Social Media Tips for Small Businesses

Business owners frequently ask me what’s the deal with social media. Should they incorporate  social media in their marketing plans, and if they do, how should they do it, which media sources should be used, etc.

Now these are busy business people who are stretched for time each and every day. As are their staffs. For many businesses, if the social media work is going to be done, the owner will do it him or herself.

It is in this context that I provide the following statement, followed by a number of caveats. Social media is here to stay, I tell them. In what form and function for business in two years or five years, I cannot predict, but it will be here.   I still have some misgiving on how people will co-mingle their personal lives and business lives on Facebook, especially, but also Twitter, YouTube, Flickr.  There are a host of other issues, but this is a decent place  to start.

The first thing I point out is that social media can produce significant profits if done properly, and that numerous businesses in numerous industries have successfully leveraged social media to increase sales and improve their dialogue with their customers.

However, the strategies implemented are totally unique for each business, I tell them.  Marketing plans are individualized across industry, by size of business, industry subcategory, etc. While B2C can be very profitable using social media, B2B remains problematic. B2B continue to lag behind in its implementation. For some industries, social media marketing can be difficult at best.

With that said, I’m thinking of the industries that have successfully implemented Facebook, nationally it’s generally the major brands Coke and Starbucks, etc. Locally, I find it's restaurants, yoga and other service providers, local community groups. Promotions, product data, items consumers can form an emotional attachment with, seem to do best with consumers.

Can you collect Facebook friends?  This is a good indicator. If you can add a large number of  “Likes” (Friends) on your page you may have a product or service that might lend itself to a wider audience on Facebook and other media. In this case, your best option is to grow that audience and cultivate it.

If this is not the case for your business, and it won't be for many businesses, you will need to incorporate alternate strategies. I'll provide recommendations in my next blog. Please comment or contact me for more information.

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