Don't let your social media jitters keep your small business from moving forward

Sometimes, regardless of how good something can be for your business, a person can become so paralyzed with fear that they can't take action on it.

Logic seems to have been replaced by irrational, unfathomable fears because they're not sure what to say online or they just feel like a fraud in general.

The thing is, kids, you can't let that fear keep your small business from getting ahead. And I know you know that. 

If you're someone who finds themselves facing the stomach churning fear of getting your business out on social media in a more meaningful way, stick with me.

You and I are going to take on 5 of the most common social media fears and squash 'em. 

don't let your fear of social media keep your small business form growing

Fear of social media is very real. 

Instead of being psyched about how you can leverage social media to grow and strengthen your small business, you might find that you have an endless cycle of questions running through your head.

  1. What if I look stupid?
  2. What if I look to salesy?
  3. What if I don't know enough about computers and I break the internet?
  4. What if my friends think I sound like a nag?
  5. What if I do all this and no one likes my stuff and you end up losing everything?

Do any of these sound familiar?

Whether you like it or not, your customers have changed. The whole world has changed!

To stay in the game, and consequently keep money coming through the door, you need to be pliable enough to change with it.

It's time to tackle these fears head-on so that you and your business can thrive. 

"All things, including the grass and trees, are soft and pliable in life. The hard and stiff will be broken, the soft and supple will prevail."

— Lao-Tzu, Tao Te Ching

 We wear the superhero outfits and everything.

We wear the superhero outfits and everything.

Anxiety and I are, like, totally BFFs.

I know how powerful and convincing Anxiety can be.

Anxiety loooves to be in the driver's seat because it's bossy as all hell. But it's really important that Anxiety sticks to being a backseat driver.

She's cool for letting you know if you're going to rear-end someone but you do NOT want her as the pilot.

She will always talk you out of new and important things because they're different from your everyday norm. Even if you do try and you're not seeing success right away, she's going to tell you "told you so" and try to convince you to stop. 

She is not in control. You are in control. And you know better. So let's get to those common fears. 

1. What if I look stupid?

AKA: What if I look like I'm not an expert and people point out that I'm a total fraud?

You can know some of the things in your field. You can know a lot of the things. But you will not know all the things.

And no one expects you to know all the things.

But you aren't throwing your hat into the social media ring because you know everything, you're doing it to connect with your customers and potential customers in a way that truly matters to them.

You are a unique special snowflake, just like mom said, and this is important to know. There are people who are going to respond to you who aren't going to understand that message from someone else. 

You have a unique voice that will give another person the "a-ha" moment they've been looking for.

It's a BIG world, there's room for everyone in it. And the world is seriously lacking if it's missing your voice when you have something to say.

People are seeking your authenticity and they desperately want to engage & connect with it.

Have you ever had that moment when you read something and you think, "Yes! This person gets me!"

That is the moment people are looking for. That is what creates trust.

Humans are not perfect. I am not perfect. You are not perfect. People don't relate to perfect. They relate and connect when others show themselves to be human.

People like to know they're not the only ones who are experiencing imperfection. We all do "it" wrong. We all make mistakes. It's OK to let people in and show them you're not perfect.

How to make yourself smarter than you think you are.

You very well may not know everything you're writing about and that might freak you out, leading you to miss out on a lot of exposure and opportunities because you're too afraid of being "found out." 

Here's the trick to becoming smarter without really trying.   

By being brave and putting yourself out there on social media or by blogging, the magical process of writing starts to make you smarter.

You end up doing research on things you're feeling a little bit iffy on. And you either end up saying... "Oh! Neat! I'm right!" and you'll trust that you actually know what you're talking about. Or you'll say, "Oh man, I'm glad I finally looked that up. I didn't realize that changed. Now I know." 

You end up filling in those gaps in your knowledge that you were so afraid people were going to find in the first place, almost by accident.

Sure, you'll find new holes but you'll fill them in, too. And then more holes after that. And more.

You learn more by doing more and by being brave enough to take that first step.

Upping your social media game is going to feel a little bit awkward. 

