Good news: More and more small businesses are getting into social media. Of course, you don’t just start tweeting or posting on Facebook – you need to have a plan, or a social media strategy. How much are you willing to spend (in time and/or in dollars)? What are your goals? Are your competitors using social media? Are your prospects? What do you want to say, and how will you handle vocal criticism?
These questions should be answered before you dive into the social media scene. The last thing you want is to create your social media accounts without having a plan for filling them with content, then end up with a dormant blog or with repeating the same tweet over and over again because you don’t know what to say. And you should definitely have a plan in place for dealing with negative comments, because I guarantee you’ll encounter plenty of them.
Assuming your target market uses social media, you should use it too. Costs are low, especially compared with other marketing channels, and entry is easy. While you should adjust your expectations and remember that social media is very good at giving you exposure and enhancing your brand, but in many cases not so good at generating actual immediate leads or sales, you can still gain a lot from participating in social media.
My small business customers gain customer loyalty. They gain followers that talk about them in social media and recommend them to others. They gain a fan base that in most cases isn’t huge, but is very targeted, loyal and vocal. They gain the ability to listen in to social media conversations that mention their brand – and intervene immediately, if needed, to make things right.
I strongly suspect that many of the 17% of small businesses who reported that their business has not benefited from social media, did not use the best channels for them, did not use them correctly (the right content makes a difference), or simply did not give it enough time.
As a small business owner, social media offers you some very real benefits, for a relatively low cost. If your customers use social media, you should absolutely use social media too.