Each week as Smallbizlady, I conduct interviews with small business experts on my weekly Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. This is excerpted from my #SmallBizChat interview @Lenawest, Lena is a social media locksmith who helps dynamic women business owners untangle “social media spaghetti.” She makes social media easy-to-use, manageable and worthwhile. She also a columnist and blogger for Entrepreneur Magazine and Fast Company. For more information her website http://www.xynoMedia.com
Smallbizlady: Why does social media become such a black hole of time for so many people?
Lena West: Because for the most part, it’s easy to use. Notice I didn’t say easy to use effectively, I said, easy to use. And, the tools are mostly intuitive. Click here, type that, etc. And, people mistakenly equate easy-to-use with knowing what and why to do something and then it’s all downhill from there. It’s hour after hour of trying to get it right — to no avail.
Smallbizlady: Why is the source of where business owners get their social media information so critical to success with social media?
Lena West: Because everyone has an agenda. And, I don’t mean that in a bad way. I have an agenda, too. I am passionate about helping women CEO’s. So every word out of my mouth is going to be in favor of them and my agenda is to help them remove the “craziness” from social media and start using it as a marketing tool that gets results. So, women CEO’s need to know where they’re getting their information. Is it from someone who’s just learning what it means to be a business owner or is it from a 12-year business veteran like myself?Understand to whom you’re listening and make sure you’re on their agenda.
Smallbizlady: You talk a lot about people tapping into a “why” when they are using social media to market their businesses, how does that help them save time?
Lena West: Once you figure out what your company needs to get from the blogosphere, you can figure out how and what to contribute. It’s like being in a relationship with a guy. You can’t figure out what you want from him until you figure out where you’re going in life overall. Otherwise you’re just hanging around watching each other breathe and there’s no way that’s productive.
Smallbizlady: Social media has its own vocabulary, is it important for entrepreneurs to understand the lingo – even minimally?
Lena West: Absolutely, it is. Anyone who knows me knows that I do NOT believe women CEO’s should spend all their time thinking about and learning social media “stuff”. But, just like you need to know how to read a profit and loss statment without being a CPA and sniff out a crappy contract without being a lawyer — you need to understand the basics of social media. And, if you don’t know, ASK. Educate yourself so people can’t give you the ear hustle about social media, even if they try.
Smallbizlady: How can business owners resist the urge to join everything and accept everybody?
Lena West: They can treat it like they do everything else — have rules. Whether we know it or want to admit it or not, we all have rules. Rules for how we allow people to speak to us. Rules for how we allow people to treat us. Same deal with social media and social networking. You need to have rules. I get invites to join other social networks all the time, but I ignore them. I know where my market is and that’s what I care about. What do I care if my friends are on some other social network? My market’s on Facebook and so that’s where I put my energy. It’s OK to delete and ignore requests that don’t meet your business needs.
Smallbizlady: What’s the quickest, most effective way for CEOs to evaluate social media consultants?
Lena West: I’ve met so many “so called” social media consultants. They have glossy websites and you have a conversation with them and they’re managing PPC campaigns or running website stats. Those are all honorable jobs, but if you’re a social media consultant, don’t you think you should be working with social media tools? The bottom line is this: unless someone makes the lion’s share of their livelihood providing social media services to clients, they’re a hobbyist. If they’re not writing and PAID to speak about social media topics, they’re a hobbyist. Again, know your information sources!
Smallbizlady: How can we make sure that we’re being effective with our social media work – what metrics should we measure, etc?
Lena West: This greatly depends on the business owner’s goal. If you are using social media to learn more about your market, then you should be measuring how your products and services are resonating with your market (one way to do this by asking and keeping track of the answers you get). If you’re measuring blog post comments or some other metric, you’re not connecting the metric back to your original goal.
Smallbizlady: Many business owners now have less staff and thus less time for marketing, What is your Social Media Auto Pilot Program?
Lena West: This is a program that I’m really proud of. Women Business Owners love it. They get to work with me to figure out the big picture and then our team of VA’s execute the day-to-day details. Many of our clients don’t have the time, interest or inclination to get deeply involved with social media and so based on a proprietary process we’ve developed we do everything for them yet 100% of the content comes from THEM, not us. Clients love it. You can read more about it here: http://ow.ly/pSjU
Smallbizlady: What do you think is next for social media?
Lena West: What’s immediately next is more adoption and understanding — and WAY more women CEO’s releasing the fear and confusion energy surrounding social media, getting the expert help they need and stepping up to claim what was ALWAYS ours — word of mouth.
Smallbizlady: How should people approach social media?
Lena West: I place a HUGE amount of importance on personal responsibility. I believe that you should do what you say and mean what you say. I’m not perfect, but I strive for excellence. And, I believe that social media, by virtue of the medium, is making more people accountable. If you’re not who you say you are in this day and age, you’re in for it. I LOVE LOVE that!
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For more tips on starting or growing your small business subscribe to Melinda Emerson’s blog at www.succeedasyourownboss.com