It's almost going to feel like when you realized you like other people—in that way.

And you're not sure they like you back—in that way. You kind of feel a little bit clammy at first. Sometimes you feel like you want to die because you're REALLY not sure what you're doing and someone you know and like is reading your stuff.

But you start to get over it. You realize people do like you.  

New things take a while to feel slightly less like torture and more like a regular thing you do in your day.

Know that you're going to mess up. You might say the wrong thing or post a picture that doesn't make sense. But you'll use that to figure out what works and what doesn't.

It's a process and you aren't going to learn until you go through it.

Even if you hire me to help you... you still have to go through the process. If you hire me, you won't be alone. You'll have guidance. But figuring out what works for you is something only you can determine.

2. What if I look salesy?

Hm. I get this. It happens to me, too. 

For some reason we're worried that we might come off as a greasy salesperson if we tell people about ourselves. Especially online. Sometimes you have limited character limits or there are formulas for headlines that are catchy.

And it feels a little weird. But... 

You're going to feel like you're selling because you are selling.

We have businesses that either create things or offering services that other people genuinely need and are willing to pay for.

We're not shysters. There's no reason to have this overwhelming feeling that selling yourself is a bad thing. If you don't talk about what you do and how that helps people then how are they going to know you exist?

Do you feel yucky talking about it in person? Then you probably aren't going to come off as a douche online unless you somehow lose your authentic self.

The great thing about social media and blogging is that you can and should be who you are. 

You can't fake your authentic self.

The key is actual, real, honest-to-god authenticity. 

If you're passionate about the product or a service that you're selling—you're automatically headed in the right direction. You can't fake passion, ask anyone who hates their job. 

But how do you figure out how your authentic-self sounds?

To find your authentic expression, pay attention to how you talk. What words make you feel good.

If something feels wrong and icky, it's probably wrong and icky for you.

Just because you're selling something doesn't mean you have to use language that you wouldn't normally use to sell it.

If you try to be someone other than who you are, it's going to come off as being fake. Like Rudolph and his yucky nose.

 Don't squash your authentic voice by mimicking everyone else. 

Don't squash your authentic voice by mimicking everyone else. 

Finding your selling language takes a little experimenting. You're going to have to see what feels good to you and what resonates with your audience.

Unfortunately, like anything else that's good, there's no shortcut. It's not hard but it does take a little persistence and awareness. 

3. What if I don't know enough about computers and I break social media?

This will never happen.

When something like this pops up, it's your Anxiety grabbing the wheel. You don't have to have a degree in computer science to understand how to use a computer.

Google is one of the world's best resources for any question you feel too stupid to ask out loud.

You can ask it anything and it will generally lead you to solid answers. You have to read the article to figure out the answer to the question.

There will be terminology that you don't understand. Good thing you have Google to ask what it means. And, generally, that's as hard as it gets.

"How do I open a Facebook account?"

"What should my first Tweet be?"

"What is Instagram for?"

"Do I need to be on any of these platforms?"

If you can Google a question, you can teach yourself how to use a computer.

"My computer screen is blue, how do I fix it?"

"My Mac has a sad face on it, now what?"

"I don't know where my pictures went on my iPhone."

In seconds you'll have answers to questions that have baffled you for ages. Now they're in the palm of your hand any time you need an answer.

BTW... those questions you type in, those are all really good examples of why SEO works.




The magic button to turn your crazed technophobia brain into a badass computer wiz.

There's a secret key combination that will change your world, technophobes.

OK. It's not really a secret but you might not realize that the command for "undo"—Ctrl+Z, (⌘Z for Mac users)—can undo most keyboard-related accidents in just about any program. It's a total ass-saver.

Try it out. You might surprise yourself with what you can do once you realize that pressing buttons isn't going to hurt your computer. 

4. What if my friends think I'm being a nag?

AKA: What if my world's collide?

It's likely that they will. But they probably already collide in real life. It's a lot less scary that it first seems.

Your friends and family are either going to be supportive and "like" your stuff or they won't even notice it on their timeline.

