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Social Media for Business: Dealing with a Web Awash in Sex, Food, Selfies and Cats

Amanda Clark

We social media marketers like to talk about the various ways in which businesses can — and should — use social media to attract attention, and engage with consumers and clients. That’s all well and good, but if you’re a small business owner, you might remain a little skeptical. Your skepticism is not just understandable, but justified. After all, in an Internet gone wild with food pics and selfies, with cat memes and runaway sex appeal, is it really all that believable that your company could make a name for itself?

Honestly, it’s an uphill battle. The Web is, indeed, rife with distractions, and very few businesses are as innately flashy, gimmicky or attention-grabbing as the social media trends we listed above. With that said, there are absolutely some strategies that business owners can employ as they seek to distinguish themselves through social media. 

If You Can't Beat 'Em...

Do you remember some months back when the “Harlem Shake” music video was the biggest, most ubiquitous thing on the Internet? Everyone was talking about it, everyone was posting it, everyone was parodying it — and, wonder of wonders, the video started breaking Internet sharing records left and right. Some businesses simply resigned to the fact that they could never even come close to matching “Harlem Shake” in terms of total social media volume. But others were more proactive, coming up with their own “Harlem Shake” videos, seizing the trend and using it to boost their own social media endeavors.

That’s a pretty good approach, actually: Rather than allow yourself to be buried under the latest trends, why not grab ahold of them? Selfies are all the rage right now, so why not have some of your team members post their own selfies — perhaps humorous ones — and share them on Facebook and Instagram? Show a personal, relatable, human and fun side of your business. In short: Be creative in using current social media trends to your advantage.

[caption id="attachment_10035" "aligncenter" width="434"]Harlem-Shake-YouTube Remember when "The Harlem Shake" videos were everywhere?[/caption]

Bring Some Panache

More broadly, it’s important to always keep in mind just how flashy and gimmicky social media can be. Selfies may not always be in style, but something equally trendy will come along to replace them. That’s just the way social media works.

All of that to say, your business cannot afford to have a social media presence that is in any way lackluster or boring. You may not wish to jump onto the selfies bandwagon, or to come up with your own music videos or cat memes, and that’s perfectly fine. You cannot afford to neglect attention-grabbing imagery and content-rich posts, however. Remember what you’re competing against, and ensure that your blog entries and status updates are, if not as flashy as selfies and cat memes, at least on the same basic plane, offering something colorful to grab readers’ attention.

Make it Worthwhile

A final consideration: Why do so many people share cat memes, music videos and sexy photos? Well, because they genuinely want to. You may not be able to generate business-related content that is quite so innately shareable, so it’s important to sweeten the deal: Offer some specific incentives for those who might share your content. Hold a contest in which people who share one of your posts are entered into a drawing for a discount or prize. When people do share your content — say, on Twitter —tweet at them to offer a word of thank you. Any way in which you can personalize the sharing process is ultimately going to make your company more competitive on social media.

The bottom line: Your plumbing company, accounting practice or dental office may not have the social media clout needed to totally break through all the food pics and selfies. There is no reason why you can’t make a go at it, though, and ultimately gain traction even in this highly competitive social environment.

Image credit: YouTube

Author bio:

Amanda E. Clark is CEO and Editor in Chief at Grammar Chic, Inc. You can follow her company on Twitter. Amanda’s last article for SEMrush was “When Small Business Owners Fail at Content Marketing."

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Amanda E. Clark is CEO and Editor-in-Chief at Grammar Chic, Inc. You can follow her company on Twitter.
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I'm not sure the idea that any social media activity will "ultimately gain traction" is necessarily true. Social media posts have a short shelf life and without a critical mass that creates engagement it's unlikely that the occasional post is really going to make any traction beyond the people you plead with to follow your social media.