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stop sucking at social mediaThis morning on Twitter, I noticed several local business accounts I’ve recently followed tweeting things like this:

[insert name here] posted a new photo to Facebook.

For that particular account, it happened five or six times.

Several other accounts auto-tweeted a status update that got cut off, and trailed an ellipsis with a link to that post on Facebook.

This happens a lot, especially with newer-to-social-media businesses. I could not keep my mouth shut — because it’s annoying to see, and because it’s bad practice for online business — so I said something.

I feel bad for new-to-social businesses who have been given some bad ‘shortcut’ advice.

Nobody in your target market is going to click your Facebook link if they are currently on Twitter. If someone’s going to click a link you posted, it’ll be something they’re genuinely curious about. If they want to see what you’re doing on Facebook, they’ll go find you on Facebook.

Nobody on Twitter wants to know you posted a photo to Facebook. If you want us to see the photo, post it to Twitter so we can see it in our tweet stream.

It’s not good business practice to post the same exact update to Twitter and Facebook, or to Twitter and LinkedIn, or to Facebook and Google+, or any combination of those things. Exceptions include new post links (where the post is on your actual website), or situations where your business needs to push a very specific one-sentence message to every social platform they have — for instance, emergency services or weather warnings.

You may disagree.

Albert has a point — time and cash are your two most valuable and most finite assets as a small business.

However, it does not take that much time to plan a few things to say on each platform you occupy, and you can even schedule some of those posts. Tweetdeck handles scheduling for tweets, Facebook has a native schedule utility on business pages, and you can also use something like HootSuite or Buffer if you want to have it all in one place.

Ask yourself: why do you have a Twitter and a Facebook? Because someone told you that you should? Or because you are willing to use each platform the way they work best?

My point this morning on Twitter is that it’s disingenuous to post the same thing everywhere. It makes your business look lazy, clueless, or both.

Albert took it personally when I said this to him, which I hadn’t intended. However, I am not going to be precious with you about potential stupidity in your business practices. The moment that I — or anyone else — is precious with your business or your brand, you’re no longer being told the truth.

Don’t be a lazy, clueless business. Be an engaged, interested, interesting business.

Post things that are relevant. What is relevant? Only you, your target market, and your business knows what that is.

Engage in conversations when you can. Don’t butt in and be a weirdo, but DO notice what your people talk about. If they’re really your people, you’ll have something useful, interesting, or relevant to say too.

Be a lifelong learner. Try out what you learn, kick the tires, see if it works. If it doesn’t work, throw it away and try something else until you find your sweet spot.

You don’t need to be a rockstar at social. You just need to be present.

Which, in the end, is both more difficult than you expected and easier than you were told.

Throw away what doesn’t work. Do more of what does. Repeat.

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I’ve been self-employed for seven years.

Business models are sexy.For most of those years, I have been a web designer.

I added business coaching, marketing strategy, and general business consulting to my repertoire after I had spent about four years designing websites for online entrepreneurs.

It was becoming easier and easier for me to see the patterns and models they followed, and I became very adept at bringing the disparate-feeling pieces of their brands together into something that made a hell of a lot more sense.

Last year on April 11th, I announced that I was no longer taking design clients.

Effectively, I quit web design.

I ignored the handful of inquiries that trickled in throughout the spring and summer, stopped using my branded business Facebook page, and settled into a routine of rest, renewal, and (because I can’t help myself) tried on a new business model.

Like I described in my last post here, I also experimented with aspects of the gift economy, and brought on four new coaching clients using that strategy.

Sometime around the end of November, I was beginning to realize that soon, I’d be coming out of my cocoon. Soon, whatever was gestating and growing in me would be ready for the world, although I still had no idea what that might be.

My close friend and occasional freelancer-for-hire Noëlle Anthony suggested to me that we start our own design and development business.

At first, I was hesitant. Was this really what I was willing to put my effort into? Was this what I wanted to spend time building and improving, spend my days and evenings marketing, and spend my waking hours strategizing about? Was this the work I wanted to do for the next ten years?

These are my reasons for going ahead with this new venture, and taking this familiar yet still scary-as-fuck risk:

1. I will not do this alone.
I’ve always been an I’ll-do-it-myself kind of girl.

The websites I’ve built thus far are a testament to the fact that I have always handled the design, code, and everything in between on my own. I register and host my own domains. I set up email, install WordPress, write CSS, and hack the other code to bend it to my will. I project manage and answer inquiries and write up contracts and quotes.

NO MORE. Metanoia is not just me — it’s three of us. My mother is project managing and client-talking-to and answering inquiries. Noëlle is writing custom code and making WordPress dance much more complex steps than I ever could.

In short, I’ve learned that we are stronger together.

2. I will not say yes to everyone.
In the past, my fears around not making enough money led me to say yes to projects that would have been better served by another designer, another agency, or perhaps nobody at all.

During these last nine months, I have learned not to be afraid of having nothing. I have always had enough. My family has always had enough. The struggle and challenge of accepting what we have right now, and learning to be good stewards of it, were worth the risk I took of not bringing in much money since April.

My fears of scarcity will no longer run the show, but my trust in abundance will help me make good decisions for all of us.

3. I will build this to last.
One thing that always characterized my business-building actions up until now is suddenness.

I am great at having a brilliant idea and then BAM, there it is. While there is nothing wrong with this — perfect is the enemy of good, after all — it’s bad when you don’t do any long-term planning to go along with the expectations that you’ll need to iterate once you begin with a bang.

My intent is to build a business that will be a great experience for our clients, and a great place to work for my present team and the future people who will work with us.

We’re going to build websites. It’s not rocket science. It’s not particularly innovative.

What is innovative, however, is the way we will go about it.

We would love to hear about your project. Send us an email so we can start a conversation about how we can make your business better.

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In our industry — website design and development — it’s rare to hear of someone doing business entirely using gift economy principles.

Gifts!!Recently, I read this article by Adrian Hoppel, and it started a chain reaction in my thoughts about gift economy and how to do business — sustainable business — in this way.

Since last summer I have already put two of my services, coaching and website reviews, on offer using gift economy principles. Eventually, I believe that we may try something like that here at Metanoia Digital, for the simple fact that there are so many entrepreneurs who need a website to make more money so they can pay for a website that will make them more money.

Which reminds me of the car-job-car conundrum I faced when I was freshly sixteen and had my first driver’s license: I needed a job to afford a car, but I needed a car to get to the job I applied for, but I couldn’t afford a car until I had a job, and on and on into frustrating infinity.

One last interesting article, written by the author of Sacred Economics (the man whose fault it is that I am thinking these thoughts to begin with), is about sustainable business decisions — not just for small service-based businesses, but for big businesses that have large economic and environmental impact on the earth with their choices in manufacturing, distribution, employment, and on and on.

For me, the takeaway is this: do business in ways that align with your values.

Instead of paying lip service to what you believe is valuable, important, and worthy, take risks that make the world a better place.

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