Spotlight on Social Media
What is Boosting?
For some people, the ads on social media are an interruption, but those people are no longer in the majority. Increasingly, social media is the new Yellow Pages. Oh, I forget, some of you have no idea what the Yellow Pages were, much less what a Yellow Pages ad did.
Here's a picture of some Yellow Pages from Wikipedia to remind you. They were a tool to find businesses. The Yellow Pages were replaced by search engines, but social media has surpassed even the search engines, especially when people are shopping, and ads can help them find you. Boosting is what Facebook calls their ads. Other social channels call it other things. You can even boost a Zillow ad! Here's how it works.
How's Your Reach?
Boosting and other social media promotions are based on reach. Reach is the magic number of people who see what you post. You may think when you post something, it's out there for the world to see - and they could see it if they went through the effort to find it, but the tiny piece of humanity that actually sees a post is actually minuscule for most of us.
If you post a picture of your pet on Facebook and no one but your mother likes it, it's not that there is something wrong with your dog/cat/salamander or that none of your friends pay any attention to you. It's all about the algorithms. If your friends see your post, I assure you, most of them will like it, but according to the type of post it is, the time of day it's posted and what mood the Facebook computer is in, you could either show up nowhere or everywhere.
Facebook and her sister social channels take everything you post and run it through their algorithms. The only place you can be sure something will show up is on your own profile. The rest is laginappe. While this is certainly true on your personal profile, it's even more apparent on your business page. Business pages are where many posts go to die. The social channels depend on your ad money to survive, so they aren't going to do you the favor of sharing your posts, unless it helps their profit margin - or you're very social media savvy and use all the tricks.
So, Should You Have a Business Page/Profile?
The short answer is this - if you're in business, you need a business page/profile on every social channel. That's a whole different blog for another time, but yes you do need a business profile, just as surely as you need a business card and a website. You can share posts from your business profile to your personal profile, but you wouldn't want to share in the other direction.
Like a business card or a website, a business page/profile is a place to show who you are professionally, but unlike the card, it's free and you never run out. No matter how someone finds out about your business, you want them to be able to put your business name into the search bar of their social media channel and see your business page/profile. And please, please, please - do not set up a business page/profile and then never ever post to it. That's worse than not having one at all.
For some businesses, it's enough to have a sharp looking page/profile with regular posts. Regular can be as infrequently as once a month, but regular posting sends the message you're operating a business in a professional manner. This type of page/profile serves as an online business card and you want it to be there should anyone come looking.
Don't think that if you don't have a page on a certain social channel people will just look for you somewhere else. Newsflash, people are lazy and easily distracted. If you aren't there, then within seconds, they will forget who they were looking for and perhaps why. Very few of them will search any further and pretty much all of them will be shown ads from companies that will sell them what they want, making them forget they were looking for you in the first place.
However, most people, who take the time to create a business page/profile, expect to get something more out of it. They start wondering why they aren't getting any attention and the short answer is they aren't paying for it. Money is not the only thing that will get you some attention, but it is the quickest.
Back to Reach
There are two kinds of reach: Organic reach and Paid Reach. Organic reach you earn on your own. With every social media account I manage, one of the first things I want is their reach. With your personal pages, it's easy. The people within your reach are called friends/followers/connections and the social channel is fairly assertive in their efforts to get you to grow your circle. (However, there are still a whole lot of people who manage to ignore all invitations.)
Organic reach on your business page/profile is a little more challenging. With Facebook, you can invite all your personal friends to like your business page and if you have other people who play a role on your page, they can invite their friends, too, but after that you have to get pretty creative to find others to join your organic reach. Tagging people in posts and pictures and following their business pages are some of the tools you can use to grow your reach, but it's slow going. Other channels have other methods for growing your tribe, but growth never happens by itself. You have to invest time, effort and perhaps some money to have a following on social media.
Paid Reach is what you get with boosting, promotions, events and ads. You get to define the area you want to target and the people you'd like to reach, but you still have to wait for the social channel to do what they will at their own pace and even more important, how far your ad will go still depends on your organic reach and on those algorithms. The good news is that promotions on social media are pretty cheap. For just a few dollars, you can reach hundreds of people. The real trick is getting a click from them when you do reach them and a one-time ad isn't worth it. You have to have a plan.