As a self-confessed social media fan-girl, I’m still surprised when I meet an indie biz owner who’s not tweeting, facebooking, or blogging.
It got me thinking, and so I put the question out there – “if you’re not on social media – why?”
The responses were really interesting – and not only that, but I kept seeing the same reasons over and over again. Today, I want to address some of these common misconceptions about why people avoid social media.
I don’t have the time
Yes, you do. Saying you don’t have the time for social media is like saying you don’t have the time to exercise, or do your taxes, or meditate – or any one of those other things that you know would be good for you.
The truth is, the ‘I don’t have time’ excuse is simply that – an excuse. When we use this excuse, what we’re really saying is ‘I don’t want to – because I don’t value this enough to give up something else I’m doing instead’ – even if this ‘something else’ is just watching TV (or, in my case, having my head stuck in the novel I’m currently addicted to).
Social media does not have to be time-consuming. Of course, if you let it, it can take over your life – but that’s within your control. You can schedule it in, just like any other meeting or activity, and set boundaries that way.
For example – to maintain an active Facebook Page, you really only have to visit once a day! Spend 10 minutes writing an update, responding to comments, and maybe networking on other people’s pages.
On twitter, set aside 5-10 minutes, three times a day, to get involved. And if you’ve got a smart-phone, even better! Next time you’re stuck in a queue, a waiting room, watching the kids play sport – pull out your phone and spend a little twitter-time.
I’m worried about my privacy
Privacy is a valid concern, and something that is rapidly being eroded in this digital age. However, you really don’t have to share much of your private information to get involved in social media. The most Facebook asks for is your name, e-mail (which they keep private) your date of birth and your gender. That’s it. It’s completely up to you whether you share anything else.
Twitter is even easier – you need to give them your e-mail – the rest can be anything you want!
So, all you really need to share is your name. And, to be honest – if you don’t want to share your name online, then why are you running a business?
If you walked into a brick-and-mortar store and asked to talk to the manager or owner, but they refused on the basis that they didn’t want to tell you their name, would you not be a little confused, and possibly even upset or angry? Would you wonder what they’re trying to hide?
Being authentic – a real person – is part of doing business. If you have a serious reason to keep your identity private, then of course I’m not going to tell you to splash it all over the internet. But at least a first name – or even a nom de plume – is a good idea. And no, of course you don’t have to share your home address or phone number (two things I never make public, myself, just because I prefer to work via e-mail – and some people might think that is a mistake on my part), but you do need to be open and honest about your business.
It doesn’t work, so why bother
It doesn’t work immediately.
I think a lot of people make the mistake of trying out social media for a week or two, only to give up in despair because ‘it’s not working’. Of course not! It takes time and patience to build relationships – just like in the offline world. And relationships are the core of social media.
When I interviewed Jessica Constable here a few weeks ago, she said something that has become my own personal business mantra:
It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
The same goes for social media. You need to give it time. But you need to be consistent, too.
Hopping on Facebook once a month is not going to grow your fan base. Only remembering to tweet sporadically isn’t either. It’s about creating, fostering and nurturing relationships, and that takes both time and effort.
This investment in my own business (time is money, after all) has been completely invaluable. For example, my zine, *bespoke* simply would not exist without twitter and facebook. It was created, made and sold via social media – which really, is just a fancy way of saying ‘word-of-mouth facilitated by the internet’.
It works, oh, it does.
I’m just talking to other businesses
I did an – admittedly unscientific – survey of my followers on twitter the other day, because I was curious about this.
I asked: “quick twitter survey, and I’d love a RT if you can spare it… who here is NOT on twitter for biz, but just for fun?”
I had 20 replies. 13 of those stated they were on twitter just for fun. And pretty much all of those who responded that they were there for business made the point that they were also there for fun.
You are not just talking to other business. Twitter probably has a higher proportion of business-people than facebook – but the thing about twitter is you choose who you follow and interact with. Facebook – well, think about everyone you know who’s on facebook. My guess is most of them are on there with their personal profile, and use it mostly for fun, and to keep up with their friends.
Oh, and another important point – people who run businesses buy stuff too.
Online friendships aren’t ‘real’ – why would I invest the time in them?
Wow, I have to really, really disagree with this one.
I have made some of the most wonderful friends ever through social media.
There’s a little saying that goes ‘facebook is where you keep in touch with the people you knew in high-school – twitter is where you connect with the people you wish you knew in high-school’
I talk to my online friends every day. My offline ones who aren’t on social media? Pretty rarely.
Social media allows you the freedom to make connections with your ‘right people’. The people who ‘get’ you – the people who know what it’s like to love the things you love, and to do the things you do.
In the ‘real world’, people might join clubs; they make new friends via old friends; they might randomly bump into someone one day and just hit it off.
It’s exactly the same online. The only difference is you build a relationship before meeting in person! Or, perhaps you never will – and that’s okay.
I don’t think that makes relationships any less ‘real’ or authentic. Yes, of course there is the rare person who pretends to be someone they’re not… but that happens offline too. Conmen and dishonest people have existed for millennia.
I’m not about to let that stop me from the potential to make lifelong friends and invaluable connections.
I would rather spend my time making more stuff, than wasting it on the internet
If you’re a crafter, artist, photographer – or any other sort of ‘maker‘, then there’s no getting around the fact that if you’re not making, you don’t have anything to sell!
However – you can make the most amazing widget in the universe, but if only you know about it, what’s the point?
Being in business means finding the right balance between working at your business and working on your business.
Marketing should be a central part of your business, because without it, you simply won’t have a business!
Personally, I spend at least – if not more – than half my time working on my business – marketing, planning… networking.
So, my answer to this would be that either one without the other won’t lead to a successful business, and that you need to both market and make.