Although many businesses do have a social media presence, they don’t all engage their communities efficiently. Engaging your social communities takes some effort and practice. There are a ton of courses and books out there that go into detail about why you need to share, how to share, when to share and who to share with. That’s great… but do you want to spend hours a day curating content and publishing to social media?
As a systems thinker, I know there has to be an easier way! And I’m not the only one who thinks that. In doing research to find my own social media management tool for my small business …. I found at least 30 popular ones… and there are hundreds! How are you supposed to select the best social media management tool for your small business?
The first thing you need to do is figure out what is it you really need in a Social Media Management System. It really helps if you have a social media strategy here… I promise. But let’s say you don’t… you should answer just a few questions before you get started.
Pick 1 to 2 social media platforms to get started.
What social platforms are your customers using?
Which social platforms might they be most receptive to your messages?
Determine how much content you want to share.
How often do your customers want to hear from you on each platform?
How much content do you have to share each week?
How many posts per social profile do you expect to make?
How will you generate new content and manage it?
Are you creating new content via blog posts on your WordPress Site?
Do you want to share links from other social accounts you follow? If so, do you want that included in the Social Media Management Tool you are looking for? Or will you do it separately?
Will you be sharing You Tube Videos you created?
Do you want to share your Mailchimp Newsletters?
For any of the above…. do you want this integrated with your Social Media Management Tool, or will you add the content and links manually to the tool?
How much are you willing to spend?
Are you only interested in a Free tool?
Do you want a tool with a pricing plan that grows as your business grows?
How much are you willing to spend now, and how much are you willing to spend when your business reaches it’s current social media strategy goals? Don’t pick a Free plan that has high paid package pricing if you can’t afford it down the road.
Now, if you’ve gone through and answered most of those questions, well…. you’re pretty close to having a social media strategy now! Way to go! Now you just need to figure out what type of content to share. 🙂
Hopefully you also have an idea of what you are looking for in a Social Media Management Tool, or System. Jot down the answers to the questions above, and use them to evaluate different social media management tools.
A google search will bring up the most relevant lists of possible tools, but I also use these sites to evaluate options and narrow down the search when helping clients select the best system for their business.
If the thought of going through all the various possible vendors out there is too daunting or time-consuming for you…we can do it for you!
Select a System
Not sure which application is best for your business? Are there too many possible choices and you don’t know how to narrow it down? We can help make it easy and stress-free! After an initial consultation, we will do all the heavy lifting and provide you a list of 2 to 3 options compared against your specific business’ needs and evaluated against criteria we will help you come up with and refine.
You’ve had enough of Excel spreadsheets and writing things on paper! It’s time to get serious and finally get a system that will make your life easier. Maybe it’s a new Human Resource Management System, Finance System, Marketing Software or CRM. Are you ready for it? Have you heard the horror stories of how your colleagues implemented a new system, only to find out it didn’t meet their needs… or worse, cost them more money than they expected?
Selecting a new system is a lot like shopping for a new cereal… but much more critical!
Never fear! All About Systems is here!
All jokes aside, these 5 (not necessarily easy, but very do-able!) steps will help guide you and ensure you make the best decision for your organization
STEP 1: Make sure you actually need a new system.
Yes, I know this sounds silly, but it is REALLY important! Do you know what the problem is that you are trying to solve? Or do you just think you need a system because you figure you should have one, or that it will miraculously increase your sales or improve efficiency? The last thing you want to do is implement a system that won’t solve your true problem.
Before you start, it’s important to have a Project Charter. That’s just a fancy word for a document that justifies your intent and sets clear goals and expectations so you don’t get side-tracked.
Basically, the Project Charter will give you these key things that will ensure help towards making a new system a success:
A solid reason for implementing a new system.
A budget and timelines to work towards.
A list of stakeholders (these may be funding partners, employees, senior managers, specific departments, governement agencies etc.)
STEP 2: Identify your MUST HAVES.
In my world, these are called requirements. You can call them whatever you want… but make sure you write them down clearly. It does take a bit of practice to get this right, and there are different ways of doing them. Keep in mind that once you get to Step 4, you’ll need to determine which of your potential solutions meets these needs. They should make sense to you and the project. ‘Business Analysts use ‘user stories’, but for small businesses, I’d say it’s sufficient to just state what your needs are keeping in mind that each ‘must have’ should be:
Clear (concise, terse, simple, precise)
Feasible (realistic, possible)
Not specific to any vendor
There is no limit to the number of requirements you can probably come up with. In fact, I’ve worked on projects with thousands of requirements. But keep it simple and manageable. Come up with as many as you can and as many as are relevant to the size of your overall project. I’d say 20 to 30 is a good starting point for most small businesses.
Some examples of good requirements:
Must cost under $10,000 to implement.
Must be available on mobile devices (Apple and Android).
Should cost under $5,000 a year to maintain.
Must be able to track historical data for up to 10 years.
Ability to have an audit trail of all transactions.
