The thing about social media is, just because you CAN use a tool that is available to you, doesn’t mean you should. So, for everyone who says, you HAVE to be on Facebook, or Instagram is a must! I suggest you first sit back and look at your target audience and your marketing strategies in real life, and then see if Social Media is a viable way for you to reach them.
But what if you find that your pipeline of customers is not as robust as it used to be? While all of the many social media options may not be for you, it is critical that clients can find you online. Even if your top source of new clients is by referral, people most likely will search for you online to learn more before calling. If people are searching for you, by personal name or business name, do you like what they will find?
Search for yourself Online.
If you’re not sure, search for yourself—try your full name and your company name. For me, my LinkedIn profile is always the first result in all of the search engines (Google, Bing, GoodSearch, MSN, Yahoo, etc.). That tells me two things: A.) I want to make certain my Linked In profile is current, top notch and has an easy link to my business and contact info (e.g. don’t, like many do, use an email address you never check), and B.) I may want to beef up keywords on my website to make sure that it is does better in search results.
You are not alone.
Another consolation, if you feel left behind on the social media highway as a small business owner, is that you are not alone. While 82% of small businesses have a website, only 50% use Facebook for Marketing, while 57% are on LinkedIn. Only 26% use Twitter, and blogging, a great way to increase your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) results and thought leadership, is only used by 10% of businesses (per the NSBA 2013 Small Business Technology Survey).
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get started.
The first step in deciding if/which social media platforms are right for you is to determine who your target customer is. And, while you may say “well, really anyone could use this product or service,” think about your “sweet spot.” Who is the person most likely to use your product, and where is that person likely to hang out?
Think also in terms of time and money. While many social platforms are free to use, they take a lot of time. Or, you can save time by paying someone else to manage your social media, but you will invest one or the other.
But don’t do it half-way.
You are better off picking only one or two platforms and keeping up with it, than creating a Twitter, Facebook or other accounts and then never posting. Likewise, make sure you have a good content strategy (please DO NOT simply go on social media to tell people to buy your stuff—it’s about building relationships and being interesting) as well as a strategy that will drive people back to you and your website—e.g. are you collecting email addresses for permission-based marketing, and do you have a system in place to send out a newsletter, even quarterly? And, are you using some form of analytics to know how many people are linking from your social media back to your website or business?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
If it feels overwhelming, don’t be afraid to ask for help. You are an expert in your business, and your focus is in providing your service or being the best at what you do. Likewise, there are others who can help, whether you want someone to set you up so you can manage it ongoing, you want someone to post for you or perhaps train someone on your staff.
But, the bottom line is, online marketing and social media continue to grow, and at the end of the day it is more “which” social media platform you should use, and no longer “if,” to remain competitive now and into the future.