With 2010 finally here and staring us in the face, every small business needs to acknowledge the 100 pound elephant in the room, and his name is social media. Many Small Businesses have the same questions circling in their heads…”how do we deal with social media, what are our social media strategies and is it right for my business? Should we ignore it and hope it goes away like another passing fad like Cherry Coke or Members Only jackets?” It’s time for small business to start utilizing social media’s benefits and incorporate it into their daily lives as a small business public relations strategy. Social media is exactly what the small business needs. The small businesses who embrace social media first will be the ones who have an advantage over their competition 5 years down the road.
How is Social Media going to benefit my business?
Small businesses would love to have the public relations team that most Fortune 500 companies have. What small businesses don’t realize is that social media has a lot of the same benefits as a high retainer Advertising agency/PR firm. Social media provides an outlet for small businesses to transmit and share news, events, press releases, success stories, and other business-related information in real-time.
Some of the core benefits are:
- Real-time communication to your customers
- Instant feedback on a product/service
- Raising brand awareness
- Lead Generation
- Drive website traffic
- Virtual focus groups
- Search engine optimization links
Outline your objectives
Social media websites are a dime a dozen. There seems to be a new social media website popping up every day. Some websites are more niche specific while others are broader. Choosing the right social media platform to spend your valuable time can be frustrating. Before small businesses start subscribing to the thousands of social media websites out there, they first need to outline what their goals are for a social media strategy. Most objectives align with social media’s core benefits but some small businesses look for different goals.
Some common small business social media goals include:
- Brand perception
- Competitive analysis
- Customer Service / Support
- Everyone else is doing it
Once a small business outlines its objectives, it can then decide which social media platform is right for their business.
Which social media websites are the best for my business?
Some of the more popular social media websites are Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Flickr, Digg, and many others. LinkedIn is great for networking while Digg is great for bookmarking websites you find interesting on the Internet. Twitter is great for announcing what your company is working on and Flickr is great at sharing recent corporate outing photographs. Anything that you would want to share with your customers, there is a social media website that will meet your needs.
One of the more commonly known social media websites is Facebook. And it recently made news that small businesses need to pay attention to. ComScore just released its November 2009 Media Metrix data, which shows an important milestone recently reached by Facebook, which is 100 million monthly U.S. visitors. Those numbers put Facebook in the same group as Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft websites when talking about website traffic volume. That is a staggering metric that illustrates that social media is not a passing fad but rather a strategic public relations tool for the small business.
One school of thought in deciding which social media platform to spend your time promoting your company is to determine where your target demographic spends their social media time. By default, most people/companies are either on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube or are starting to develop a strategy for creating their own web page. Time is valuable so choosing wisely is a critical element in launching an effective social media strategy. The more active you are within a social media community, the more you will get out of it. If a small business gets into the rhythm of posting and communicating within their social media websites on a daily basis then it becomes routine. The more your communicate and become a valuable member within a community, the greater the return on investment.
New Years Resolution
Start your 2010 Marketing Strategy on the right foot! Small businesses need to incorporate social media into their marketing plan and measure their results. I bet you find your original skepticism and preconceived notions on social media not to be true, and you will quickly see that sharing information in real-time is only going to benefit your business and its bottom line.