Happy Halloween everyone! I’m marking today by sharing my experience when asked to be a featured speaker late last month at a client’s national conference. Selected Independent Funeral Homes (no Halloween jokes please) is a wonderful group of individuals, the vast majority of whom are community leaders and philanthropists who have, for the most part, gotten into this business because it was in their families for generations but also because they inherently want to serve others. They think of themselves as caring for the living, not necessarily for the deceased. What they do provides closure and helps in the grieving process. But I digress. My post is about the scary topic of social media.
However, I wanted to give a little context about the people in my sessions and their profession. My topic was “Working with Today’s Media,” which focused heavily on integrating marketing and PR into your business but also had an entire section on social media. As you can imagine that could have been a session all its own. The funeral industry is not unlike many others, which have been forced to evolve or become extinct. People’s attitudes toward funerals and associated costs has changed dramatically and to succeed, practitioners and business owners must keep up with the times. Also like many businesses, theirs is about relationships and making a connection with the people they serve. Those people, of course, happen to be on social media in growing numbers.
My session included social media statistics in order to set the stage for the trend. Most of the attendees already “got it” and several were doing it right and served as case studies in my sessions. One has a fantastic blog with a great following that covers a wide array of eclectic topics. Another has a community outreach program that builds and strengthens partnerships. A third has a huge Facebook following built over the past three years. But, what struck me were the fraidy-cats and the can’t-be-bothered’s, particularly when it comes to Facebook, arguably the largest social networking platform.
And, not to pick on this group that I presented to, either. I’ve come across this with other clients and in plenty of business (and social) networking conversations. What I’m talking about are those people who are either plain scared of social media or acknowledge its potential but don’t want to be bothered. Show of hands . . . do you know one? Are you one?
The Fraidy-Cats. These are the folks who aren’t necessarily internet-averse, but they don’t like the idea of sharing information on the internet, creating personal profiles and posting their status for all to see. Perhaps it’s the fear of the unknown, in terms of a simple lack of understanding for how it works. The other thing keeping the fraidy-cats away could be a fear of the time commitment (or potential time waster) inherent in getting on board the social media bandwagon. All valid concerns. Now on to . . .
The Can’t-Be-Bothereds. These are people who have given social media a try and are really not averse to it in theory. In fact, their status updates may be quite interesting and they found themselves connecting with people that they were happy to find after all these years; possibly even leading to business networking opportunities. However, they simply cannot bring themselves to care about what the people in their news feed had for dinner or to muster up the energy to even log on to Facebook on a regular basis to keep it active. So they abandon it altogether.
Here’s where I have great news for both groups of people:
Social media can be your friend.
It’s true. You don’t have to have hundreds of Facebook friends and post several times a day (or even every day) to make this medium work for your business. You also don’t have to keep up with what your long-lost high school buddies did last weekend. Don’t let these things prevent you from starting — and maintaining — a Facebook page for your business. Here are just a few tips to get you past your fears:
- If you aren’t comfortable with Facebook, enlist someone who is (from within your organization or get outside help) to get you started.
- Share the page with the friends and business associates who you know are on Facebook and ask them to “Like” your page. Make sure your employees do so as well. They will be your best ambassadors.
- If you are only using Facebook for your business, then do just that; focus your time on posting to and growing your business page, using it as a tool to connect with customers and build relationships.
- Remember that Facebook is for social media. It is NOT a sales tool or for self-promotion. Your posts should be about topics of interest to your followers and the community and not what you’re selling. Be a helpful source of information and when a customer needs what you have to offer, you will be top of mind.
- Last but not least, set yourself up for success. Don’t overwhelm yourself with expectations you can’t meet. Set an attainable goal for consistent posting and updates (include photos, events and other interesting content). Consistency and quality is more important than quantity. Solicit content ideas from your staff and make it fun — run monthly contests for the best post ideas!
I hope this will help allay your fears of the social media monster. If you have additional tips or feedback to share, please chime in.