People parading around as ‘social media experts’ and ‘web designers’ often stop at people’s places of business, hop off their unicorns and point at the rainbow they just rode in on. “You can do this too!” Well, of course they can. They only need a unicorn and an on-ramp to the rainbow. So they gladly get sold a spare unicorn with no understanding of how to ride the unicorn and no understanding of the rules of the road on the rainbow. Effectively they sell an overpriced bag of Skittles and a rocking unicorn as preparation for the unicorn apocalypse.
It’s one of the more common things I see with small businesses – one person businesses, or ‘Mom & Pop’ businesses – is the issue of social media and internet presence. It’s not that they do or do not have a social media/internet presence – it seems that someone is always ready to take their money to get them started down the path.
It’s that they often have unrealistic expectations of the services that they buy or the amount that they themselves can do. This is a big problem because social media can be particularly disheartening, and the Internet can be pretty daunting for someone who simply wants to make a good product or provide a good service.
I had one person tell me, “I’m not smart enough to do that.” I responded, “That’s not true.” She then said, “Well, it’s not how I want to spend my time.”
What these small businesses need to know is what they already do know – their business. From juicing vegetables, to making kale chips, to throwing needles into people, to making great chicken wings – it all boils down to your business. If you don’t know your market, and you don’t know your product or service, no one selling Skittles and a rocking unicorn will help you. Here’s what you need to understand:
- Your website and social media presence is marketing and branding.
- Your internet presence can be passive – a ‘business card’ site – or interactive in various ways.
- Your social media presence can never be passive. No one should buy a unicorn to keep it in the stable.
You get from your website and social media presence what you put into it. Sure, you can have a zillion followers on Facebook, but are they interacting? Are they engaged? Are you interacting? Are you engaged?
And – is it worth it? I’ve seen local businesses struggling to grow – it’s an awkward phase – and it doesn’t help when they’re spending their hard won time and/or hard earned money on ineffective internet and social media presences. If you’re selling all of your product or service, you probably shouldn’t oversell unless you have a plan for that success. Your money and time is better spent growing your business first to handle that success.
And – a warning. Be wary of people selling you rocking unicorns and overpriced bags of Skittles.