You hate social media but want to use it for your business. Here are my seven points to consider, but only #7 really matters.

1. Posting art or photos by others as your own post (not just sharing their original post) without their permission is technically illegal under the Berne Convention. 

I don't consider myself a pro photographer but I am an active content marketer who does photography, so my photos are valuable to me. People and businesses often use my photos without asking. This is how I handle it: If I think the way you shared my photo is going to lessen my brand exposure, I weigh a few things out. Sometimes I say nothing. If you are an acquaintance who thinks consent and proper crediting are unimportant, I kindly explain why they are important to me. If I don't know you, I tell you that you have illegally posted my work and give you a chance to make it up to me before reporting you to FB, which may decrease your online visibility. 

2. Most image-sharing violations are not legally pursued. Some are even welcome, but do not assume. The best way to be respectful and CYA is to ask first, then prominently tag/credit. 

Are you wondering why anyone cares? Watch the Netflix Black Mirror episode "Nosedive." It is one of the most valuable hours of television made in the last decade. It's great on many levels but for the sake of this article, imagine that every character is a professional photographer; all those likes and shares AKA "Online Engagement" are what get your photos noticed. FB sees that people like your posts so they increase your visibility. A few of us are mainly here for work (besides sharing photos of our pets), so engagement matters. 

3. Your FB page with under 10K follows is not worth putting a lot of time into, unless you are going to pay for ads. 

I am constantly explaining this sad reality. People usually ask for my help after they've spent weeks building up an awesome photo library and ticking all the bells and whistles to complete a business page, then wonder why nobody is engaging with their genuinely awesome posts. 

There are a few exceptions. To find out if your page is one of them, go to your insights: Your long term "organic reach" numbers will be more than 10% of your followers. Now cross your fingers and hope that it's not always the same people in that 10%! 

4. For businesses with under 10K followers on FB or Instagram, the only potentially effective FREE advertising available on social media today is through the use of hashtags on Instagram. 

But not just any hashtags. Try to put yourself in your customer's shoes: someone suggested we use #justdoit on the R2AK insta. Type #justdoit into the search field - what do you see? 15 million posts. Our post would be buried in milliseconds. And who uses that hashtag search? People looking for R2AK-related ideas might be more choosy. Use tags with between 5K and 200K posts. Use tags that you think your desired audience would use in a search. 

For paid ads, proper targeting = best ROI. Do your research. 

5. The only true sign of success on SM is SUSTAINED ENGAGEMENT. That's multiple organic posts being liked, shared and commented on.

The number of fans may impress people, but seven years ago a lot of these were being bought from clickfarms in India (people sitting around being paid to follow and like, then never looking at your page again). Whether you bought fans or not, if you have 20K followers and no comments/shares or just five likes on each post, and if Insights say reach is low, what's the point of putting effort into this platform? 

6. Anyone working in SM can call themselves an expert. 

Want to pay for SM advice? Two tips: first, check pages they run and see if anyone is engaging with non-sponsored(organic/unpaid) posts. Second, realize that SM is constantly changing. Even if they had a degree in SM management, textbooks and lesson plans can't be written fast enough to keep up with the changes. Algorithm influence and insights can all be interpreted in various ways, and if someone is vying for your business because you're fed up with it or someone told you you should have a SM presence or you have too many other things to do -  they may interpret your data in a way that benefits them. Find someone who doesn't have an agenda. 

7. Above all, your definition of the word SOCIAL is the most important part of your Social Media success, personally and professionally. 

How do you define "social"? The dictionary defines it as "relating to society or its organization." This analogy still stands: if you're sitting at a dinner with your friends and all you care about is what you look like from moment to moment, and you're only talking about yourself, people are less likely to interact with you. But if you take a picture of your friends or ask them about their beliefs or lifestyles, and encourage discourse, now you're actually being social. Facebook is a COMMUNITY. Instagram is a COMMUNITY. In healthy communities, you give back. You pay attention to others. And it's proven daily on social media that the more you lift other people up, the more you help yourself. 

About me ( K i m   C a r v e r )
I worked on the water for many years but my passion was always facilitating fun, healthy, honest & progressive community. I began by helping my favorite people, mariners from all over, connect with one another online. I used my online venues and a DIY magazine to inform about education and employment opportunities, and to promote women in the trade. Now I live on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State and help nonprofit organizations and small local businesses with events, advertising, and content marketing.
Photo by Curtis Yu!