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‘When you start a business, advisors will tell you to use your time to build up a presence on social media,’ says regular QUEST contributor, Steve Bulleyment, director of specialist auto locksmith company Car Key Man. ‘After all, it’s free advertising. But are you ready to waste all that time? And are you ready to become public property?’ This month, Steve examines the truth about social media in business …
I’ve been round the block and back again. At my peak, I posted on five networks, seven days a week. It was exhausting. It was difficult to fit in the car keys! So, after that experience, here’s my take on using social media in business.
Let’s look at the popular networks …
Love it or hate it, Facebook has done it right. I joined in 2008 and created a business page in 2010. Eight years ago, I had 1,000 followers. If I posted, nearly everyone would see it. It worked amazingly well.
Then, once Facebook hooked us all in, they changed the algorithm. There was public outcry! As I write this, I have 5,500 followers, but if I post, only a handful see it. There’s only a tiny reach now, unless you pay for adverts.
Does Facebook advertising work?
Yes, but only if the account is handled correctly. It’s possible to get great leads, and customers. However, if Facebook is part of your business plan, don’t think you’ll get much free advertising – you’ll need deep pockets.
So, what other platforms can you use?
We started on Twitter in 2012 and I wasted many hours building up a following and hoping for a mention. It’s great for hearing about breaking news.
When the London Bridge terror attacks happened a few years ago, my family and I were two bridges away. Twitter gave us constant updates, much faster than any news channel.
However, will Twitter help with your business? I believe it takes an enormous amount of time to make an impact. If you have a local, ‘people’ business like we do, you’re wasting your time.
Car Key Man YouTube Channel
This is my favourite platform, but should you use it for business?
If you are showing off what you do, it’s amazing. Coffee shops, vegan cafes and craft sites like Etsy – if it’s eye catching it’s a good way to get yourself out there. However, as a plumber, locksmith or electrician, you’ll need to be creative. It can be a real effort to find things to post. Also, you can’t ‘link out’. Instagram doesn’t want you to leave. If you want people to click a link to your website or shop, it’s not possible, unless you pay for adverts.
So should you use it for business? Well, it can work, but it’s also great way to waste time when you should be working.
If you’re expecting to see professional posts from experts in business you might be disappointed. Although LinkedIn is a great way to connect, it’s turning into a professional Facebook – from moaning about Brexit to asking which photo to use on a profile picture. Then there are the get-rich-quick schemes: online ‘entrepreneurs’ in fast cars.
LinkedIn is a good way to find people and then connect. If you can ignore all the ‘noise’, it’s a useful tool.
Read Steve’s regularly updated blog at:
My tips for social media in business
Budget your time
‘Time is your most precious commodity. You can make more money, but you can’t make more time.’ Jim Rohn
To grow your business, you’ll have lots of boring jobs to do. Paperwork, quotes, tax and – sometimes – the actual work! Social media is always more interesting. Social networks are designed to be addictive, to keep you on a site. If you’re posting or following just one hour a day, on three separate platforms, that’s 21 hours a week.
Think about that: nearly one day a week online, every week. That’s 45 days every year! What else can you do with that time to grow your business? The more people you follow, the more time you’ll need.
Steve’s business, the Car Key Man, is a specialist auto locksmith company covering Lincolnshire. Launching in 2004, Steve spotted an opportunity to solve the problem of replacing lost and stolen car keys. The company now offers workshop facilities as well as a mobile service. Recognising the needs of concerned vehicle owners, it offers free consultations to find an affordable solution to the growing number of car key problems.
Social networks reward consistency. It’s no use posting five times in one week then not touching it for a month. Plan out your time, schedule posts if possible, cover the times you’re on holiday. Try not to start something you can’t keep going.
Are you always online?
The worst thing about social media for business is how you handle the attention. If you give your customers a messaging service to use, they willmessage you. Most likely it will be during social time, evenings and weekends. Are you prepared to give up your family time to message people back?
There’s nothing more annoying to a customer than a business that doesn’t reply instantly. You are there for them and them only!
In the early days, an enquiry is very exciting. At our peak, we were getting 20 a day, even on a Sunday. Every customer will probably ask five questions. So, on your day off, you could have 100 questions! Is that what you want? I didn’t. I also didn’t want to be a slave to my phone, reacting to every ping or buzz alert. To keep your sanity, you need to manage this. If your profile grows, the questions will follow, so think about this at the beginning.
Trolls, reviews and abuse
It’s going to happen – from posting stupid comments, to leaving bad reviews.
We have two bad reviews on Google. In both, we’re publicly shamed because we didn’t call someone back. We didn’t meet the customer or see their car key. We didn’t sell them anything. And yet complete strangers trashed us online. At the time, I was gutted – we’d never had a bad review. So be prepared for when anonymous Fattypants87 leaves you a negative comment or trashes a post. It’s not personal, but it feels like it.
PROS AND CONS
- Social media can raise your online profile – free of charge.
- It’s quick and very easy to set up and start posting on all networks.
- If you put in the time, it can lead to enquiries, and then to paid work.
- It can take over your life. You’ll need to manage comments, reviews and questions.
- You must be consistent in order to build up authority.
- It can be expensive. Experts will be happy to help you – and take your money!
Do you have time to get social?
Are you ready?
It can be great to share who you are, and what your business does, but hopefully you’ll see there’s a price to pay, both in time and money. It’s easy to fool yourself that you’re busy working, when you’re just hiding from all those other jobs that need to be done.
Good luck. I’ll look out for you online …
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