No news is good news right?
The status quo, the norm, steady as she goes, these are things that make our lives more stress-free and comfortable.
Get business news first
Sign up to SmartCompany’s daily newsletter
Unless you are a business in 2015.
If you hadn’t noticed, the online world spins on the provision and spread of news about, well…. pretty much everything.
News fuels social networks. It is its reason for being and its money spinner.
Without our news, the revolution that is Facebook grinds to a halt. LinkedIn returns to being resumes in cyberspace and Twitter falls silent.
But this news is not so good for smaller business.
Extracting your news
As this blog keeps reiterating, the notion of ‘news’ is foreign to all but the largest of businesses.
It’s never had to create it, its never had to resource it, its never had to even think about it.
To smaller business, the notion of creating news is about as foreign as getting out of work before 5pm.
It’s simply something that they’ve never had to do before.
Prior to the interwebs, smaller business struggled to even get their annual Yellow Pages ad created, proofed and signed off before deadline.
Or their print ad ready in time for the next edition of the local newspaper.
In other words, the provision of content of any kind was restricted to creating it in time to create a campaign that may last them two years or more.
I’d take a stab and say that the majority created new content about their business about once every six months.
And that content was typically for a seasonal campaign to boost sales at given times of year.
For example, a tyre repair shop might want to create a campaign about tyre replacement prior to long school holiday drives.
Or a restaurant may want to promote weeknight specials to boost revenue in otherwise quiet times.
In most cases, the creation of this content was an extracurricular activity to their core business, or they have hired an affordable copywriter to help create it.
Conversely, the notion of creating professional regular content was something most larger businesses were quite accustomed to.
Most had teams of publicity, public affairs and marketing staff hired to do just that.
So whilst many smaller business may have the desire to try social media, very few have the resources or knowledge to actually make it happen.
The reality is that many are turning to younger family members to help them get their heads around what is a completely new stream of marketing.
And whilst that approach may save them some money in the short-term, it runs the risk of appearing and sounding amateurish.
Whilst younger family members may well be well-versed in engaging with their besties in social networks, creating professional and strategic messages is something few will understand and perform well, potentially damaging your brand instead of enhancing it.
So, how can small businesses best embrace what is becoming a critical promotional channel when it is short of all of expertise, resource and funds?
Given the confusing array of digital professionals out there, it’s a great question.
The two answers are training and affordable help.
Getting professional help
Even if you or your staff aren’t trained to be hands-on with your social networking presence, it’s a great idea to at least understand the theory behind social media for business.
There is now a range of great short courses, trainers and consultants available to do just that.
Then it’s a matter of having a professional either plan and execute your campaign for you or provide you or your staff the training and guidance to do it in-house.
Either way, it’s not something that should be left till your competitor steals your social networking thunder, not to mention your customers.
Is your social media in the right department?
Another important factor is to understand where social networking belongs in your business. Whilst at first glance it appears to belong to the IT department, nothing could really be further from the truth.
Social media is predominantly about attracting, maintaining and servicing new business. And those capabilities belong firmly in the marketing department.
So it’s important to make sure that whoever is responsible for your marketing understands social media and its role for your business.
And in the smallest business, that person will be you.
In addition to being a leading eBusiness educator to the smaller business sector, Craig Reardon is the founder and director of independent web services firm The E Team which was established to address the special website and web marketing needs of SMEs in Melbourne and beyond.