Social Media for Business – Why I am embarrassed for 99.9% of you…


My kids get it. They don’t think about it; they don’t hire gurus to guide them through it; they don’t contrive anything about it; and… they can sniff out anything contrived in an instant.

It’s social media, and it’s not mystical or complicated; and it especially doesn’t require any real expertise.

Of course, if social media is so easy, why do nearly all small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) really suck at Facebook and Twitter? Three reasons: they overthink it; they hire gurus to guide them through it; and what they post is often so contrived I want to laugh and cry at the same time.

It’s time to stop the madness. It’s time to either crap or get off the pot with your lame social media attempts. If you’re ready, I have only two quick tests for the content you should post to your social media accounts:

Test 1: Will it inform or entertain?

In other words, will it be interesting to anyone? More importantly, will it be interesting to your customers and prospective customers?

If what you’re about to post neither informs me nor entertains me, then don’t post it. Here are a couple of quick examples of posts that would pass Test 1:

  • A young couple posts a picture of their new baby to Facebook while Tweeting “It’s a Boy!!!” (This passes the test because it’s information that their followers and friends likely want to know.)
  • A teenager posts a Vine (6-second video) to Twitter showing his friend eating a jalapeño pepper and then gagging. (This passes the test because it’s likely entertaining to his friends… not to mention entertaining to me.)

Here are two actual SMB social media posts from this morning that do not pass Test 1:

  • Happy Friday!
  • Come in to Sport Honda today for a test drive.

These two posts are just downright embarrassing. They are pitiful. It hurt me to even type those asinine posts, because they are so uninformative and utterly unentertaining.

But what about Google?

(Quick aside for all the SEO “experts” reading this article)

I’m not naïve. I understand search engines look for “social clues” as a small part of the algorithm they use when deciding how to rank your website on relevant searches. But you’re naïve if you think the gaming, cheating, conniving scheme your social media guru is executing on your behalf has any long-term SEO value. It doesn’t. Google did not become Google by allowing any con jobs to go on for very long.

(Plus, without getting too technical, the social clues Google looks for include interactions with your social media content. No one is interacting with your “Happy Friday!” or “Come in for a test drive” spam.)

Let’s agree to just stop it. You look silly doing it and you’re alienating the few true fans you have.

Test 2: Is this me?

Some people find news stories about Bangladesh to be informative. Some people find pictures of cats to be entertaining. Does this mean your SMB should post a story about a pet store in Narayanganj complete with lots of pictures of playful kitties?

Probably not. That is, unless, you happen to own a pet store.

For the second test, you need to look at your entertaining and/or informative post and ask “Is this me?” Does this content represent who we are and (more importantly) what our customers want from us? If the answer is no, then don’t post it – the content failed Test 2.

That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less. (Sorry, I know you wish it was more complicated – and I certainly know the social media “experts” will disagree with me – but there’s really no magic or mystery here.)

So what do we post?

If after Test 1 and Test 2 you are left with nothing to post, then I suggest you shut down your social media accounts. Your business has nothing to offer the social media world. Stick to fixing air conditioners or whatever it is you do. Just make sure you do those things right, and that you always treat your customers like the valued human beings they are. If you do this, perhaps they will post nice (and interesting) things about you.

As I wrote two years ago, Facebook is a waste of time for 99.9% of businesses… and it still is; you just don’t want to believe it. If you’re adamant about staying in the social world and creating genuine interactions with your customers, then at least apply my two tests to your content and save the rest of us from the constant stream of ridiculous spam spewing from the average SMB account today.


UPDATE: April 2015

With Facebook’s new Hello app, it’s now time for anyone selling B2C to have a Facebook account that contains accurate information (especially your phone number). The app is basically a dialer (just for Android right now) that allows users to block numbers (some automatically, like known telemarketers) and to also see who is calling them, even if they don’t have the number saved in their contacts.

For businesses, the app has a keyword search feature that will likely mean most active Facebook users will utilize Hello when searching for something you offer. This means you should also ensure your Facebook page contains information about what you do indeed offer (much like your Google+ profile). Keyword searches will likely run the gamut from “plumber” to “used car dealer” – basically any business that previously had little to offer any “fans” they might have accumulated with an expensive Facebook management strategy.