Business Unusual: More on Social Media

Jill Mckenna:
Hi, I’m Jill McKenna. I am the campaign marketing manager at Ruby, and today I’m so delighted to be speaking with Melissa Barker. Melissa is a business coach and social media consultant who has been helping businesses with marketing and sales strategy for over a decade. She’s a trailblazer in the field of social media and the author of the first college textbook. She’s literally written the book on social media marketing. The book is called, Social Media Marketing: A Strategic Approach, and it’s going into its third edition. Thanks for joining us, Melissa.

Melissa:
Thank you so much for having me.

Jill Mckenna:
Well, how do you feel right now about gated versus non-gated content? So meaning, when we ask somebody to do something, we asked them to fill out a form or information before they get to the item that we would like to them to have or experience, how are you seeing companies use gated content well, or is it a time to maybe not be using gated content?

Melissa:
Great question. I think that gated content still plays a very, very important role right now. I think that as long as you are delivering enough free information through your social channels and still making sure that you are having some non gated things, you can drive people to the gated content very comfortably, but no, do not throw out data content right now because we still need leads and we still need a way to stay in contact, and if the content is timely enough and high value enough, you’re still going to see people inputting their information to access it.

Jill Mckenna:
Great. And that is the exact thing I wanted to ask you about. What is the line right now between tasteful social media communication and needful communication? Because businesses, we obviously need to keep people employed. That’s really important to us, that we have employment and that people are solid and grounded. So how can we create mindful communication right now that is not grabby or needy or pushy and how can we walk that line mindfully?

Melissa:
Yeah, I think that’s a great question and a complex question, but I can offer a couple of ideas here. I think the first and foremost is to continue to acknowledge what’s happening in the world, so if we suddenly pretend that this isn’t happening, that people aren’t at home, that people aren’t losing their jobs in our communications, and it’s lots of, “Join us now,” with exclamation points and not having that acknowledgement, is problematic. We don’t need to sit in it, but first acknowledging it in your communications, and tone is everything right now. And I think really being mindful of making the offers that you have really come from that place of service and offering kindness in your calls.

Melissa:
And there’s a way to do that, I think, that is very tasteful, by really focusing on creating safety and being a voice in the community. Also, acknowledging the wonderful things that your employees are doing. So maybe having a little bit more content that is company culture than you normally would, and those sorts of things. Taking photos of the masks that your employees have made and sharing those on social media, and so you’re still aware and present of what is happening, but you can still be talking about your products, talking about your services and selling. I think you can do both, but it’s more important than ever that we show our human side right now in order to remain tasteful.

Jill Mckenna:
You’ve mentioned a couple of times coming from a place of service and how this is really a time to refresh that instinct. Do you have anything else to say about how we can come from a place of service or remind ourselves that our work should be fulfilling that role?

Melissa:
Yeah, absolutely, and so I’ve said this a few times, just [inaudible 00:03:37] anytime I’ve talked to people about social media or social media marketing, is that there’s two things we should always be aiming to do, and that is educating and inspiring. So everything we create should do one or both of those things, and I think that that is how you returned to a place of service, is when the focus is on, how can I give more? And that giving mentality, whether that’s of information, of inspiration, of talking about those intangibles and those benefits that you can really provide to people beyond the physical product, beyond the actual service. And I think that’s how we return is when we always have those two things in mind, education and inspiration, [inaudible 00:04:16] the content that we create, that we are servicing our community in a really big way.

Jill Mckenna:
Great. I know that in our instinct to try and create some levity and some joy, in light of current events, people are doing giveaways. Do you have any ideas or strategies for the way to think about conducting giveaways right now so that we can engage and welcome people and have fun with it, but also be aware and acknowledge that we’re aware of what’s going on?

Melissa:
Yeah. I think having the focus of those giveaways and contests be about drawing up positive stories is a really nice way. The traditional social media giveaway, like comment share, and you’re asking for tags of people and it’s not really adding any community content, but again, coming back to the origins of social media, social media has always been about connecting people. Businesses happened to insert themselves, and so we have to play by those rules, and so I think a really important way to utilize these contests and giveaways is to ask for community story. So instead of commenting and just tagging someone they know, maybe they write a story about why that person should win the giveaway or why this person did something really wonderful in the community, but elicit stories, elicit positive stories as a part of your contest, and that, I think, is really when you’re going to get people to engage in a really authentic way, and also create some joy within the community.

Jill Mckenna:
Speaking of joy, is it a good time for companies to maybe think about entering in to other channels that they haven’t pursued before? I am a person who has found tremendous joy enjoying TikTok during this pandemic time? Is it a good time for companies to think about avenues that they haven’t used before, like Instagram or even YouTube or Pinterest or anything else?

Melissa:
I would say that depends on a few factors. So, the first factor is what is your bandwidth realistically? If you’re a solo business owner who is struggling already with juggling everything, then I would say no, but I do think that if you have the bandwidth, it is a great time to test new avenues, but I would say do it in a very systematic way, not just hopping on and creating profiles on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, if you haven’t previously had them, but start with one, and start by observing what is being done in there before creating, so really observing what is going well. Look at other business owners, see what they’re doing and then mirror the things that you think are really effective. So yes, I think that this is a great time to experiment and A/B test in all sorts of ways, if there is that bandwidth, and if there’s a systematic approach, figure out what are your metrics before you join and what are you hoping to get out of those channels before you begin experimenting.

Jill Mckenna:
Are there platforms for automatically posting or things like Hootsuite that people could be using right now, and if they’re new to it, are there best practices that they should be mindful of during this time?

Melissa:
Yeah. So I think it’s worth noting that some of the platforms have scheduling capabilities already built-in natively. Facebook is a great example. There are definitely a whole host of tools, but to tell you the truth, a lot of those tools negatively impact the algorithm to a degree, and when you’re posting from a third-party service, it’s just not surfaced as often, but if you are someone who is stretched, bandwidth wise, Hootsuite is still my favorite go-to and I think has a lot of the integrations and even the free version, there’s a lot of opportunities there, but I think the biggest thing is to create a schedule for yourself and then either post on that schedule or use one of those tools. For sure.

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