Is there a day that goes by that we don’t hear the term ‘social media’ being used, either by the water cooler, in the newspaper, on the radio, on TV, in magazines or on websites?
Whether it’s seminars we go to and listen to ‘social media’ experts telling us to get ‘social’, or it’s the newspaper you pick up telling you to do the same, small business is overawed with the amount of social media commentary that is out there, either as advice or general chatter. Small business wants it real. Don’t sugar-coat it.
Social Media is not rocket science. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or YouTube, all of these Generation Y driven phenomena are all just another new vehicle by which we are able to communicate our business, and our lives for that matter, to the outside world.
Each medium has it’s own way of addressing their audience. Like radio, websites, newspaper ads, flyers, workshops, events, they are all a tool of communication. The uniqueness that social media brings to the technologically savvy society is the way we can communicate with it. Social media tends to be more informal. It generally creates a dialogue with members and quite often can generate discussion.
I have advised some of my clients to utilise various elements of social media, and others not. My belief is that social media creates an opportunity to keep in contact with your clients, current and prospective; keep people up to date with their every minute of business day, news, toilet breaks…you name it.
So the question is, how much of your business do people want to know? How much contact is too much, and how much is not enough? I can’t tell you what the right answer is for your business because I’m not one to give blanket suggestions or advice, but these questions would be some of the bits and pieces you need to ask yourself if you are going spend resources on using social media as a communication tool for your business. Unsurprisingly, it’s the similar line of questioning you should be considering for any other medium of communicating your brand.
Working as long as I have in the industry, I believe that not all social media platforms work for all types of small businesses and some work better that others depending on your industry. A professional can advise you in the right direction in which platform will work best for you and your business. Things that need to be considered are who is your audience and are they social media savvy also? If your target market is older, social media is likely not to be as effective. If you are a small business with a young clientele it is safe to say social media will be very effective for you if executed properly.
When social media is a right fit for your business, some of the things that social media can be great for are updates on new products, new brands, new recruits, new events, photos, videos, client wins, opinions, debates, blogs, forums, discussions and general exposure.
Certainly, get onboard the ‘social media’ train to Graceland. Create a profile, but don’t be overcome by all the endless possibilities, just get in there and get involved if you think it’s relevant to your business, just like other potential channels of contact with our potential and current clientele that is out there in our wonderful wonderland of communication tools.
Today there are many online forums that are platforms for communication. For example if you join a website based around your industry there is opportunities for you to post questions and answer other peoples questions. This works well because it creates a new opportunity to generate business by showcasing your brand and knowledge of your industry in a subtle way.
LinkedIn and Facebook are other great examples of how you can promote your business. By creating a company profile you cannot only advertise your brand and its services but post relevant information, create discussion boards, advertise jobs available and much more.
These forums can also run competitions on the social media sites encouraging people to share or re-tweet content or simply post questions that require a response from your followers.
There is no doubt that social media has become an essential marketing tool to help increase exposure for many businesses around the world including many small businesses.
Social media requires constant interaction and can be a full time job on its own. If you are a small business it is a good idea to have an internal communications employee or if funds aren’t equipped to handle another full time employee, a marketing company can be hired to do the work for you.
Social Media...is it important, yes. Should it be ignored, no. Can it be useful, yes. As a small business you have the advantage of having a more targeted approach and a more defined audience, so use this to your advantage and start communicating in this new era now.