriate social media platforms (for example, not everyone needs to be on Snapchat, especially if your target market is seniors), setting up the accounts, showing you how to build a following, or coming up with a promotion or contest. BUT I don’t believe that anyone can build relationships for you that isn’t you. Especially in the initial stages of your social media presence.

Social media isn’t just about content (yours or someone else’s). It’s about opinions, it’s about humanizing your business, and it’s about letting others in. To your value system, thinking, habits. The more authentic you are, the more engaged your fans/followers will be. Oh and the time issue, well, it’ll quickly become a non-issue once you make it part of your life and see the benefits. Believe it or not, it can actually be fun. Especially once you stop seeing it as a chore but as a way to share and to engage.

I’ve been advising a friend who owns a small business and wants to grow. He just hired a PR firm and part of their job is social media. They set up Twitter and Facebook accounts. These have miniscule (~100) likes/followers and almost no engagement. Why? The content they post (once a day) is boring — articles from blogs. They add little personality to each post so it’s basically vanilla content. More noise on people’s feeds but no real value. No reason to stop and read because there was nothing that reflects the company.  So there are barely any likes or retweets.

Here’s the bottom line. People want to do business with other people. The advantage a small business has is that consumers can get close to the owner(s). They aren’t doing business with a faceless corporation. It’s why some consumers flocked to craft beer. It’s local. They can touch the brewery. Shake hands with the brewer. Or at least connect with him or her online. It feels real. It’s not just a purchase at the grocery store along with milk and bread. It’s a relationship. Not just a transaction.

When I released my film Beer Wars in 2009, my sister forced me on Facebook and Twitter kicking and screaming. She was an early adopter and already saw the value. I thought it was a time suck but gave it a try. I built a loyal following, wrote every tweet and post myself and developed relationships. Some even moved IRL (in real life) while others are with strangers who I feel like I know.

My theatrical and digital distribution partners both offered up their social media agencies. I declined, much to their surprise. I realized early on that no one would care as much as I do and that I wanted the relationships to continue long after the agencies were gone.

It ended up being the right call. On April 16, 2009, Beer Wars was a trending topic on Twitter! How did I do it? I partnered with other organizations that promoted the film, like Yelp and the Reason Foundation. I built trust and relationships early on. It turns out that social media is just like real life. It’s about give and take. Being nice and grateful. And most of all being real. That’s the best reason to tweet or post. Because you have something to say. And you say it best.

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