Store up to 1T of data in the cloud.
STEP 3: Narrow Your Criteria.
Once you have your list of requirements, go back and look at the list above and re-evaluate them. Identify which are truly must-haves, and which are nice-to-haves. Keep the list for reference in Step 5 and for future implementation. Pick your top 10 critical ones (give or take a few, no one is going to check up on you.).
Create a chart with all the criteria listed in the first column, and then all the systems you’re planning to evaluate in the top cell of the table like this:
Under $10,000to implement
Has 1T storage
STEP 4: Evaluate systems that meet your criteria.
Using the requirements you listed in step 3, start evaluating various systems and fill out the chart. Hmm.. I bet you’re wondering, “But where do I find the systems in the first place?!” How can you know which ones to consider in the first place? Depending on what kind of system you are looking for, there are two sites that could be useful (in addition to a Google Search of course):
These sites both let you search for and compare different options and even let you refine your search by your criteria. Also, be sure to look at the reviews. You may want to add a row for that in your chart. It’s not just about evaluating the software solution, but also the vendor and support you will get post-implementation.
You can also use social sites like LinkedIn or specific Facebook Groups related to your industry or need to ask for recommendations. Networking is a great way to get some ideas of what is already working for others.
Fill out the chart above with the information you find from these sites, as well as the company websites. More detailed requirements may not be easily identifiable. Don’t be afraid to ask for a demo, sign up for a free trial or speak to a sales representative to get more information… just don’t sign anything yet!
STEP 5: Make a decision.
By this point, that is all that is left to do. You have taken the time to give each step it’s due diligence, and now you can rest assured that you have all the necessary information to make an educated, well-informed decision. That said… don’t get stuck in the process. Sometimes, we can keep refining and refining our requirements or adding more alternatives to our list and it gets harder to move past that. Sometimes, good enough, can be enough.
Gather your stakeholders to help you make a final decision. Not only can they provide valuable insight, but if any of them need to be users of the new system, it will help to have their buy-in early on. No one likes change… unless they are at an arcade…. in the 80’s!
No system will match all your needs perfectly, but the right system should be a perfect match for your organization… kind of like finding your life partner. A new system can be a big commitment too. Hopefully, these steps will help you decide which is best for you.
If you really want to get things done and work efficiently, you need business processes in place. But not just any business processes, the right ones. That’s where you can really benefit from increased productivity. Building a business is something that takes time and dedication… and sweat and tears. Sometimes you need to go through all the pain before you can really build a process that works for your business. Processes need to take into account everything you do in the business and the interactions that have an impact.
If you have that panicky feeling every time you think about your business and making sure your customers and your employees are happy, then that probably means your current business processes aren’t working for you. Evaluate how you do business and the processes you have in place on a periodic basis to make sure they still make sense. What worked for your business ten years ago, may no longer be relevant. Don’t keep doing the same things over and over again if they aren’t bringing any value.
Oh.. you say you don’t have any business processes in place? Oh my.. that is a much bigger problem. Well, not really. You do actually have processes in place, but you probably follow it differently each time or feel like you don’t have a process because you’ve never actually spelled it out. It’s pretty much impossible to run a business with absolutely no processes in place. If you look hard enough, you will see that there is a process there already. Taking the time to evaluate how you are doing things will give you the opportunity to see it more clearly and improve on it.
5 Steps For Evaluating Your Business Processes:
Document them. Write them down, even if it is just with pen and paper. List all the different processes in your business.
Define the process. For each process, list all the steps it takes to go from beginning to end. Use numbers to keep it simple… just like this list.
Determine if you have more than one process that has the same set of steps at some point in the process. These are the processes you can start looking at to see if you can bundle them together somehow. For example, maybe you find that you have three different ways to complete a sale because the products are slightly different.
Analyze and rework the processes to make them more efficient. Maybe you can use one order form with slight modifications to handle all three different types of sales. If you identify an area that takes up a lot of you or your employees’ time, maybe there is a way to make it more efficient. Evaluate opportunities for training, technology, and resourcing.
Put it into practice, and re-evaluate periodically. Make sure you communicate the process with everyone and put it in place. It may not be perfect, but after working through all the kinds and re-evaluating the process on a regular basis, it will get better.
While documenting your processes, see if you can convert any of them into ‘How To’ guides for your staff to follow. Knowing what’s expected and having something to reference keeps everyone on task and helps employees be more productive. When you have something to start from, it’s much easier to improve on how you get things done in the future.
And don’t forget… keep it simple and easy to follow!
Want customers to be able to instantly chat with you via Facebook Messenger? Installing a Facebook Messenger bot on your WordPress website is easy. This short video shows you how to configure the bot on Faceboook to reflect your business. You can choose to send the code to a developer to install it for you.. but why pay for it? Follow along to see how easy it is to install the Facebook Messenger chat bot on your WordPress home page. It just takes a few minutes!
Have questions? Contact us for a FREE consultation!