Social Media & Small Businesses

If you operate a small business, or know someone that does, we are sure you have been bombarded with social media information recently. Maybe you are a fan, maybe you are still on the fence about it. Regardless of your thoughts on social media, here is the simple truth: it is here to stay.

Today, many small business owners feel a sense of urgency to master the social media landscape. But in a desperate attempt to catch up, many small businesses make critical mistakes. While the mistakes businesses make depend on their size, industry, and market, there are a couple of universally common truths you should know about.

 

1)      Social Media Is Not Really Free

Social Media is awesome because it is free. It will not cost you a dime to join social networks like Pinterest and Twitter. The thought of this is appealing to most businesses, but even more so for small businesses with a limited marketing budget. However, it is far from free when you consider the time you will be spending creating fresh content, managing your accounts, and engaging your community. Signing up might be free, but successfully maintaining all social media accounts takes several hours a day.

 

2)      Time Is Money, And You Should Not Be Rushing It

The social media landscape is always changing, and keeping up with current trends and changes is a full-time job. This often complicates things for a small business owner, who has a limited amount of time and money to devote to social media. So instead of being a part of it all, save your time and money and be selective. Choose two or three of the most relevant and effective channels for reaching your customers, and focus on them. This is much better than having ten social media accounts, but not having the time or money to manage them. Eventually, once your brand is established online, you can look to branch out and find more channels.

Rule of thumb: it is better to not have an account, than having a poorly managed account.

 

3)      There Is No Hard Sell In Social Media

Most small businesses feel like every dollar must count, which makes it hard for them to accept the subtle approach to marketing that is associated with social media. If your social media is just about marketing or sales, you are approaching it wrong. Instead, the focus should be on building relationships and growing trust. Social media should be used to answer questions, provide helpful and fun information, and serve as a trusted resource. Think of it as added value and branding.

 

4)      Social Media Is Not For The Self-Absorbed

Have you ever been stuck at a party, talking to that self-absorbed guy who only talks about himself? Well, that can be compared to the self-promotional brands on Facebook. As a general rule of thumb, only 5% to 10% of your social media activity (i.e. status updates or tweets) should be self-promotional.  Instead, be the life of the party! A well-liked guest at a party is gracious, interesting and interested in others, engaging, funny, and not dominant in conversations. So, in terms of social media, what should you do? Engage with people who post on your wall, share great content from others in the industry, ask questions, and encourage participation. Sometimes, you just need to talk less and listen more.

What do you think? Did we miss any universal truths? Let us know in the comments!