Image credit: planetlight from Flickr
As a small business owner, would you ever hire someone to impersonate you at a networking event? Of course you wouldn’t. No one else can duplicate your personality, your networking skills, and your interactions with others.
Hiring someone to talk to customers on your social networks is like hiring a virtual impersonator. Your online connections aren’t chatting with you; they’re interacting with someone who pretends to be you.Likewise, if someone responds to a blog post by leaving a comment, they’re reaching out for an interaction with the author. Asking someone else to leave a generic response shortchanges your reader. It also shortchanges you because you miss out on being the first point-of-contact with a lead.
In many cases, you can assess whether someone might become a promising lead after a quick Twitter conversation or during a back-and-forth in your blog’s comment section. It saves time to delegate those conversations, but some conversations are too important to hand off to someone else.
If a customer called and asked to speak to you on the phone, you’d immediately take the call. For small companies, blog comment outreach and social media outreach are the equivalents of these customer phone calls. In the early stages of your company’s blog or social network outreach attempts, blog post comments and social network responses won’t take up much of your time. You’re the right person to handle these interactions. Don’t pass them off to a third party.
It's Too Much Work! Surely There’s a Compromise.
Hiring a ghostwriter to draft blog posts for you, write social media posts in line with your marketing strategy, and curate content for your business - all of these moves are smart small business blogging strategies. As long as you thoroughly vet what’s posted on your company’s behalf, and the posts serve a marketing purpose for you, it’s great to delegate these front-end tasks. You should never, however, delegate the follow-ups with leads and customers that are generated by those front-end tasks.
Let’s break small business blogging and social media down into what you can delegate and what you shouldn’t delegate.
Good Things to Delegate:
- Topic creation
- Blog post writing and editing
- Social media post writing and bulk uploading
- Unique content pieces—ideation and creation
- Content curation—ideas for what to share on your social networks
- Analysis—how your blog posts and social media posts perform
Bad Things to Delegate:
- All blog comments
- Social media customer interactions, replies, retweets, likes, and favorites
- Final approval of blog and social media posts
You should have a strong hand in approving what’s published by your organization, and you should personally respond to your blog post comments. You should also visit your social networks regularly, responding to comments and making crucial decisions like who to follow; what to share, retweet, or favorite; and whether to continue with a current posting strategy or pivot to something else.
How Can This Take up Less of My Time?
By taking upfront content creation off of your plate, you’re already saving a significant amount of time. To save time on blog comment and social media interactions, try these strategies to make yourself more efficient:
Blog Comment Digests
Enable WordPress or other blogging platforms to send emails to you whenever you receive a blog comment. In many cases, you can reply to comments using email or your blog service’s mobile app. Just be sure that you don’t reply immediately every time someone comments – that could seriously disrupt your workday. Set aside time in the afternoon or during your lunch break to reply to blog comments.
To keep your inbox clear, use a program like IFTTT to automatically send blog comment notifications to a separate email folder or send blog comments to Evernote.
If your blog receives too many comments for individual replies, you can ask your blog management service to prepare a list of the most important comments, based on your criteria, and have them delivered to your email account on a regular basis. Then, you can decide which ones to reply to and which ones to disregard after looking through potential leads.
Social Media Filtering
Tools like Hootsuite can filter your social network streams to make them more manageable for you. For example, you can create separate streams for comments, replies, retweets, mentions, hashtags, and other ways that customers might contact you. Then, instead of combing through your entire social network’s feed, you can look at only selected elements.
Different social networks offer tools for adding more filters to your feeds. Check out my post about creating Twitter lists to dedicate more time to your most important followers.
The Bottom Line
If a customer visited your business or called your company and asked to speak to you, you wouldn’t delegate that conversation to someone else. You’d offer a personal response.
When someone comments on your blog posts or responds to your social media posts, a customer has asked to speak to you. Don’t pass that conversation off to someone else.
I'm happy to help you create content on the front end by pitching blog post topics, drafting content, and creating social media snippets for your blog posts. I'll advise you about making blog comment and social media responses easier, but I'll leave the networking to you—just as I won't go to one of your chamber of commerce meeting disguised as you.