Many “older” business owners (defined as anyone over the age of twenty-one) undoubtedly think “social media” websites (such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and hundreds of others) are simply playthings for scatterbrained teenagers. While it’s true that Junior is likely using his revved-up cell phone to blog and tweet and who knows what else, it’s also true that social media websites can generate real revenue for companies large and small. LinkedIn, for example, is a business-oriented social network for professionals that boasts over 80 million users in 200 countries. Those users represent a huge base of potential customers for businesses willing to learn the ins and outs of social media venues.
- Why am I doing this? As with any successful marketing plan, your strategy for using social media sites should be linked to specific objectives. In other words, take time to consider how this new venue can further the goals of your business. For example, you might use social media sites to get feedback more quickly, enabling you to adjust your products and services to meet customer needs more effectively. If you want to establish a widely recognized brand, consider how posting a business profile or interacting with customers via a company blog might further that goal. Social media marketing shouldn’t operate in a vacuum.
- What should I contribute? In social media marketing, as in more traditional forms of advertising, the needs of the customer must take priority. If you’re setting up a blog to share information and updates about your business, most of your content should provide information that’s useful and timely without being overly promotional. In America, the average person is bombarded with advertisements and pleas for money all day long. Give potential customers a break. Provide a clever or unique insight that furthers their goals, and they just might visit you again.
- How much time do I have? Interacting with customers and updating website content takes time. So it’s best to start small and dedicate a portion of each day to keeping current. Imagine your brick-and-mortar store suddenly filling with customers and your staff scrambling to address their varied needs. Your business network can be overwhelmed too. That’s why it’s important to proceed slowly, monitor your time and results, and build your network with care.