by Steff Green
You’ve been trashed on Twitter, flummoxed on Facebook and riled up by Redditors. Your Facebook page has stopped appearing in people’s feeds and your Pinterest pinnings are delivering paltry traffic. Instagram’s changed their Terms of Service and now your entire social media campaign is up a certain creek without a certain paddling apparatus.
Social Media definitely has advantages for startups – it’s a great way to spread the word about your business and connect with other thought leaders and their networks. But – unlike your blog or website – you don’t control your social media profiles. If a social media site you use decides to make changes, you can end up with half the reach you once had.
And while social media allows fans and followers to gush about how awesome you are, it also allows negative press to be indiscriminately promoted. While connecting with fans is definitely a good thing, sometimes your social media presence allows trolls and disgruntled clients to air their issues in public.
Often those issues are legitimate, and can easily be sorted out with a positive result for everybody. But some startups experience malicious sabotage attempts and hate-filled messages aired publicly for all their readers to see. A social media witch-hunt can ruin a startup’s reputation – and often over something that would’ve been happily sorted out in private.
So what do you do if your Social Media sites are screwing you over, either with endless changes that destroy the effectiveness of your campaigns, or by allowing and promoting malicious behavior? Here are my social media strategies for such situations:
Easier said than done, of course. But when something bad happens to your social media profile, it’s not the time to dash around in circles with your head in your hands yelling about the unfairness of the universe.
Panicking doesn’t help the situation. All it does is make you more stressed out. You’re so busy worrying about what has already happened and what you can’t change, that you close your mind to thinking up solutions and new creative ideas.
Take a few deep breaths, shut down your computer, and get off the Internet. Go outside, watch a movie, and spend some time with your family. Come back to the problem with fresh eyes, and you’ll find you’ll be able to think more clearly about potential solutions.
Focus on what YOU Control
The truth is that you have very little control over your social media pages. The companies that own these pages make changes all the time. They aren’t making these changes to benefit you – they are making changes to increase their revenue.
- You can’t control how many people see your updates, the layout and features of your page (beyond basic branding such as avatars and banners) and you can’t control how people can share and save your content.
- You can’t control the search engines, which can increase or decrease the value of links and profiles on social media sites.
- You can’t control who is linking to you, so if poor-quality sites are giving you links, your search engine rankings might be adversely affected.
- You can’t control who is posting about you and what they are posting. You cannot usually get posts taken down from other social media pages – even if they are attacking your blog.
What CAN you control? Well, you can control the quality of your own site. Make sure whatever happens to your social media pages, you continue to produce high quality, engaging content on a regular basis. It’s this quality content that readers come back for, and unlike social media sites, you are the King on your own blog.
You can control your responses. If people are saying awful things about your business online, don’t sink to their level by attempting to address their attacks. If they post on your own page, it can be useful to address their concerns without engaging them in verbal sparring. But it’s usually better to just avoid answering at all.
However, legitimate customers / clients / readers who raise concerns in a polite manner, do deserve an answer to their inquiries, even if they’ve chosen to contact you on your social media page instead of via email. The key is to remain polite and professional. It helps to have a site FAQ or a set of policies drawn up you can refer inquiries to.
You can control your behavior online, so look over recent interactions and make sure you acted with integrity and transparency. Always be prepared to change what you’re doing if it doesn’t mesh with your own goals and ethics.
And lastly, you can control your creative endeavors. So instead of worrying about what has happened, focus on adding more value to your site and your products. Perhaps you can create an info-product, or maybe you have something arty you can sell. Or maybe it’s time you started that consulting business? Diversify your own offerings and you will find yourself much less reliant on social media for readers and fans.
With every change on a social media site, comes new ways of leveraging that change to benefit your business. It may take a bit of experimentation, but by trying different techniques and reading updates about social media techniques, you should be able to quickly regain traction lost through social media updates.
- Your frequency of updates
- The content of updates – sometimes longer / shorter updates appear more often
- Balance or original contents vs. promoting links from other bloggers
- Partnering with other startups / bloggers / social media pages
- Creating separate accounts for different startups/aspects of your business
- Ways of interacting with followers and fans
- Using add-ons and plugins to increase that value of your pages
- Changing the scope of your content strategy.
Think like a Business Owner
It’s important to view all social media profiles in a strictly business mindset. Look at your ROI (return on investment) for every social media profile – maybe a profile used to have a high ROI, but after a recent change, it’s dropped significantly. Is it still worthwhile maintaining your profile?
Crunch the numbers – if you’re seeing adequate return for the time spent updating and your visitors are growing steadily, then your social media strategy is worthwhile. But if you’re not seeing a return for your time, than maybe it’s time you stopped updating that profile and moved on to something else.
If something goes wrong with your social pages, the first thing you should do – after you’ve stopped panicking – is sit down and come up with a plan of attack.
Here are some ideas to get you thinking:
- Is there another social media platform that offers similar services in a better format?
- Can you offer the same type of interaction on your own website?
Create Blog Policies or FAQ Pages
Sometimes, you mess up. You say the wrong thing online and end up provoking people. Sometimes a problem comes up and you don’t know how to deal with it – and with social media, all your mistakes are being aired in public.
It might be time to create some policies for your business blog and social media pages. Having policies in place means that when people ask questions or try to engage in abusive debates, you can simply point them toward your policy pages.
On your policy / FAQ pages, talk about:
- Which comments will be accepted, and which will be deleted or moderated.
- How best to contact you with customer service inquiries.
- How you deal with affiliate links and sponsored content.
- Any other questions that frequently come up.
Have You Been Screwed Over By Social Media?
I sure have. The latest Facebook updates have more than halved the amount of people who see my updates. Even if I pay to promote an update, it still doesn’t guarantee all my fans will see it. Facebook has gone from being my third-biggest traffic source to my twentieth, and I’m not the only blogger affected. It’s not surprising that many brands and bloggers are leaving Facebook for other sites – such as Instagram and Pinterest.
I’ve also had criticisms of my content and rude accusations about my life aired in public over social media. It isn’t nice, but it definitely comes with the territory when you become increasingly visible online. Fortunately, I was able to deal with these situations without any adverse long-term consequences.
You could, of course, start your OWN social media company (which is definitely something you could try. Mine would be CupcakeGram – where every time someone liked you, a cupcake would instantly appear beside your computer). But most of us are stuck working within the framework of whatever social media sites are popular within our niches, and these can change at any minute.
While social media can be a blessing to startups, it is also a curse. Between malicious messages and platform changes, your social media presence can fluctuate rapidly, and there’s usually nothing you can do about it. I hope I’ve showed you some ways you can cope with the endless yoyo of social media updates.
Has social media ever screwed you over? What did you do about it? Tell us in the comments section below.
Steff Green is a writer, blogger and illustrator currently living on a slice of rural paradise in New Zealand. She writes blogging, search engine optimization and Email Marketing tips at SEO Training.