Does Your Biz Maintain Social Business Hours?

Big Ben London

Small business owners don’t have a lot of time. Now, along comes the 24/7 media – the social media – and it clogs up even more of that precious time small business owners don’t  have. Should you check your social networks and respond immediately? Should your life be filled with alerts/beeps from your phone at all times of the day and night? Oh! That is a terrible thought. If your business provides services that your customers cannot normally survive without – power company, medical services, transport services… you may be a 24/7 business already, but what about other small business? Should a florist set their alerts so they can answer the questions about the best flowers for a graduation party at midnight? You may not need to maintain a 24/7 presence, and you can maintain a social business presence that is best suited to you and your customers. Do not get distracted by the pressure of a real-time world and be transparent and let your customers know when they can expect engagement or response.

Large enterprises should definitely consider the real-time nature of their customer interactions in the social media and expand their service footprint. But, for small business I think that customers understand that all business cannot be a round-the-clock business. Here are some tools and tips to set times for your social media interactions with customers.

  1. Listening :
    • Google Alerts: Setup Google alerts for your business name , your product names and your competitors.
    • Set up your email program so these alerts get labeled and go to a particular folder in your email program and you don’t have to see them every time you check email.
    • Use Postling to get alerts from Twitter delivered to you in your inbox once a day. The basic account is free and includes alerts from Twitter, Facebook, your Yelp page, and many other social networks and content sites. (Note: If you have not already done so check if your business is on Yelp and claim the page)
    • If you are a business like a restaurant, you may want to set alerts so you know if anyone is mentioning that they are coming into your restaurant. An experience of being greeted offline from an online mention is great. A local DC restaurant Co-Co Sala does a fabulous job of this, as I have been told by friends who tweeted and then visited the restaurant.
  2. Engaging :
    • Allocate some time during your day to login to your Postling Dashboard and check the mentions of your business, reviews and comments and respond to them.
      • These tasks should not take more than 10-15 minutes (unless you are Ashton Kutcher)
        1. Reply to people who message you either Directly (called a DM or @) messaged you and/or asked you a question.
        2. Thank folks who have posted a review for your business on a review site or mentioned you in a blog post.
    • Check your email folder that you setup to filter Google alerts for any mentions that you need to act on.
  3. Contributing:
    • By this time you may be familiar with the tools and should have setup your Twitter account and a Facebook Page. A note about Facebook Pages: you can make your Facebook profile for friends and connections and make it as private as you want and create a Page for your Business and make it as Public as you want. Example – Network Solutions had a Facebook Page where we encourage small business folks to talk about business.
    • Here are some content ideas that you can start with sharing to your network
      • Share 3 things on a weekly basis
        • Link to an interesting article you have read and can be useful to others
        • Link to a cause that you are passionate about
        • Retweet an interesting tweet from your networks
        • Post an exciting news about your business

What is your strategy for social business hours? Any examples you want to share on small businesses doing a good job on engaging with customers using social media channels?

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About Shashi Bellamkonda

Shashi Bellamkonda is a Speaker and Digital Marketing Expert and he is the Vice President, Digital Marketing at The Bozzuto Group whose mission statement is " the best real estate company in America." Bellamkonda is also an Adjunct faculty member of Georgetown University. After several years of enriching experience in the hospitality industry which also included being a chef, Shashi transformed his hobby of computers and technology to his career working in areas like Customer service, Program Management, Digital marketing and Social Media.