Small Business Owners: When to Back Off and Watch the Show

When starting off with a business you naturally want to be in the thick of things all the time. As soon as you see that little “1” on your Facebook fan page or an @you on Twitter, you leap into action, making sure to talk to that inquiring mind. And that’s exactly what you should do!

However, at some point down the road there comes a time when you realize there’s no way to respond to every message you receive through social media. It’s hard to say exactly when this happens as it’s different for every company; just at some point you sit back and think, “Wow, there’s no way I can physically do this.”

The “issue” is you’ve now got so many fans that if you were to try to speak to them individually you would be at your computer 24/7. Of course issue is in quotes up there because it’s a great problem to have! However, to deal with this you have to figure out when to speak and when to just sit back and watch everyone discuss amongst themselves. Or, in other words, when to let your community build organically without your prompting.

How to Back Off

Wait, what do we mean “how” to back off? Don’t you just… stop posting less? What’s so hard about not talking so much and letting your customers have free rein?

The main problem here is customers who have been around for a long time have come to expect certain things. Remember these are the folks who have been with you since the beginning; they recall a time when the two of you would go back and forth with ideas or just talk about your days. They’re used to daily interaction.

Your new customers, though, may not care about that so much. They may look back on your history and see how much you used to post, but it doesn’t have as much of an impact. If you go cold turkey on your old customers, however, they may take off or think they’ve done something wrong.

So keep your loyal fans in mind when you start to pull back a little. If anything you can communicate via direct messages or email for a while so they don’t get too offended.

Knowing When to Let Your Community Do the Talking

You could almost call the moment you realize you’re too busy to talk to everyone the moment you become a big company. It’s hard to say you’re a “small business” when you’ve got so many customers talking to you each day you literally can’t keep up.

But you can’t be silent all the time, so it’s a daily exercise in choosing your battles. For example, if two or three people complain about a problem on your website, it’s easy to answer them individually. However, if a bunch of people are discussing the issue in one thread and you notice they’re working it out for themselves, there may not be a need for a post. If anything you can say “This person has it right! Sorry for the confusion!”

Of course customers don’t just go on your Facebook page to complain – they occasionally just want to say hello or talk with other fans! In this case often a simple “like” will do unless something major comes up.

Remember, though: if you have the time, interact as much as possible. It’s always appreciated when a company takes notice of its customers!