Social media sites are a great way for a small business to increase its online presence and is the cheapest way there is – in other words, largely free – to up your company profile. But there are a few basic things to remember before setting up a page or an account of any kind, because if you get it wrong, it is hard to go back and start again without losing at least some credibility.
Are you ready for the commitment?
It might seem simple enough to get going on, for example, Twitter. Sign in and off you go – what could be easier? Of course, that is true but simply having a Twitter account or a Facebook page is only the beginning. Nothing is more annoying for a potential client who sees the little tweeting bird or the ‘f’ on your business cards to find that when they get there, there is nothing to see. Or, worse, a breezy ‘Hello’ from months ago and nothing since. It makes your business look rather silly and it makes the potential customer assume that you don’t deliver. So the first important thing to do before creating accounts at YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram and the rest is to wait until you have the time to keep things updated. There is software available to keep your presence fresh, but there is nothing quite like the personal touch, especially if you have a very local market.
Social Media Helps with Branding
Along with your website your social media profiles help you to get your brand out there. As well as attracting followers you can also get your social media profiles to rank on the search engines for your brand name. For example by having a Linkedin profile this would allow you a chance to have more than just their website listed on the first page of the search engines when people are searching for your brand name which means that you have more than one chance of that person coming to you rather than going to a website not associated with you.
Is your business suitable?
Not every business will gain from having a social media presence. If you mainly work with a few main clients and providers, it is unlikely that you will get much business from having a YouTube account, for example. However, if much of your business is word of mouth, small unit or non-repeating, then social media is definitely your friend. If your business product is quite ordinary (and we all need ordinary some time) try to think of something else to talk about in your posts because the online community is fickle and will soon get bored and wander away if you don’t keep their attention. Don’t simply retweet or share – get some original and interesting content out there and people will keep coming back for more. If you can squeeze some good SEO content in so much the better, but interesting is also important – people will get the message when they arrive on your site because others have linked to you.
Plan before you begin
What do you expect from social media marketing? Do you have someone on your staff or are you yourself good at the kind of content that it will need? If not, paying someone else is easily arranged, but you should allow for this in your budget. Do you know your core market and will social media reach them? The traffic on the internet is huge and you have to imagine that it is a huge crowd, milling around looking for something to do – how can you make sure that you will stand out and draw their interest? Once you have a small basic community following you, it will soon grow but things can be slow at first, so it is important to persevere. Make sure that all of your printed media has the fact that you are on various social media sites – many people will go and have a look, just because they like to play around on the web. If you send an email, make sure you include links.
And finally ... this is important!
Don’t stop other advertising. Consider social media as an ‘as well as’ not ‘instead’. Make sure you link all advertising to your social sites and vice versa to get the most out of both.