It’s really no wonder that the majority of smaller business operators are reluctant to embrace social networking as a marketing tactic.
We have to remember that this is a sector that is still not totally convinced that websites aren’t the very first port of call when you are looking for a supplier of pretty much anything at all – a reality that has been with us for at least a decade now.
Given their reticence to embrace this most fundamental of digital marketing tools, the notion of starting random ‘conversations’ with people you’ve never laid eyes on is just one technique that is stretching the Friendship just that bit too far.
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Because whilst websites are at least a little similar to producing a full colour brochure (still something most smaller businesses have never done), the idea of building your profile on social networks by engaging with willing Friends is a completely foreign concept – unless you are starting your business under the age of 25.
A younger player’s game?
So expecting business operators who on average are well into their 30s to pick up and embrace something that is completely foreign to them is just not realistic without considerable proof of its benefits and a steep learning curve.
At least those who engage in social networking in their personal lives at least have a head start by understanding how it works.
But for those who don’t, you may as well be explaining the inner workings of a flux capacitor.
Even if you do manage to get beyond your sea legs, there are plenty of ways to improve your performance.
One of these is by mastering the ‘spontaneous post’.
Not for the faint of heart
Spontaneous or unscheduled posts are posts made within social networks or their Groups, that haven’t been planned, pre-conceived or scheduled.
They are a completely new concept to smaller business because in the past few marketing tactics have ever occurred without considerable planning and preparation.
Spontaneous posts are made for the same reason you make any post within a social network: To promote your business, raise your profile or to obtain some feedback or information from your Friends or Group members.
Or just to virtually ‘chew the fat’ with fellow business owners.
Avoiding spontaneous combustion
But spontaneous posts are also the bane of the larger organisation. For while individuals or smaller business owners may have the courage to throw a topic ‘into the ring’ and be able to manage any consequences that may result, larger businesses have expensive brand equity, reputations and a raft of confidential information to protect and conserve.
The notion of an employee having carte blanche to say what they like about their employer would put public relations staff into a frenzy.
It’s just not in the best interests of the larger organisation without strict and carefully prepared guidelines and training.
But for well-versed and rehearsed smaller business practitioners, the spontaneous post can actually lead to immediate business.
Reacting to current events
Take recent hot weather conditions for example. In an attempt to take advantage of thirst quenching weather, a hotelier might arrange a spontaneous happy hour where beer prices are reduced, or come with free snacks and so on.
Given the immediate nature of social networking, the hotelier could enter a post about the spontaneous happy hour – ideally with an eye-catching image or graphic, and create immediate interest and patronage of their happy hour.
If you take pretty much any situation that affects demand for your product or service, you could do the same thing – not just to your own Friends (or Likers) but within relevant Groups that can contain hundreds or even thousands of potential customers.
Of course some of these seemingly spontaneous posts are nothing of the sort. They have been meticulously pre-planned and even programmed at a much earlier date.
Either way, it’s worth considering the kinds of occasion that you might make a ‘spontaneous’ post and be alert to opportunities to create them.