Social media is often a big help when you're developing your brand. It allows businesses to connect to customers on a more personal level. But that doesn't mean it's right for every small business.
Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, believes that 9 million small businesses in the U.S. use Facebook.
Twitter and Facebook are useful in different ways. Twitter is known to be better for customer engagement, while Facebook helps funnel traffic to your site. Both sites help you better your search engine optimization (SEO).
Take three steps before launching Twitter and Facebook campaigns and decide which social media platform is right for your small business.
1. Is social media right for your company?
Remember the old question, “If everyone was jumping off a bridge would you do it too?”
The buzz makes everybody feel that social media helps their business. It's likely that's true, but it’s vital that you decide if social media is necessary for your business to succeed right now.
Though millions of small businesses have jumped on the social media train, your target audience might not be caught up in it. If you feel that's the case, it makes sense to hold off. Or, perhaps you aren’t ready to make the most of social media's benefits, so wait until your company is ready.
2. Timing is everything
Having a strong presence in social media takes a lot of time and a lot of resources. If you can’t dedicate the manpower to keeping up a quality profile, it might hurt your brand in the long run.
Look at your team and decide if your business can handle the workload. If it can, then be fully prepared to implement it. Like any good marketing campaign, your social media portfolio has to have a clear identity, and reach your target audience.
If you forge ahead, prepare the information you want to share each week. Figure out what time of the day your posts and tweets have the most impact by reaching your core customers.
3. Set goals and guidelines
In 2011, companies saw a 63 percent increase in marketing effectiveness. But businesses of all sizes are trying to establish a strong ROI when it comes to social media.
Setting goals for the next few weeks, months and years helps you decide if your valuable time is worth the effort and if you’re using social media successfully. It’s also important to set ground rules of who in your company will handle your social media sites.
Decide on what content is and isn’t appropriate to post. Learn how to handle customer interaction and what steps to take if something goes wrong. Then spend some time educating your staff before the first day of having a visible social media profile.
Once you have created a place for your business in the social media realm, look around your direct and indirect competitors' pages. It helps you understand what the best practices are to engage customers.
Also research the different ways social media platforms are reaching out to help small businesses advertise. See if those steps are right for your brand as well.
In the end, social media is another tool for your company’s toolbox. It will only be effective if you can take the time to learn how to use it properly.