Social Media is an excellent tool for developing your business, it is free to use and the possibilities are endless. Unlike traditional advertising methods, social media allows you to reach your target audience and interact with them. But there are so many platforms these days that even I struggle to keep up. I have actively been using Facebook since 2008 and Twitter since 2009, with significant and tangible results from both, including winning Dorset Business Mum of the Year 2010 and numerous articles in magazines and newspapers – Twitter is an awesome resource for PR. Now with the likes of Pinterest, LinkedIn and tumblr to name but a few on the scene, how do you pick which is best for your business?
What you need is a social media plan. Following my hints, tips and questions below you will be able to develop a plan for your businesses when it comes to using social media.
First of all make a list of what YOU want to achieve from social media:
- What is the purpose/end goal– new clients/sales, brand awareness, PR & marketing? Determining your goal is important – how will you have tangible results if you don't have a social media goal? Also without a goal you will waste hours just flicking through with no purpose.
- How long, in terms if time, do you WANT to dedicate each day to this task?
- What media do you use most- images, written, video etc. … this will have an impact on what platform is going to be most useful. For example; if you like communicating via images Twitter isn't going to be for you as people will have to click on a link all the time to see your image, but Pinterest is an image sharing platform as is tumblr.
Then use your list to research each platform:
- What does each platform offer you and your customers?
- Is it niche or mainstream? For example Facebook Business pages / Fanpages / Business Timelines (whatever you want to call them) are really useful tools for small businesses, so much time is spent on Facebook that for consumers being able to interact with their favourite brands through competitions, images and in some cases even shop without having to leave Facebook is a real plus. Pinterest is still working on an invite scheme and is not accessible to everyone instantly diminishing your user pool.
- How much time realistically do you need to spend engaging per day, per week, per month
- Ask other small businesses
- Check out what your competition is using and how. Most businesses will have a link to the big platforms on their websites Twitter, Facebook, You Tube etc.. so click through see what they are doing. See what the customers are saying. Think how you could replicate these things in your business. What do you like? Not like? What works well? What doesn't?
- Can you access on the go? Do you need to be accessing on the go?
Now you have your plan and you have researched the platforms, sign up and get started. BUT ...
Give yourself time – you are not going to join Twitter and within hours have millions of followers and be selling loads of products. So stick with it for a couple of months and continue to research and read lots of blogs – I write about Facebook and Twitter – www.joannedewberry.co.uk but there are plenty of other ones out there. (ACEInspire, Social Media Examiner, CopyBlogger)
Tips for getting started
- Promote on your website that you are now using these networks, regular visitors to your website would love to follow you on social media platforms.
- Interact with other small businesses – you'll find that the small business social media community is very friendly.
- Be flexible. You might have to alter your time scales in the beginning and even your goals slightly. You might have to try a few platforms before you find one that works for you.
- Top tip of all enjoy yourself.
Follow me on Twitter www.twitter.com/CharlieMoos
Find me on Facebook www.facebook.com/joannedewberry.co.uk