You haven’t looked at your business’s social media accounts in months. It’s understandable. You’re busy with the day-to-day activities of your company and simply haven’t had the time to create fresh content.
The only problem is that the last message on your Facebook business page was posted eight months ago and you’ve managed to lose the password for your Twitter account.
Your accounts are stagnating, growing more and more stale over time.
And you’re not alone. Countless businesses neglect their social accounts for one reason or another. Whether it’s due to a lack of time (which also happens with email newsletters), changing priorities, or underwhelming results, they’re essentially forgotten about.
But at what point does having social media accounts do more harm than good? Should you delete them when they’ve fallen by the wayside, or is there value in their continued presence?
Diagnosing your social presence
Your social accounts might be on life support, and whether you decide to resuscitate them or pull the plug, it’s useful to diagnose the cause of your predicament in the first place. It’s easy to say “I never had the time,” but that simple phrase could have several different meanings.
There are plenty of reasons why your social media accounts might be languishing. Maybe some of these sound familiar:
- You tend to favor those social media platforms where it’s easier to gain traction, leaving the others to stagnate.
- You invested a monumental amount of time in social media and saw little to no growth, so you gave up.
- You’ve been investing more time into your marketing efforts elsewhere.
- You prefer a “brick-and-mortar” approach to advertising your business.
- You initially found social media to be completely overwhelming and after a few days turned your attention elsewhere.
- The company that built your website threw in a few social media profiles for free, but you haven’t touched them since.
When you know why you’ve neglected your social media presence, it’s much easier to determine your next steps.
Are your neglected social accounts hurting your business?
Here’s the bad news: it’s possible that your abandoned social accounts are hurting your business. How much these accounts are cutting into your profits will depend on a range of variables, including the overall state of your social presence.
That’s because the modern consumer—especially the modern, younger users—uses social media to make all kinds of decisions about a business. When users look at your social media, they’re gauging:
- The personality of your business, and, by extension, of you. Are you someone they want to spend some time with? Users want a peek behind the scenes (which you can also achieve with email).
- The trustworthiness of your business. Younger users want to trust you, so they’re looking to your social media for indications that you’re worthy of that trust (and to see if others trust you as well).
When your social accounts look abandoned (likely because it is), your business seems less trustworthy. It’s similar to having broken windows in your storefront, or defective lighting in your street sign. You don’t look like you’ve got a handle on this running-a-business thing (even if you really do).
Really though, your social media accounts have nowhere to go but up. It’s true that some might find an abandoned social media presence off-putting, and you might lose out on some business as a result. But those are likely to be the same customers who find no social media presence equally suspicious.
That’s why, in many ways, a “zombie” social media account won’t actually hurt your business. And it’s better to think about those accounts as an opportunity for growth that you can store in your back pocket until that point where you’re ready to take advantage of it.
Deleting is permanent: Here’s what can go wrong
If your neglected account is hurting your business, maybe you’ll be better off if you decide to nix the whole thing. What’s so wrong about not having a Facebook page? Or an Instagram account?
Here’s the thing. Deleting an account is permanent. And there are a lot of things that can go wrong when you delete an account:
- Deleting your social media accounts might negatively affect your search engine rankings, making your business more difficult to find on Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
- When you delete a social media account, those users who do follow those accounts might incorrectly assume that your brand has gone out of business.
- You might have a difficult time should you ever decide to rekindle your social media presence.
- New users might have a hard time finding you.
- Any growth you might have received from social media spaces is tempered.
- All of your social media data could be lost (if you have any valuable data on your social accounts, make sure you download that data before you delete your account).
There are other unpredictable things that can go wrong when you delete one social media account. In a worst-case scenario, your brand could be taken over by a usurper or an imposter—or worse, a competitor—tarnishing (or at least encroaching) on your reputation.
That doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t delete your social media. Just understand that this process can be unpredictable, and you won’t always be able to foresee all of the possible outcomes. So it’s better to tread lightly (and slowly). If you are going to delete your social media accounts, you should definitely have a plan in place.
Before you delete: Can your social media accounts be saved?
If you’ve decided not to delete your social media accounts, you have two basic options: allow your “zombie” accounts to continue as they are—not hurting and not helping. Or you can try to resuscitate your social media accounts and get them to start working for you again. If you’re trying to breathe new life into your social media accounts, there are a few strategies you can try.
