25May

A common question I’m often asked by a small business owner is “Will social media work for my business.”

The common answer I give “It all depends!”

You’ll here a number of social media experts, agencies and so forth stating “You’ll be missing out if you don’t use Social Media,” which in many respects is true, however, I’m hopefully going to share what you need to consider and let YOU decide whether it’s for you.

If you think social media will be an instant, money making tool to use, I suggest thinking again. You may hit lucky, but from my experience with clients, many will waste their time and as a business owner that’s something we all don’t have. So here’s my take and you can decide whether it’s right for you. I’ve heard and read a lot about Social Media, some of it excellent, some of it OK and some of it just tosh. If you are not familiar with the Digital World, you can expect to be “dazzled and dazed” with the number of platforms, tools and jargon – but don’t be fooled, Social Media is just another form of marketing and before you start a stampede to set up accounts I suggest you take some time-out and consider some simple questions:

What do you hope to achieve? The answer is, of course, more sales but nowadays you need to be a little smarter to succeed. Think about this, you are bombarded with sales messages every day and you don’t take them in, you tune out, so why should your potential customers listen to your “Tweets” or “Posts” of “Buy This.” Everyone is tuning out, so plan ahead, make some time and help your customers… don’t bombard them with a sales pitch.

What do I post/share? This is a common question. It’s so easy to get “Social Media Block” sitting, staring at a screen thinking what do I write. We’ve all done it and finally, we come up with a post that’s of no use to anyone. Let’s not waste time. Let’s spend some time to create great content that helps our customers. Again planning is key.

Who do I connect with?
Socia media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. have millions of users, so it’s easy to find customers right? Again careful planning and research are required. Would you go to a networking event where none of your customers goes to? The answer is NO, but we’ve probably all done that at a networking event, the lesson being, check out who’s going – research is key. Some may say connect to as many people as possible as this will raise your profile and help increase sales – possibly more likely not. If you sell goods and services to the construction industry then why connect to a takeaway or an artist? You could argue that they may know someone that will refer your information to the right place but that’s what I call a “Blunderbuss Approach” – you need to target your market as you would using any other form of marketing. You really need to understand your customers as well. Do they use social media actively? Watch out, Social Media can lead you into a false feeling of achievement, by counting all of your new found “followers” or “friends” but do they add value to your business? Will they share your posts? Or ultimately will they buy from you?

So back to the question: Will social media work for my business?

I suggest the following steps, consider:

Profile your customers – understanding your customers is so important. We often have a broad range, so prioritise them. Be clear on who you will target first, set up criteria for selection and then focus on your best customers first.

Research – Once you know who you will be targeting, then research them on the different platforms. Also be aware of what other goods and services they use, where they go for help as this may lead you to some useful connections if your customers are difficult to find. The point of this is to find out if they use social media and if so what social media channels (Facebook etc.) do they use. Why open a Google Plus account if your customers don’t use it.

Plan and develop – Plan and develop your content around these customers and their associates – how can you help them? How can you add value? How can you develop a real relationship? Your content is key to engaging, educating and informing your customers as to how you can help and you’re providing this for free. Yes, free help, if you’re not prepared for that then don’t bother.

Once your plan is in place get cracking and remember your in it for the long-haul, not a quick fix. It takes time and effort but it will bring returns – Yes that means sales but you need to put in the groundwork first. That’s my advice.

social-media-is-it-for-me

Can Social Media Really Help My Business? It’s a common question… hopefully this will provide you with answers.

So hopefully you can now answer the question – Good Luck!

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