The idea of establishing a social media presence can be an uncomfortable one for business owners. Several people have spoken with me about their mixed feelings as we worked together on the digital aspect of their business.
Three statements in particular stand out as many business owners have mentioned them to me. Considering the vastness and relative “newness” of social media, these fears are very common and completely understandable. Unfortunately, they can also prevent people from building a thriving online reputation and carving out a niche for themselves as experts in their field. It is said that the best way to overcome a fear is to face it.
Let us start with the first, predominant one.
I will feel exposed on social media
If the world is a huge place, then the world wide web seems to have no borders at all. Your post is out there for everyone to see, and who knows who exactly will see it and judge it – and by extension, judge you?
Other factors add fuel to this fear: not knowing what to post at all in the first place; how to use the “language” particular to a social media platform; the realisation that creating content for social media is far more time-consuming than viewing it; feeling dragged unwillingly into a spotlight with all eyes on you, much like holding a speech for the first time in a room full of people; negative comments from clients or spam from so-called trolls.
With this fear in mind, it will not be surprising if you approach social media thinking that it is a nuisance and necessary evil.
Getting started, as with so many things, is the most difficult part. Research, preparation and careful planning can alleviate much of this anxiety, all the more so if you turn the online launch of your business into a well-structured project and divide it into doable steps.
SMART goals (SMART standing for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely) can be a big help in such cases.
Much truth also lies in the saying that practice makes perfect. Once you have started with a specific plan in mind and posting becomes part of your routine, chances are that you will feel far more secure and less uncomfortable putting yourself out there.
People will ignore or laugh at my posts
Connected to the problem above is the worry of how other people will perceive you on the basis of your posts.
Especially when you are starting out and no seems to be noticing or engaging with your content, it is easy to feel discouraged, decide that social media is not working for you and end up deleting your profile. Furthermore, if you start comparing your posts with those of people who have a huge number of followers, you might buy into the mistaken impression of your posts being so unworthy of attention that people will ignore or laugh at them.
As mentioned before, there is a big difference between creating posts and reading them. At first sight, it seems that all you have to do is just type in some text, add an image and click on “Post”. At the very latest by now you become aware that there seem to be a million things to think of: wording of the text, choice of pictures, hashtags, timing, copyright, privacy regulations, and so on and so forth.
Consistency and knowing your readers are key. It is impossible to be everybody’s darling, so being specific about your audience and message is essential for your online marketing strategy. A social media channel has to be “fed” regularly with the kind of “food” your viewers would like to see. Thousands of followers and likes rarely show up overnight, and those who are impatient enough to buy followers will be punished sooner or later by the social media platform’s algorithm. Everyone on social media has had to post from scratch, grow their account strategically and be persistent to achieve the first results.
It’s not safe out there on the internet
If you read the news about data breaches and cyber-bullying, this fear is very important to address.
After all, who wants to be exposed to attacks on a personal and technical level?
Choosing strong passwords for your social media accounts (and accounts in general), changing them on a regular basis and storing them in a password manager is already a good step.
Coming to social media itself, the motto is to always think before you post. Posts can go viral in a way you do not want. Be picky about who you are following, who is following you and the invites you receive and send, and be careful not to share too much personal information about yourself.
Finally, behaving as professionally online as you do offline is a must. The remote and virtual nature of the internet can make people drop their inhibitions and express themselves in ways they would not in face-to-face life (for the most part).
I have spotted comments on LinkedIn escalating into shouting matches, complete with name-calling and insults. Your social media accounts and activities are meant for people to see. You are in control of curating your profiles, creating your content and putting your best foot forward. Knowing what you can and cannot control will help you deal with this fear and the other two above.
Fears about social media have a lot to do with being or not being in control
Once your content is out there on social media, it is natural to assume that you no longer have any control over it. While planning in advance is key, statistics on how your posts are doing, tools and feedback from your audience will help you make adjustments to your strategy. Examining the risks and benefits of social media also contributes to making you aware about how you and others are using social media.
What about you? Please share your social media fears in your comments!