When I talk about my job, people are always quick to point out how I “can work from anywhere” and how wonderful it must be. Technically, this is true. I could work from anywhere, if I didn’t care about the quality of my work. There is no way a local business can get the results it needs from social media without their manager actually being there.
Being there, as I’m using it, means both a physical presence and having a deeper understanding of a business as well.
Stock photography, memes or inspirational quotes can be found or created easily, but they don’t replace recent photos and videos of your business, products, staff and customers. It’s far easier to find out what’s going on day-to-day–everything from what’s new in stock to special deals and events–when you’re actually there. If it was that easy to gather information and media remotely from a particularly savvy staff member, that business probably wouldn’t need us to begin with.
To create the most compelling content, you need to know the business and its customers–the kind of intimate knowledge that only comes from listening and asking questions. What do these customers care about? What sort of message will resonate with them? What is going on locally and/or the industry that might affect them or be of interest to them? Experiencing a business first hand will help give you this insight.
“Being there” at Roosevelt’s
Being there has been key for my Roosevelt’s at 7 strategy for over two years. Before I was managing their social media, I was a loyal customer. I learned about craft beer, I watched how the staff interacted with customers, I listened to what customers said about the ambiance, the food and the drinks. This continued when I started working with them.
I learned from spending time there that customers wanted to immediately know when the newest beers were tapped so they could get a pint before it was gone. They loved the patio–it reminded many of similar haunts in Austin and Houston. They wanted reminders about signature events like monthly brunches and beer dinners. They loved looking at and taking pictures of their food and brews.
Nestor has secured one keg of @dogfishbeer Punkin Ale which will be tapped TONIGHT. Do not sleep on this!
— Roosevelt’s at 7 (@rooseveltsat7) September 18, 2014
These insights inform each and every social media post we make. Roosevelt’s was a well-established business when I took over, and you could argue that they would have been fine with occasional posts about newly available beers. Yet instead of reaching a plateau, the restaurant continues to grow even in an increasingly crowded marketplace. Finding new things to post each day is easier when you’re in tune with your client. For Roosevelt’s, there’s always interesting craft beer news or new beer related products to talk about. I can also remind customers about gift cards, catering, or that the kitchen stays open until they close at 2am every night. It’s easy to forget about all the little things that make a business stand out when you’re treating it like just another faceless client. In other words, being there helps humanize your business on social media.
“Being there” helps you when you’re not there
This past week I have been working remotely. Before I left town, I stocked up on pictures and videos, noted key dates coming up and planned out most of the week’s posts. Being thoroughly versed in everything Roosevelt’s makes it possible to not miss a beat over a short period away from the Valley.
Every Monday, Roosevelt’s posts the weekly chef’s special just before lunch time. This is something I usually take care of in person every week, but this week someone else had to take the picture. Without being physically there, I couldn’t control the quality of the picture or when it gets done. We didn’t miss the special this morning, and we haven’t in two years. It is, not surprisingly, a consistent top seller.
What if I can’t afford that level of service?
It is certainly possible to have someone run your social media remotely and cheaply, while still seeing results. However, it will simply never be as effective–especially over the long term–as someone who will be there when needed.
I am not arguing that your social media manager should be a 24/7/365 fixture at your place of business. Yet they should spend enough time to truly understand your business and how to reach both current and prospective customers.
Your social media manager must be your greatest evangelist, your champion. They will build a community that will be equally as excited about your company. That kind of investment is absolutely worth it.