It's probably safe to assume that most Social Media Today readers have a fairly strong grasp on social media. Contributors give advice on the best things to post, the hidden features of all the best social media services, how to get more engagement out of followers - all very important topics written from interesting points of view. And yet sometimes those of us who while away our lives on social media sites forget that other people don't know as much about the very basic foundation of these services. We'll tell them to construct the perfect Facebook poll to see what their followers are thinking, and they'll have no idea how to even make a poll to begin with! There are things we have to remember, as business advisers, social media managers, and PR reps, when dealing with new businesses trying to feel their way into a whole new world of marketing.
1. Be honest, always.
You are the expert. You are the one they are (hopefully) paying for an insight into something they know little about. That means you have to do more than just push them into Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Sometimes a particular social service won't fit well with the business model - a local tire store, for instance, probably doesn't need a Twitter feed that's updated every couple of hours. As important as I believe social media is for a business's success, not every business can benefit from a presence on every single social site. So it's up to you, oh wise social media guru, to determine what will work best and give your clients an honest appraisal of what you think they should do, and why.
2. Remember that everyone is NOT on the same level as you are.
It's very, very easy to forget that not everyone fully comprehends the ins and outs of social media, especially when you constantly surround yourself with people that do. But there are a lot of new business owners who have used sites like Facebook for only a short period of time, and only for themselves. They might not even realize a business page is different from a personal page! When you first meet, ask them how acquainted they are with the service they want to utilize. If they seem bored about the basics, then move onto the more advanced stuff. But don't be surprised if they have no idea how to even begin making a profile for their company.
3. Stay up to date, so they don't have to.
This can be tricky because the world o' social media upgrades and moves quickly. For a while, Pinterest was all anyone could talk about and there are still rumblings about the service here and there. A lot of new business owners thus wonder if they should use something like Pinterest, simply because there was such a buzz for the site. It's up to you to figure out who actually uses these sites, how demographics are shifting, and what is and is not allowed. Policies change, rules are updated, grey areas are clarified - reading through new privacy policies may not be the most glamorous part of your job, but it's something you have to do in order to protect yourself and your business.
Fair warning: I'm going to end this post with a plug. But it's for a free service from my own company, and one I am very proud of as it helps new businesses figure out how to use these great social sites. MyCorp Social is a step-by-step instructional tool meant to help businesses get started on the right foot. Normally MyCorp bundles this with our incorporation packages, but I really enjoy writing for the Social Media Today community, and figured this would be a small way to give back for all of the excellent content. So if you're just starting to explore the world of social media, or you know a new business owner who is wondering if they need to get on 'the MySpace', check out our little social media instruction booklet. And if you have any feedback, we'd love to hear it!