Depending on the algorithm of the social media platform, it might not even reach them. I wouldn't waste any more time worrying about it.

If your friends don't like it and they complain, they're not a very good friend, are they? 

5. What if I do all this, no one likes my stuff, and I end up losing everything?

This is your Anxiety again.

My anxiety shows up so often that I gave her a name. She looks a lot like Sadness from Inside Out.

Everyone say "Hello" to Mildred.

 She's kind of adorable, right? You can't hate her, she's just doing her job. 

She's kind of adorable, right? You can't hate her, she's just doing her job. 

Here's the thing. Not everyone is going to like your writing. You'll get random unlikes for reasons you won't understand. And YOUR Mildred will probably have a meltdown.

When I first started my Facebook page, it had no content on it and only had my friends supporting me and... I got an unlike.

That unlike fReAkEd me out for an entire day.

I hadn't posted anything recently to offend anyone, how the hell did I even get an unlike?

Who was this mysterious unliker?! Why didn't they love me enough to like me? How could this be happening ALREADY?

I still have no idea why that happened. Or who it was.

It doesn't matter, though, because unlikes happen. And when they do happen they probably won't make sense.

But, I promise you're going to get comfortable with that.

Anxiety has one job and that job is to protect you.

Some Anxieties are overachievers and they go a bit bonkers. When this happens it keeps you from being able to make decisions, even basic decisions.

When your anxiety is an overachiever. 

Karen Young from Hey Sigmund writes about anxiety and how to deal with it. How Anxiety Interferes with Decision Making has some solid advice about how to reclaim your ability to function.

My favorite is #3, "Act as if" which, more or less, is "fake it 'til you make it."

But before you decide that you don't need to read it because you've heard all of that before... go over and read it. Her entire blog is a fantastic example of how the same concepts said in a different voice can connect with you.

And it does it in a way that lights you up when other writers, who say basically the same thing, kind of fell flat.

Unlikes happen to everyone.

They happen to Oprah. They happen to Marie Forleo. They sure as hell happened to the Beatles. 

And they're going to happen to you, too. Because there are going to be some people out there who don't like your stuff. It's just their preference.

You are unique. What you create is unique. And when you're unique you cannot appeal to everyone. It's OK.

This has been a great pep-talk but I'm still freaked out about putting myself out there on social media.

That's OK.

If social media has always freaked you out, you shouldn't expect to become a social media super star overnight (or the night after that).

Just be open to trying it.

Social media is just a different way to connect with people who might not find you otherwise. That's all it is—a tool.

And if you're wondering how much of "yourself" you should allow out into the world... the answer is "as much as you're comfortable with."

Me? I'm comfortable with a lot of myself being out there. I also try to be choosey with what I put out there. On the other hand I also feel like I'm incredibly normal and boring so I get a little freaked out by it. But I keep at it. I see what works and what doesn't.

Start with a little bit first and see how that feels.

You're going to get some things wrong and that's OK—don't let that stop you.

No one is going to condemn you to a life of solitude because you forgot half of your blog post (been there).

Websites and blogs are very fluid. You can change them until you're comfortable with the wording even once they're live (been there, too).

The chance that you're going to hit it out of the park the first time you're up to bat are pretty slim. Which means you get a lot of practice before you develop a big audience.

Enjoy this time when you're relatively small and unnoticed. When you become more popular things are going to feel riskier than they do now when you're small.

Soak up all that you get to learn.

You don't have to jump in all at once. Give yourself plenty of breaks when things don't go right.

Remind yourself it's OK to be an imperfect human who doesn't blog every week or post 18 times to Pinterest at variable hours every Saturday.

The world will not end because of it. Your business will not end because of it.

You only have good things to gain by starting to get yourself out there and have your voice heard.

You're going to help a lot of people. And isn't connecting and helping people the fun part of owning your own business, anyway?

What are YOUR biggest fears about putting yourself out on social media?

I'd love to talk about them. Leave a comment below, or reach me on Facebook @igcdesign.

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Cindy Caughey

In Good Company Design, Barnstable, MA