Surviving and Thriving in the Age of Social Media, part two

In the first post of this series, we covered the rise of social media and it’s importance as a marketing tool for small businesses. However, more importantly, we also covered the pitfalls that abound when it comes to social media use. 

We learned that social media can be an uneasy bedfellow and downright dangerous if you don’t have some important protections in place to keep you focused on using these tools the right way to grow your business. 

So what to do about this wonderfully helpful, but dangerously distracting part of life in our modern age? 

Thankfully, there are a few simple, though not always easy, steps you can take to help foster a healthy relationship with social media. 

First, limit your time on social media. This is probably the most difficult, yet also the most important. 

We have a habit of “just checking” social media, even email, many, many times per day. Accordingly, the goal with limiting your time on social media should be to designate times in the day when it’s ok to check your Instagram feed and for how long. 

Maybe that’s your lunch break, or perhaps you set some strategic times like after a lunch or dinner rush. The beginning and end of the work day are both great times to tune in and see what kinds of customer interactions you’ve had over the past few hours. 

Regardless, the goal here is to be intentional with the time you dedicate to social media, rather than having it run rampant throughout your day, destroying your productivity and creativity. 

Second, consider delegating social media responsibility to someone else in your organization. 

That kind of delegation takes a lot of trust, but  it can work wonders when it comes to managing your social media presence and maintaining the integrity of your time and creativity. 

Delegating social media responsibility to someone else also adds an element of urgency, can foster a better sense of direction, and provides a layer of accountability to the process of managing your brands’ social media presence. 

Third, focus on your brand, not others. 

This is a tough one.

Spend your time on social media interacting with your customers and fans and managing your brand. Try not to spend much, if any, time at all looking at or scouring the pages of your competition. Concentrating on your brand will keep you focused, attentive to your clientele, and sane as you navigate the marketing world of social media. 

This will also naturally reduce your time spent on social media per day. 

Fourth, practice keeping a healthy distance, emotionally and psychologically, from social media. 

Social media is designed to keep us engaged and coming back. Its core purpose is to keep you sucked in as long as possible. 

That’s a bad thing on its own merits, but it can become a really huge problem if you’re having a bad day in real life or on social media. 

For example, if you’ve had a big fight with your significant other, a coworker, or anyone else close to you, maybe that’s not a good time to bury your mind in the endless universe of comparison and self loathing that social media can sometimes become. 

Furthermore, when you’ve received some negative feedback from a customer via social media, the best thing to do is to address it quickly and professionally and then walk away. 

It’s practically guaranteed, whether you realize it or not, that you’ll spend the next few minutes scouring your page for proof that what the customer in question said was wrong or even looking up competition to see what their practices and comments look like.

The truth is, as long as you’ve addressed the issue with the customer satisfactorily and have addressed any underlying problem in your operation, it’s best to leave well enough alone for a while as the sore spot from receiving criticism heals up. 

Social media has changed the landscape of marketing and customer interactions forever. There’s no stuffing it back into Pandora’s Box. 

Furthermore, as useful as these tools may be, they’ve been designed in such a way that they can quickly and easily become massive distractions and even productivity and creativity killers for business owners and managers alike. 

The key, then, is developing a plan and a strategy for managing these tools effectively and productively. This can be done by…

    ⁃    Setting boundaries for your social media time…

    ⁃    delegating social media responsibilities to someone else in your organization… 

    ⁃    and, practicing emotional and psychological distancing from social media. 

With these three steps, you’ll be well on your way to a successful and, dare I say, fruitful relationship with social media.