In today’s world, I find it interesting that social media has become prevalent in most small businesses. For me, this ever-changing medium is intimidating and trying to keep up with it can feel like a full-time job – especially for someone like myself who has often stumbled with understanding how it all works; and the new learning tools haven’t helped!

My attempts to navigate this world have made me feel like a really small fish in a very big pond. I often wonder:  do I really need these platforms or am I just following a trend?! We have all been told that it is essential to manage all or at least the top six social media platforms. Here is my challenge with this concept.  Since I have neither the time nor expertise to manage all of these accounts, what is the best course of action for someone in my position ( social media inept and exhausted) to successfully tackle Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram, and now Fancy? Oh, let’s not forget, I also need an engagement strategy for each platform. Yikes!

So, on my quest to figure out the best social media strategy for each of my businesses, Sparrow Retail Consultants and Scottsdale Business Community Project, this is what I learned:

Choose one platform: Find a social media platform that suits your style and create a strategy that works with and not against your busy schedule.
Hire an expert: Don’t try and be the jack of all trades. Instead of trying to become the expert, if you have the budget, hire one. Remember your audience wants to hear your voice. Make sure you agree with the message that is delivered in your name.
Cut yourself a break: You don’t have to know how to do it all, but you should be able to make it easy for yourself and your clients to get everything they need.
If you choose to use more than one medium, don’t tackle it all in one day. Use a collaborative tool like Hootsuite or sproutsocial and turn off your alerts.
Don’t take yourself so seriously: I love this excerpt from my favorite blog: “It really is true that the more time you spend on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc., the more you get sucked in, and after thousands of hours in online communities, one day it hits you: You started counting retweets and you started worrying about your engagement score on Facebook. Somehow, somewhere, you got … serious!” via CopyBlogger.
It’s okay to make mistakes: I have heard about bloggers being ridiculed for grammatical errors! We all need to get over ourselves.  The next time you worry about making a mistake or find one in someone else’s work, think of this quote: “When you aim for perfection, you discover it’s a moving target,” Fisher, Geoffrey F.
Stop competing with your friends: Are your friends more popular than you, do they have hundreds of followers and friends and you have little or none?  This is not a competition! The point of social media is to connect and engage your clients. Focus on businesses that interact with you. It’s true that quantity does not equal the best quality.
Don’t waste your time:  Make sure social media is appropriate for your business- Mashable released an article about 10 successful small businesses that do not use social media.
Know when to shut it off: Your business won’t fail if you take a two week break. Learn to manage your time correctly. Offline is always more important than online! Don’t miss life’s most important moment in your quest to memorializing events for your social pages.

I cannot deny that these media platforms are here to stay and can be a significant factor in the growth and success of any business. Well, I guess it’s time to take my own advice. Here’s to meeting you online!