One of the challenges of using social media marketing in a small business is that it’s incredibly hard to separate the business from the personal. Of course, we all need to get away from our business every now and then and (shock, horror!) have a life outside work, but this can be easier said than done. My solution is to accept this and make the best of it while also keeping my sanity intact.
Take Facebook. In theory we should be able to keep our business activity on our Facebook page and our friends and family on our personal timeline. But it won’t be long before the business spills over into the personal. Because in small business we do business with individuals, and the individual is to be found on their personal timeline, not their Facebook page.
I’ve pretty much given up on keeping my timeline personal, not just because it’s virtually impossible, but because it’s such a fabulous networking tool. And it’s free, too.
If you’re thinking that you can’t promote your business on your personal Facebook timeline you’d be right, but there’s a lot more to marketing than pushing products. So much of networking is about getting to know, like and trust other people – and the best place on Facebook to do this is your Facebook timeline. That way, the next time someone asks one of your friends “Do you know a good accountant?” you’ll not only be top of their mind, they’ll know where to find you quickly. Assuming you’re an accountant, obviously.
This is why I wince when I see one of those “Right, I’m culling my Facebook friends down to those people that are my REAL friends” style updates. It’s like standing up at a networking event and saying “Anyone who hasn’t got to know me yet can now leave, because I don’t want to see you any more”. To make it even worse, the person doing the culling then invites the unlucky people to like their Facebook page.
So these people who aren’t good enough to be your friends are now welcome to like your Facebook page where they can be on the receiving end of your business promotions? Yep, that’s really going to make them feel loved! In fact if they already like your page they’ll probably unlike it immediately.
But what if they are people who have never interacted with you? What do you have to lose? Well social media is a busy place. Maybe they have been quietly noticing you out of the corner of their eye while dealing with some other family crisis and were going to drop you a message tomorrow as soon as they finished being a shoulder for their sister to cry on. Maybe your posts haven’t appeared in their Facebook feed for a while, so they haven’t interacted because they can’t see what you’ve been posting unless they make a special point of searching for you. It’s going to be a bit of a slap in the face to find they’ve been unfriended before they even got a chance to make contact.
If you don’t stay open to people you’re cutting off your networking possibilities before they’ve even happened. And dare I say it, if does sound quite selfish from the other side: “Anyone who isn’t paying attention to me can’t be in my gang any more!”
So don’t do Facebook culls if you’re in business. And if you must unfriend people, please don’t announce it to all your friends first.
That doesn’t mean you should accept friend requests from all and sundry, because lets face it their are plenty of creeps on the Internet and you’re under no obligation to friend them.
However, you may find one day that your Facebook feed is full of posts that you have no interest in. Just because you’re interested in people business-wise, you may have no interest in what they get up to outside work. Maybe they are line dancing champions but country music brings you out in a rash. What do you do then? Well, you can unfollow them but still stay friends, or you can add them to a list.
Look to the bottom-left of your Facebook timeline and under ‘Friends’, click ‘More’. Then you can set up different lists for family, friends, work or whatever you like.
To unfollow them but stay friends, go to your friend’s Facebook timeline and click on the ‘follow’ button.
OK, what about this situation in reverse e.g. you’re planning a party for Auntie Maud’s birthday and you need to simultaneously compare notes with your cousins AND not bore the pants off your business colleagues? Set up a list as above, then before you post and update, look for the button that says ‘public’. Click on it and you’ll get a a drop-down where you can select your list, like this –
Easy. And absolutely no friends need be culled.