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Can social media make or break your business?

This week I thought I’d have a quick look at good use of social media and ask, ‘can social media make or break your business?’ I was intrigued to see the furore caused yesterday, 16th April 2018, when the pub chain JD Wetherspoon announced it was quitting its social media accounts. Ironically the vehicle it chose in order to make this announcement to the world, was Twitter. Wetherspoon had 44,000 followers on Twitter, 100,000 on Facebook, and 6,000 on Instagram, so relatively small numbers for a firm with 900 pubs.

Wetherspoon quits social media

The reason given for quitting social media was the bad publicity social media is currently experiencing, thanks to data breaches etc., and the “trolling” of MPs, something that the well-known right wing chairman of the chain, Tim Martin, considers untoward, although commentators are sceptical about these reasons, eyeing the move as a publicity stunt, and just another way for Wetherspoon’s to grab some media attention, or perhaps avoid scrutiny into their own use of social media during the EU referendum campaign.

So can social media make or break your business?

There is no doubt that social media is an important business tool that allows you to stay in touch with existing customers, advertise your wares, and attract new customers. Millennials increasingly use social media in all its forms, both personally and professionally.

Things to consider when utilising social media

1. Consider what you say
There has been a growing tendency for many media outlets to simply create news articles from Twitter feeds. You’ll notice that something will start trending, and rather than many journalists undertaking any investigative journalism, they will quote reactions from Twitter users. The tweets are used unproblematically and without asking. If you’re a social media user with a brand, you need to take care that what you say cannot be misconstrued and won’t go viral for the wrong reasons (unless you want it to).

Can social media make or break your business? It certainly can if you use social media to rant. It is best to hold emotional rants on your own page rather than your social media page. A business page needs to remain largely professional (although of course it can be fun too). Your name will always be tied to your business, so check your privacy settings.

If anything can be misconstrued, or taken the wrong way, or have more than one meaning – it is best to avoid saying it on social media. You must protect your business’s reputation.

2. Be positive
Utilise your social media to promote a positive image of yourself and your brand or business. Be positive and happy. Say nice things. Be compassionate about world problems and other people. Be inclusive. Your followers will love positive and uplifting messages and think highly of you.

Similarly, if you use images, remember that these images can be cropped or manipulated and used in different ways. Take care when posting photos especially of pets, family members and children. Remove all tags and identifiers from your posts, and save the originals. That way if someone re-uses your content without your permission you have a back-up as evidence of the original material.


3. Use Social Media to your advantage
Can social media make or break your business? Yes, but you can use it to great advantage. One of the huge advantages of social media is how up to date it is. If you’re social media savvy, you’ll keep an eye on the trends and tailor your tweets or posts to ride on the coat tails of whatever is currently big news. You’ll stay relevant and engage other social media users.

4. Is social media necessary?
If Tim Martin is correct, social media is not necessary for your business. In his case, maybe he’s correct. The chain is doing well enough in challenging economic situations, but his social media campaigns have performed poorly. Running a decent social media campaign takes talent.

However, many experts say that if you opt out of social media, you run the risk of excluding a huge chunk of the user population, limit your reach, and therefore you’ll miss out on profits. Marketing on social media is not just about the customers you have, but your potential customers. The thing is, social media will carry on with or without you, regardless of whether you are engaged with it or not. There’s no point in putting your head in the sand.

5. Social media as a customer service platform
Customers like to feel they are being listened to, and that their opinion matters. If you’re doing the best you can by your customers and someone posts to your Facebook page or tweets to you about a product or service, you have a golden opportunity to provide first class customer service.

The thing to remember here is you MUST engage with those customers, and you must do it in a way that shows you and your company, business or brand in a good light. What you don’t want to do is call someone a liar or a whiny cry-baby, because other potential customers will check out what you have said and they will act in response. Never meet customer questions and complaints with silence. That’s the fastest way to alienate your customer base, or potential customer base.

In the words of Hot Chocolate, ‘Everyone’s a critic, baby ..’ Oh, wait!

These days everyone can be a critic. People are quick to anger on social media because they can get away with it behind a wall of anonymity. It’s important that you don’t take it personally, and that you always respond in a level-headed, kind and fair way.

6. Present professionally
It’s vital to run a check on what you post too. Try and avoid typos and spelling mistakes and the like. Don’t post anything that might be factually inaccurate. Have somebody proof read if you’re not sure.

7. Are your accounts secure?
You need to avoid being hacked. Ensure your passwords are complicated enough to be fairly secure, because if your account is compromised you will lose control of what is posted on it.

8. Be the bigger person
You’re only human. If you or your business make a mistake somehow, apologise for it in a meaningful way. Try to make up for inconvenience you may have caused people. People don’t forget quickly, and they will always remember if you humiliated them or made them look like a fool.

Over to you
Can social media make or break your business? What do you think? Get in touch. Drop us a line below. Tweet us or come and join us on Facebook 🙂

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