Thoughts On Social Media For Business Owners

Is this a closeup of brain cells in 2018?

If you’re a business owner or freelancer and you’re ignoring all social media platforms, it’s going to be hard to survive. (Not impossible, but very difficult.) Like it or not, a strong online presence is necessary for your company. 89% of consumers do online research before buying a product or booking a service. You can’t ignore that number.

My company website has great SEO and I keep the site updated, but one of my goals for this year has been to improve the Allison Barbera Beauty Instagram, our two Facebook pages and this here blog. I’ve been taking classes and consulted with some great companies who specialize in digital marketing, because there is only so much this tech-challenged boss can figure out on her own.

I understand why there is an emphasis on digital marketing and specifically on social media because it can be a great way to reach a lot of people, but if I’m being real with you, I don’t love it.

Let me explain. I’m approaching this all from a small business owner standpoint, so some of this doesn’t apply to some people/companies you may follow (and this post has nothing to do with people’s personal accounts). I’m all for social media as a marketing tool used to promote books, shows, podcasts, tours, etc. My issue is with our society’s focus on social media and the deception of some people’s professional online presence.

I’ve got two main issues with social media, and I am ready to vent.

What About The Business? I am not negating the importance of social media, but I think some people forget that you also have to be good at running your business. A ton of Facebook likes or a beautifully curated Instagram feed doesn’t mean a business provides great services and/or products. A person or company could have 21 million followers but if they can’t answer an email and make it to client appointments on time, are they worth hiring? (By the way, you know a lot of people buy followers, comments and likes, right? Keep that in mind before you get impressed by what you see.) I would love to see some of the focus shifted back to how good a company is at the work they do instead of how pretty their feed is or how much they tweet.

The cool thing about online presence for a business is that you can make it as good as you have time (or money) for. But that’s not the entirety of a business. How is everything inside the business? Is it organized? Are there systems? Are employees being paid on time? Are taxes being done? Are client calls and emails responded to promptly? Are followups sent? How are those invoices coming along? Has an attorney reviewed all legal documents? What are they doing to improve the business? Are there plans for growth? I don’t care if a Facebook post has 1.3 million likes–if a business is not doing what people hire them to do, they are not a good business. Put that in your feed and Like it.

Are you spending hours putting filters on your photos instead of taking care of essential business tasks? If so, you, it’s time to rethink your priorities. #youcantonlydothefunstuff

Show Me Your Credentials. There are social media influencers in all industries. If someone is true working professional and expert in their field, then more power to them! My problem is with those–and we see this a ton in the beauty industry–who pass themselves off as professionals when they are not. Speaking again about the beauty industry, I’ve seen influencers who do hair/makeup on themselves that I know would look horrible in person. But through the magic of filters and retouching, they make it look good (or what many of their followers consider to be good). They often have no training, no professional license and no experience doing hair or makeup on anyone else. But they can Facetune the hell out of their photos and videos, then buy some followers to get their fan base going. New followers see these people with a huge amount of followers, so they assume the influencer knows what they are doing/talking about. But so often, they don’t and people think that what they are seeing/watching/reading is expert advice. Nope! They’ve been duped.

In the beauty industry, it’s easy to find out if someone is a real professional, like Lisa Eldridge, or what my father would call a “phoney baloney.” Check their website portfolio and/or IMDB page and you’ll figure it out.

In case you’re wondering, I’m not jealous or hating on anyone. Even with a team of 17 people, my company still turns down work weekly. We get that work from a decade of providing excellent service that has lead to five star reviews and a pipeline of client referrals that #cantstopwontstop. We have fantastic SEO, thanks in part to my website creators but also because people click on our site after putting in certain search terms and find what they need, which is key for high rankings in a Google search. So I’m not sitting over here, upset that my company isn’t getting business but my competitors with better social media are. We are doing very well, and I do consistently post on Instagram, Facebook and right here, dawg.

The thing is, it really doesn’t matter that I think too much emphasis is put on social media. I would never hurt my company by being a dinosaur and refusing to utilize social media. I’ll continue to post consistently and try to stay on top of things. I’m aware of what I could be doing better, which I will continue to try to improve. But if I have one hour to work on something, I am answering current and potential clients before I post a story on Instagram. Because if I don’t answer that new potential client then, but I post a story then answer the client hours later when I have time again, they very well may have booked with another company. (This could be specific to my industry, as a bride is 8x more likely to book wedding services with a vendor who responds within 15 minutes than one who responds four hours later, but I’ve found it to be the case with corporate and commercial inquiries too.)

You get this, or you’re under 35.

I don’t care what anyone says–I’m not willing to give up decent chunks of revenue and hurt our reputation as the most responsive beauty services company in RI because there might be 300 people out there who want to view a behind the scenes story. I will get them their story later, after actual real time clients have been responded to. My clients come first, but I don’t ignore social media. I prioritize clients and time sensitive issues, but it would be ridiculous to use that as a reason to ignore the social media platforms my client base uses.

Likes, follows, re-tweets, etc. are great, because they give you exposure. They certainly may evolve into clients/customers, and my company has benefited from that. All I’m saying is please don’t equate pretty pictures, likes or follows with expertise, excellent service or high quality products. Anyone with the knowledge or budget to pay a good social media company can make it look like they do well or know what they are talking about. But a true pro will sniff them out, and an annoyed pro will write a blog post about it…

There are companies who do a fantastic job running their company and their social media and to them, I give mad props. That’s an impressive accomplishment and one day in the near future I hope I’ll have the budget for a social media coordinator so that AB Beauty can knock it out of the park there too. But we will continue to provide excellent service not only the day of a job but before and after the services have been performed. Maybe we won’t have 100,000 followers, but if my team is happy, the business is growing and clients are still taking the time to leave us 5 star reviews, what does it matter?

I had to write about this because I have both heard about and experienced lackluster service from businesses who have beautiful and consistent social media. (I’m talking within and outside of the beauty industry.) As an entrepreneur and as a consumer, I’m not impressed by a person or company’s social media game if they can’t answer an email, return a call or provide great service. You can filter the hell out of that Instagram post, but if you dropped the ball on a time sensitive the project I hired you for but I saw two Facebook posts and an Instagram story while you seemingly ignored my question, you’re dead to me. (I know posts can be scheduled so it doesn’t mean someone is actively ignoring me, but it can feel that way.)

I’ve always felt I had a lot in common with Don Vito.

I want to be clear that I’m not knocking companies who provide social media services. I know a few who are awesome at what they do, and I recognize that social media has an important place in a small business’s marketing plan. I’m just saying, let’s not forget that a beautiful feed doesn’t mean a business is good, and a lot of followers doesn’t mean an influencer is an expert.

And with that, my vent is over…for now.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

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