I was interviewed yesterday for Nett Magazine, a hard copy and online magazine for small business advice. I was asked “Is Facebook a waste of time for businesses?”. Now being a social media specialist, my answer of course was no, but it got me thinking about ways in which small business can access social media and eliminate some of the pressure faced to make it work.
We all know that SME’s often have low or no budgets or resources for implementing marketing and promotion activities. Unlike larger businesses, whose social media success often rides on the coat tails of very large advertising budgets, small business has to build social media from the ground up. Here are some things that every small business can do straight away to get a start on social media and access the power that it has to increase sales, bring you new customers and have your current customers coming back for more.
1. Start Small: There is no reason to feel overwhelmed by using social media in your business. You don’t have to be on every platform. Decide which is best for you. In Australia, Facebook has the highest number of users (10.6 million) compared to about 2 million on Twitter. Some businesses though find that Twitter has far more traction. Our restaurant clients in particular find Twitter works very well, when used regularly. Linking some of your platforms can also mean that you don’t have to post in many different places. Remember though, always post manually on Facebook, as using a 3rd party platform damages your EdgeRank (read this blog for more on that).
2. Replicate content: your business is bound to already be communicating with your customers via other mediums. You don’t need to come up with new and engaging content every day. See it as another communication channel and share the content from your website (adding value – not straight selling), newsletters and emails. If a customer says something nice about you…..share it on Facebook. Better yet – if you can get them to….it is far more powerful: What other people say about you is far more important than what you say about yourself.
Think about information and stories that you have internally and use social media to share appropriate content externally. You don’t have to wait for the monthly newsletter – you can say something to your customers and potential customers every day!
3. Share the load: Social media doesn’t need to sit within just one area of the business. Multiple staff can contribute to the strategy and with a structure in place to ensure there isn’t overlap, social media becomes a part of their everyday role. You can break up the week so that one person is responsible each day, or you can break into role or specialties so that certain topics are covered by certain people. If you really want to see this succeed, consider adding social media as a performance objective in your staff’s role descriptions. That way it won’t get pushed to the bottom of the list.
4. Resource Your Staff with Social Media Skills: Like any business function, you don’t want to set people loose who don’t know what they are doing. You may have staff who already use social media personally and they are probably the best place to start. There are many blogs (like this one) that staff can read to improve their knowledge and skills, or there are courses and workshops that you or your staff can do, to introduce you to social media and give you the tools to make it work. We run a half day workshop called Social Media LIVE! specifically aimed at SME’s and the not-for-profit sector and we also do in-house training and coaching. With a little bit of help, you may find some natural people within your business to be the face of social media.
5. Set a Social Media Policy: Many SME’s are concerned about ‘letting people loose’ on social media as it may damage your brand or business. Give your staff clear guidelines and decide on the tone that your social media will take. There are many sample social media policies on the internet. Whilst this doesn’t substitute good legal advice, it can give you a starting place. It doesn’t need to be complicated, make it one page, but it is essential to give your staff guidelines so that they know what is in and what is out when they communicate through social media.
Stay tuned for more articles on this topic….I could keep writing, but bite sized bits of information generally work better! Feel free to post any questions on our Facebook Page. We love to hear from you!