SB: Many small businesses opt for a Facebook page or other social media activity instead of a website. Is it always necessary to have both?
Eliza: This is very case sensitive. If you can sell and service your customers directly from a social platform effectively, the need for a website may well be redundant. This is especially the case now with the advent of 'click to buy' on Instagram.
The questions you have to ask yourself are: “Can you provide enough information for your customers to understand what it is you do via social media alone?” And then: “Can you convert a customer, should you have the opportunity, via social media alone?”
Social media and a website work very effectively together and it should make you much more discoverable. You quite literally have a greater share of online space.
A website allows you to tell stories and provide details of your business that can be difficult to communicate through social, while social is a very effective way to drive people to your site to read those stories.
SB: Changes to the Facebook algorithm, and others, have dramatically reduced how much content from brand or business pages is actually seen, while not everyone can afford to pay to promote everything they post. How can small businesses improve the visibility of their social media content so that it appears in enough news feeds to be worthwhile?
Eliza: Facebook has shifted its algorithm to preference content that inspires genuine human connections, rather than content that's just passively consumed.
Think of pieces that connect people, that drive conversations and encourage real engagement. Always remember who you're talking to. It's not about what you want to say, but what your audience wants to hear (obviously through the lens of your brand).
Video is still king as well, if you can manage it. It's been very successful for Vinomofo both organically and through paid. Video can be expensive to produce though, so ensure every piece you create is thoughtful and helpful. Always have an objective: Will this educate, inspire, entertain or add value? And then measure its success.
More than anything, social is about trying everything and seeing what sticks. Sometimes you just can't anticipate what will have traction. If a piece of content performs well right out of the gate (quick likes, comments, better than average reach), that's when you put spend behind it to amplify it further.
And think about what you're paying for. Paying to send traffic to a third-party site or to promote something that isn't on brand isn't ideal. Just start small and see what happens.
SB: Not all social media interactions with a business are positive. How can a time-strapped small business avoid reputational damage when angry complaints are made publicly in social?
Eliza: The most important thing you can do is acknowledge the complaint, so anyone who stumbles upon the post can see that you have actioned it.
Ensure the customer feels heard; make the response personal. If you have information on hand to help, provide that.
But usually we would ask the commenter to send a private message with more details so we can follow up immediately for them. Here's an example:
The truth is, a complaint is an opportunity to show off your exceptional customer service and care.
If you manage a genuine complaint well, you can transform a detractor into an advocate, along with any of their friends who may have been following along.
And while trolls do exist, their complaints are usually offensive or unfounded. You should still acknowledge the complaint and try to move them to a private conversation. If they are persistent, sometimes it's best to just stop the communication. Trolls are usually quite obvious, and you'll find community members will self-moderate.