1. Schedule your posts
It’s hard to make time each and every day to post on social media. After all, you’ve got a business to run! That’s why scheduling your posts can help turn around your social media page. Rather than having to carve out 5, 15, or 30 minutes per day per post, you spend an hour or two and get all of your social media for the month done at one time.
Most social media platforms won’t allow you to schedule posts natively, so you’ll have to use an app such as Hootsuite or Later (or a plethora of others), but this can actually make you more effective and efficient.
2. Vary up your post content
Maybe you were discouraged because it never felt like you were gaining much traction. That’s understandable. One way to fix that (or try to fix that, anyway) is to vary up your post types. Instead of saying the same thing each and every time, or linking out to your website time and again, try switching it up.
Post an image you’re fond of. Follow that up the next day by posting a survey. Maybe the day after that you can post a fun fact about your profession. You get the idea. By varying up your content types, you can keep things fresh and lively. And you can really show your audience who you are.
3. Keep things authentic
Authenticity is the lifeblood of social media. It’s entirely possible that your first forays into social media felt… forced. And they probably were. Everyone was telling you that your business needed to be on social media. So you grit your teeth and created an account and wrote the posts you thought you should write.
And it didn’t work. Sometimes that’s because your brand didn’t shine through. As the owner of a business, you have an opportunity to put a personal touch on your social media interactions–to make every interaction, every post feels authentic to who you truly are. It’s difficult to emphasize just how important that authenticity is to a successful social media presence.
4. Integrate share buttons into your website
One of the best tools you have to re-calibrate and resuscitate your social media presence is your website (assuming you have a website—and you should have one!). Your website is kind of like your central presence on the web, so anything you accomplish there for your social media presence has a positive impact that spirals outwards. On your website you can:
- Integrate share buttons to make it easier for people to share your content. (A couple of tools I’d recommend are Social Pug and Jetpack, which includes social sharing features.)
- Create buttons and links back to your social media so your accounts are even easier to follow.
- Incorporate your feed into a crawl on your website, so visitors can engage and keep up with your posts.
Should you just leave your social media as is?
But let’s say you don’t have time for all that. You’ve tried the social media thing and you’re just not willing to sink any more time into it. Then you’ve got two options: delete your social accounts or leave them as-is.
We’ve talked about the benefits and drawbacks of each approach, but now it comes down to the brass tacks. Which one is actually better? And which course of action is going to serve your business needs better in the long run?
Ultimately, the decision is going to be yours and yours alone. And it’s going to depend on your situation—what you see as the strengths and weaknesses of your business. However, we can offer up some general guidelines that might help you make this decision.
- If you have many followers on your social media channels—especially relative to the size of your business—it’s usually not recommended that you delete your account. All of those followers have a reason for following you. And if you should one day decide to rescue your social media channels, you’re going to want those followers around.
- If you have few followers on your social media, it’s going to depend more on who those followers are. If your followers are mostly friends and family—people who will follow you again without hesitation—you might breathe a little easier deleting your account. But if those are organic, natural, and authentic followers, you’ll want to think twice about deleting your social accounts.
- If you have absolutely zero followers then you can probably rest easy in deleting your account—at least, from this perspective. You should still weigh what it might cost you in terms of search engine or Google maps rankings. If you get a lot of business through your social or map channels, deleting your social account probably isn’t worth the risk.
An opportunity for growth
No matter how anemic your social media presence might be, it’s a nice exercise to think about it like this: you have an enormous opportunity for growth. First, you have a direct line to any followers you’ve already gained. Think of them like a list of leads—and you would probably never throw out a list of leads.
It’s worth keeping in mind that social media and email newsletters aren’t mutually exclusive; rather, they can complement each other as part of a well-rounded marketing strategy. While one attracts news visitors (social media), the other hooks them in and turns them into loyal followers (email newsletters).
Social media is a primary means of lead generation for many businesses. And one thing’s for sure: you can’t run a business these days without at least thinking about social media. At MailPoet, for example, the team uses Twitter and keeps a minimal Facebook presence. It’s all about finding a balance that works for me.
Given the success that some of the top influencers have had, it’s easy to see why everyone else wants to give it a shot. Unfortunately, you may not necessarily get the results that you initially anticipated.
So you’re faced with a tough decision to either delete your social media pages or try to revive them. The choice you make will ultimately depend on the way you want to run your business. Your job now is to take all of the advice you’ve heard and wrap it into your business plan in a way that makes sense for you.