It was recently asked of me, what social platform do I think is most effective for businesses to use?
But I feel that is misleading…
Why? Every business, small or large, that I have encountered is in some way unique and has the potential to stand out from the crowd. In traditional media, there is no one-trick that works for all business. You never see a company or small business that just uses radio or only places ads in the newspaper to advertise their latest promotion. One thing that is paramount to marketing is diversity.
While it is true that some businesses may favor radio or newspaper over the other marketing options, chances are they use all forms of traditional media to advertise. This idea should also be applied to social media. A business may favor Facebook over LinkedIn or Pinterest over Flickr, but chances are they are on many social platforms; and if not, they want to be and have a plan to get there. Here are my four suggestions to consider, before you choose any one social profile to start with.
Define your goals and objectives
Before you can go any farther, you first need to define what you want to get out of your social media efforts. Are you trying to build brand awareness, drive sales, increase traffic to your website or gain more sales? Regardless, take an hour or two to write down the five to ten goals that are most important to your business. This may seem trivial, but this will help you stay focused and will give you a base to monitor your progress.
If you are a small business and new to the social media beast, don’t try to be on every social site. This will only overwhelm you and leave you frustrated when you aren’t getting the results that you were planning on. My recommendation is to pick one social profile, and get proficient with it. What I mean is that you find your voice and audience. Whether you start with Facebook or LinkedIn, this will take time and will not happen overnight.
Social Tip: Strive for quality over quantity in followers. It’s true, you can pay someone $250 and get 3000 fans overnight, but are these the fan who really like your brand and would go to bat for you? I would rather have 10 really active, brand advocates who follow my profile and actively participate than 10,000 who don’t respond to any post.
Create a Google account and set up Google Alerts
The need to have a Google account has come up on numerous occasions for me during my time as a consultant. Creating an account is simple, go to google.com/accounts and create an account. During the process you’ll need to choose a username. Remember to choose one that matches the URL of your website and one that would fit your business on all of your social profiles. Keep in mind, you are building your online brand; keep your user and profile-names, and your website URL consistent. After you’ve gotten your Google account up and running, sign up to receive Goolge Alerts via email based on the name of your business and any keywords that surround it. This is part of listening to what others are saying about you. While you don’t need a Google account to receive Google Alerts, you will need one to manage them.
Social Tip: Save all your usernames and passwords in a secure place, using 1password or another secure service. Be sure to share this information with any staff that will be assisting with your social development.
Don’t just “do it” because everyone else is
Sit down and figure out how social can help your marketing strategy and our overall business strategy. Chances are you have a well thought out business plan that your business runs by. This plan took lots of planning, revisions and retooling. How social fits into that shouldn’t be a spur of the moment decision either.
By taking the time up-front and thinking about what you want from your social experience you will save countless hours guessing, and you will be more productive and achieve your defined goals. What are your thoughts? Am I right, wrong, or did I miss a major point? Discuss!