Abandoned Social Media: When Nothing Is Better Than Something
We’ve seen it happen so many times. A new client comes in, excited about their shiny pretty new website and determined to create an online presence. We set up a blog and sparkly new social media accounts to match the new website, everything goes live, and everyone is happy.
Maybe they post on their blog once or twice. Maybe they update their Facebook page a few times. Maybe not even that much. I can go back to a disturbingly large percentage of the blogs and Facebook pages I’ve set up and find nothing but virtual tumbleweeds.
It’s easy to see how it can happen. You set something up with the best of intentions, but, especially if you own or work for a small business, time can get away from you. The project that you intended to devote time to regularly can get put on a perpetual backburner in favor of more pressing matters. No one is judging. Well, let me amend that – I’m not judging. Your potential customers are. That’s the point of this post.
One of my more well-worn spiels to clients is the “social media can be a great benefit, but only if you’re active on it, and abandoned social media looks worse than no social media at all” speech. Most clients agree and we move on, and they’re probably thinking that that won’t happen to them; that they’ll stay on top of it. And many do, and that’s terrific. But let’s talk about those who don’t.
What does it say to a potential customer when you have a blog that hasn’t been updated in months or years? Or a Facebook page that is similarly abandoned? When I say that abandoned social media is worse than no social media at all, I mean it literally. A website can be used as a virtual business card – if your business information doesn’t change frequently your website may be able to stay fairly static for long periods of time and retain its accuracy and relevance. Maybe your site hasn’t been updated in a year, but your mission statement, product offerings and business hours are all the same, so it doesn’t matter to a visitor how long it’s been since you tweaked it. They found what they were looking for.
Add a blog, though, or a Facebook page, and you’ve signed on for an entirely different animal. These media are meant to be active and dynamic. If I find a business that doesn’t have a Facebook page, I think “oh, they don’t really have an online presence.” Maybe I think that they’re missing out on opportunities, but the thought doesn’t reflect badly on the business. If, however, I find a Facebook page that has been abandoned, it gives an impression of carelessness and lack of follow-through. Don’t want that to happen? Great news: there are plenty of ways to prevent it!
Realism, Folks. Let’s Have Some.
First off, how do you avoid getting into that situation to begin with? The answer is simple – I’m not saying easy, just simple. Have a plan. If you want to start a new blog, a new Facebook page, a new Twitter account, or any combination and/or other social media outlet, you need to start off with a plan for utilizing it.
1. Know who is going to be responsible for keeping up with it. If this is an employee, make sure they understand that this is an important responsibility. If this is you, make sure that you realize that this is an important responsibility!
2. Know how often you’re going to blog/post/tweet/etc. You might not need a strict schedule, but you at least need a general idea. Failing to set yourself frequency goals could easily lead to the task being constantly pushed back.
3. Have at least some ideas about what you’re going to post. Read some articles to get inspiration – believe me, the articles are out there. Google “Facebook for business,” “blogging for business,” etc., and you’ll find a plethora of resources. There are even quite a few such articles in the archives of this blog! Having a few ideas jotted down to get you started will help you get past blank page syndrome.
4. Be realistic. This one is important. Are you going to keep up with your blog? Do you have the time and the motivation? If not, do you have an employee who does? If the answer is iffy, and/or if you’re having difficulty with the first three items on this list, you may want to reconsider. Either put some effort into stepping up your preparedness and motivation, or be realistic about the fact that now might not be the time for you to take on the responsibility of an online presence.
But I’ve Already Got Ghost Towns – What Do I Do?
If, despite all your best intentions, you’ve let your blog or social media gain tumbleweed status, don’t think that all is lost. You can, of course, decide that you’re ready to commit some resources to your online presence and that you’d like to get started blogging/posting/tweeting/pinning/etc. That’s great – your social media won’t be dusty and abandoned anymore!
However, maybe in your realism you’ve determined that it just isn’t going to happen, at least not now. In this case, the best thing to do is pack it up for now – you can always give it another go sometime down the line when you’ve got more resources to devote, but if that time isn’t anywhere in the foreseeable future, go ahead and take that “Blog” link off of your website. Delete the Facebook page if you’re never going to use it – that may seem drastic, but frequently a business’s Facebook page ranks almost as high as its webpage in search engine results, which means that even if it’s not linked to your website, people will find it.
Of course we think that being active online – even if you only choose a single social media outlet to focus on – is important, and beneficial. That’s always going to be our best recommendation. But for some businesses, it just isn’t going to happen. Realizing that you need to make a decision either to do social media or not (and have a plan if you do!) is important. Failure to make a decision is a decision in itself – and not one that will reflect well on your business.