Hello, outside world. Are you receiving me?

We’re all familiar with the existential question about the tree falling in the woods. If there was no-one there to hear it fall, did it make a sound?

The same can be said of communication – if no-one engaged with or responded to your message, was it received?

Send and receive

Communication is a two-way street, and why would you not want it to be? Firing message after message out into the ether might tick the box that you have communicated, but successful business communication is a dialogue, not a monologue. The alternative is like a phone call with no-one on the other end of the line – pointless and, arguably, a waste of time.

I was recently saddened to come across a social media business account which told its many followers, in no uncertain terms, that if they posted anything to the page it would be removed. Naturally, this resulted in two things – a flurry of (negative) responses that were posted to the page faster than the page admin could remove them, and a lot of bad feeling that will now be expressed in other forums outside of the control or visibility of the organisation.

Whatever the intentions of the organisation, I can’t help feeling that they have entirely missed the point of social media – and to their own cost.

Valuable feedback

I’m going to be completely straight with you – most business social media accounts will experience unwelcome, and often unfounded, negative responses at some point. But do you really want to miss out on the valuable contribution of 99% of your page’s followers for the sake of the rogue 1%?

After all, these people are engaged with your business. They are interested in what you have to say, they have bought in to your products and services, and their recommendations will encourage others to do the same. Their feedback will help you to align your business offering to demand, understand why your customers value your products and services, and help you to identify niches that you can fill. They are, in short, a self-appointed focus group. What’s not to love?

Less is more

There’s no denying that scheduling and managing social media accounts takes time, which is why I always recommend the ‘less is more’ approach. Don’t take on more than you can manage, and focus your efforts on where your current and potential customers are. Far better to have just one social media account managed really well, than half a dozen of them in various stages of abandonment because you just can’t keep up.

No-one ever set up a business in order to be a slave to social media, so make sure that any channels you use fit in with the daily demands of running your business.

Remember to make the most of tools that will save you time. Simple things like scheduling your social media posts in advance, and limiting automatic notifications so that you aren’t being constantly interrupted, can make a big difference.

Listen and learn

Inviting feedback and conversations from your target audience is enlightening and empowering for your business – and social media is a great place to start. Remember that communication is just as much about listening as talking. As a primary school teacher of mine once said, you have two ears and one mouth for a reason!

Your customers will tell you how to make your business great – if only you listen to them.

Take care and stay strong.