Beginners Guide To Social Media For Small Business

April 15, 2012

by Justine Parsons

 

Social media. Love it or hate it, it is here to stay and for small business social media can be both a blessing and a curse. Let’s look at some of the positives and negatives of incorporating a social media strategy into your marketing plan.

Social media – the positives

  1. A cost effective way to promote your business.
  2. Social media ‘levels the playing field’, allowing you to compete on equal footing with the big companies.
  3. Allows you to hear what your customers are saying.
  4. Increases your audience.
  5. Creates added value to your existing client’s experience through deeper engagement.
  6. Tools are changing all the time.
  7. In the past, companies that had the most money to spend on marketing often won, today it’s the company that produces great products and experiences for their customers.

Social media – the negatives

  1. Can be time consuming.
  2. Daunting if you are not sure where to start.
  3. The wrong online brand strategy could put you at a disadvantage and may even damage your reputation
  4. Benefits of social media are often seen in the months to come rather than immediately.
  5. Tools are changing all the time.

The beginner’s guide to social media

  1. Read as much as you can; blogs, e-books, articles and reference material. As social media is constantly changing, find a group of authors you like and subscribe to their feeds. Follow them on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+ and learn how they use social media.
  2. Spend time on each of the above networks to get a feel for them. Find out which network suits you and where your target customers are active.
  3. Ask for help, both online and offline. By talking to others you will learn from their mistakes however keep an open mind; what doesn’t work for one company may work well for another. Each network offers something different and personal taste plays a big part in preference.
  4. Pick one or two networks to start with and create profiles.
  5. Listen! Make connections, join groups, discussions and follow pages – see which content is shared and commented on the most. What is being said in your space.
  6. Start to participate. Enjoy what you are doing, increase your connections and share content.
  7. Create a strategy. Identify what you want to achieve and how you will accomplish your goals.
  8. Measure. Using tools like Google Analytics and Facebook Insights, monitor key statistics and measure your traffic. Duplicate successes and make changes to your strategy in areas which are not performing as well.

Social media – the statistics*

  • In February 2012 Facebook had 850 million active users
  • In February 2012 Twitter had over 500 million active accounts
  • In February 2012 LinkedIn had 135 million users
  • In February 2012 Google+ had 90 million users
  • In February 2012 Pinterest had 10.4 million users
  •  36% of social media users post brand-related content
  • 2 out of 3 social media users believe Twitter influences purchases
  • 50% of people follow brands in social media
  • 75% of companies now use Twitter as a marketing channel
  • 60% of employees would like help from employers to share relevant content
  • 40% of companies admit to having no training or governance of social media
  • 38% of CEOs label social media a high priority, and 57% of businesses plan to hike their social media spend in 2012
  • One in three small businesses are now using social media
  • 89 percent of agencies said they would use Facebook to advertise for their clients in 2012 – either by purchasing ads, creating pages, or other methods of engagement
  • 39% of agencies said they would focus on Twitter, 36% YouTube, 21% LinkedIn and 18% Google+

* Source: The Social Skinny

If you are one of the many who want to market using social media but just don’t have the time, or are active but know you should be doing more, or would like to do it yourself but need help getting started – please email me. I can help whether you just need a sounding board or looking to outsource.

Recommended reading:

Social Networking Etiquette Hits Rock Bottom

How the Internet Has Stolen Your Business – and what to do about it

Facebook v Twitter v LinkedIn v Google

Asking a Virtual Assistant to Manage Your Social Media Would Be a Big Mistake

Your Turn: How has social media helped your small business and what advice would you offer those just starting out?

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