I recently spoke with a small business owner who stopped using Facebook for his business because he felt as if he was giving away information for free. Lots of people liked his page. Lots of people asked for his advice; advice that he would normally give to paying customers. So, he took his page down and now he only takes phone calls or email inquiries from his website.

Clearly,  his service or product has value because it has been fine-tuned through experience, trial and error, education, hard work, luck or some combination. Whatever it is, it is the thing that differentiates his company from the next guy’s company; it shouldn’t be given away.  Social media campaigns can make business owners feel like they are giving away their knowledge and ability, or worse, letting their competitors gain too much insider information.

Did our small business owner do the right thing? Probably not and here’s why.

The current thinking in social media  is to share good quality content which means sharing information you may actually charge customers for. That’s not such a bad thing. By making your content a resource for your customers, you’ll keep them thinking about your company. Hopefully when they need your product or service they will have familiarity with your company and think to call you first.

Here are some ways to share information without giving everything away:

  • Give Samples. Give customers a small sample of what you can do. Make your company the subject matter expert of whatever you do. Show them how to to do something. Short videos are a good way to achieve this. For example, a tailor may put up a YouTube video about how to sew a button onto a suit. White papers are also  a good way to offer good quality content on some aspect of your business. Perhaps you could provide them with a tool. For example, an accounting firm may provide a downloadable document that helps clients organize documents at tax time.
  • Pay Attention to Current Customers. Have a support system in place for your customers to learn more. For example, set up special workshops exclusively for current customers. Here at Roundpeg, we have workshops for current and past clients.
  • Tell Amazing Stories. Share experiences that customers have with your company. This is where Facebook, Twitter, or a nice blog post come into play. Customers who need more detailed information can hire you.
Sharing information goes a long way in keeping your company in front of your customer’s eyes. Yes, you do have to give some to get some. Be there when they’re ready to buy!