Throwing Out the Rules for Social Media

Is everything that we’ve come to know about managing social media for your small business wrong? A couple of articles in the last week or so seem to be calling common practices into question. Is it time to throw out the rules for social media? Some industry leaders have either been playing devil’s advocate or are ready to try a different approach.

First, let’s look at some of the rules. 

  1. Only be on social media platforms you can manage perfectly. Outstanding unique content, perfect images, perfect copy, etc.
  2. You must carefully determine your target market and which social media platforms they are using. Those are the only ones you should focus on.
  3. Never put up static “set it and forget it” content on social media. It will appear you don’t care about users of that platform.

You’ve probably heard some of these before. Hell, I’ve said some of these before. Right here on this blog. Because these are common best practices. 

The Shotgun Approach

jay baer biggest lie

But what if they’re wrong. What if a better approach is to get your message out in front of as many eyeballs as possible. That was Jay Baer’s argument in a recent presentation and Medium post. Instead focusing your energy intensely on a couple of social media platforms, be in as many places as possible. 

Jay suggests that potential impressions is a useless metric. What matters is actual impressions. How many people are actually seeing your content. His article on Medium uses the example of Twitter.

Facebook is another great example. You may have worked hard to build up a large number of people liking your business page (potential impressions) but Facebook holds the keys to how many of those people will actually see your posts. Now to reach most of your followers, you will have to pay.

But what if you twisted it around. Instead of thinking about impressions and reach on one platform, consider those metrics on all of your platforms. This turns the rules for social media upside down. 

If you push your message to more platforms and encourage your followers to join you on multiple platforms, you have a much better chance of reaching them somewhere. Maybe today they will be on Twitter at exactly the right moment to see your message. Maybe next time they see a post of yours on LinkedIn. And the next time they see you on Meerkat. 

The more places you push your message, the better chance you have of connecting.

Hanging a Virtual Shingle

Okay, you have your business name and you are registering social media accounts. Register for all of them! But that doesn’t mean you have to use all of them. Lara Eastburn at We Are Social Media suggests hanging a virtual shingle on the platforms you don’t currently use pointing people back to the ones you are currently using. Brilliant! 

With this method, when new social media platforms come along, you go ahead and create an account. Even if you don’t plan to use it just yet. Maybe you never will. And maybe a year from now it’ll be bigger than Facebook. And you will have your username reserved and be ready to go. 

Again, you’ll notice this totally goes against the rules for social media. It has been hammered into our heads not to sign up for social media platforms we aren’t participating in regularly. 

95 percent of millennials expect businesses to have a facebook page

Let’s use Facebook as an example again. 95% of Millennials expect businesses to have a Facebook presence. Wow. 

So indeed, your business needs to be on Facebook. Let’s say you are a restaurant. You post a couple of times a day on Instagram and send out an email newsletter once a week announcing upcoming specials. 

Definitely have a Facebook page with your hours, menu, address, directions, etc. But you can also create a post telling people that you’re active on Instagram and can notify them of upcoming specials by email. And pin it to the top of your profile. Then anyone coming by will see this front and center. 

And if you send your Instagram posts to Facebook automatically, you can mostly ignore it. But make sure you have your account set to notify you of all comments, messages, etc. to an email address of someone prepared to answer them promptly. 

Completely confused now? Don’t be! The average small business owner should probably just keep on doing what they are doing if they are following current best practices. Meanwhile, it’s up to marketers to start experimenting with the shotgun approach. If it works for us, you will be hearing much more about it in the future.

The virtual shingle, however, is an excellent idea that you should go ahead and do. 

Questions? Ask away in the comments!

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Laura Nunemaker

15+ years experience in email marketing, social media, and content development. Former retail bakery owner. Digital nomad. Loves cycling & scuba diving. Vegan.