Is social media right for your small business?

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube…. it’s all the rage these days and by now, you’ve seen a heap of websites with these little social media icons yelling out ‘follow me’ or ‘follow us’ or ‘connect with us’.

By far, Twitter and Facebook are the most popular with their growth skyrocketing by the hour and this is great – but what does it mean for you as a small business owner and is it right for you?

Firstly, I recommend not jumping on the bandwagon for the sake of it. Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the right step for you. Don’t get me wrong, social media is a great new channel to explore and get results, if done correctly but your business may not be cut out for it or more likely, you may not be cut out for it.

Secondly, the thing with social media is that it’s all about interaction with others (hence the social aspect) and it needs to be frequent. Perhaps not up to the minute updates but daily/bi-daily is what’s required in many cases. You could get away with weekly updates but any longer and you start to give off an image of being tired, lazy and careless.

Simply put: you need to update your social space often enough to keep people interested. Reality is, many small business owners don’t have the time to do this themselves or they don’t have the staff to do it or they don’t have the budget to employ a company/a freelancer to do this for them. So what happens is that they sign up to these sites in a frenzy and post up a couple of updates initially then half a year later, they’re still only sitting with a handful of updates and a damaged image.

Why damaged? because if you seem to be too busy to do a quick update on Twitter/Facebook, then customers may have a tainted view of your commitment to them. If you’re slack with social, maybe you’re also slack in service? ¬†You’re probably not, but customers can be quite fickle and you need to prevent this from happening.

So how do you know if social media is right for you? Have a look at your competitors and see what they’re doing. They may not be doing anything or much at all but that’s something you can perhaps exploit.

Don’t just rush to tweet about items on special because that just gets lost in the clutter eventually. Look at alerting people to other aspects of your business/website and even offering people something of value (perhaps you have a new article? or won an award?). Or even just interact with people who mention your brand name/products. Check up on them, see if they need any help or if all is well. Encourage testimonials/reviews and friendly banter. Be social!

Whatever you do, just treat it as you would if you were talking to people in real life. Don’t ignore the ‘social’ aspect of social media!