socialmedia for business

Is social media right for small businesses?

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Social media is certainly here to stay – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Four Square, Flickr, Blogging and many more. Social media has changed the way businesses are now able to market. No longer is it the big companies with the big budgets who can get the most marketing mileage. The playing field has been leveled and small to medium businesses, even micro businesses, all have the same chance to be found and promote their brands, increase their databases and potentially their sales. It is a great way to drive repeat business and find new customers.
Social media is where people come together to share information or just chat – it is really just word-of –mouth marketing that has been powered by technology and it is all about building relationships and engaging. People don’t want to be sold to anymore and the traditional methods of advertising are just not producing the results like they used to.

Many small to medium businesses, instead of seeing social media as a huge opportunity for connecting with their customers and potential customers, perceive social marketing to be something they do not want to get involved with.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIFYPQjYhv8

The most common reasons are:

1. It’s all too overwhelming & scary
2. It’s too time consuming
3. No budget or money to pay someone to manage it for them
4. Worried that it will attract negative comments from customers and so will be bad for business

Let’s deal with these excuses one at a time!

1. It’s all too overwhelming!
Anything new can be overwhelming but with over 600 million users on Facebook alone, businesses would be crazy not to be getting their brand out to as many people as possible on this site. There are many social media sites and not all of them will be applicable to every business. Do a little bit of research and find out where your clients are hanging out – send out an email and ask your clients which sites they are on. Choose 1 or 2 of these sites and start slowly. There is lots of information for business owners to get started with step by step directions not only on each social media site but also out there on the internet. Just Search! YouTube has some fantastic videos for explaining what to do.
It’s free marketing you just have to do it!

2. It’s too time consuming!
Yes it can be – but goals need to be set about what it is that you want to achieve and then you need to implement your plan. Is it to increase brand awareness, increase sales or drive traffic to your website? Social media IS a commitment and it won’t produce results over night but the time spent on these sites CAN be well managed. You don’t have to spend hours chatting to friends and whiling away the day. Stick to your plan, enter your posts, comment on other relevant posts (it is all about interacting) and answer any questions or comments left on your page. There are also tools like www.hootsuite.com that can update multiple sites in one step reducing the time spent. Set aside some time each day and you will find it becomes part of your routine.

3. No budget or money to pay someone to manage it for them
This is free marketing. You can’t have it both ways – you either need to find the time yourself or pay someone to manage it for you. But if you aren’t participating, you are missing out on a growing market. Perhaps you have a staff member who is already using Facebook and Twitter for their personal use who can add it into their daily tasks. Sit down with them in the initial stages and make a plan. Make a commitment to updating them daily with any news or information about the business that you want to share on the social media sites. If you are going to outsource to a social media company, check their credentials. What kind of success are they achieving with their social media marketing for their business? There are some Social Media companies getting phenomenal results for their clients so think about it, those thousands that were allocated in the past to Yellow Pages just may be better spent now on a Social Media Manager!

4. Worried that it will attract negative comments from customers and so will be bad for business
You are better off being on the social media sites and in a position to deal with any negative comments than not knowing what your clients are saying about your business or their experience with you. It is the BEST way to deal with anything less than positive immediately. Remain calm and neutral, never blame, or become angry or abusive. Answer the complaints in a friendly, unemotional way. If the client was well within their right to complain, offer an apology and some compensation. Others on the site will be impressed with your ability to diffuse the situation. I have seen irate clients turned into raving fans from businesses coping with complaints well on social media sites. But, you need to out there to see what’s going on!

So, all excuses have now been put aside. It’s time to take the bull by the horns and just get started. Social media is the perfect platform for micro, small and medium businesses alongside the big players. Get going and you just might find that it’s fun as well!

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