So you have finally decided to jump in and start using social media to grow your business. Good for you!
But it’s worth stopping before you do to ask yourself a few basic questions.
Specifically the why, what, where, when and how questions. If you can answer these 5 questions you will be well on your way to developing a good solid social media plan for your small business.
Why have you decided to use social media? Is it because you keep seeing it mentioned in the news and thought you would jump on the bandwagon? If that’s the only reason, you need to come up with a better one.
While there is a lot of talk about how businesses will be left behind if they don’t start using social networks, it’s also worth considering that you will be wasting your time and money if you simply jump on Facebook, Twitter or Foursquare without rhyme or reason.
If you cannot come up with a good reason when you ask yourself ‘why will this be good for my business?’ then have a look at the 6 reasons why you should be participating in social media.
What do you want to achieve? Is it increased sales? Better brand presence? Or simply to listen to what people are saying about your brand or sector? All of these are great reasons to join social networks, but you need to have a fair idea about what it is you want to achieve before diving in.
Exactly what social networking sites should you be using? That is a powerful question and one that will have a profound effect on your success with social media.
Should you have a business page on Facebook (or a Community page for that matter), a Twitter account or just use Foursquare? Should you create a blog too?
To answer this question you need to know who your customers are and where they spend their time online?
If you don’t know who your customers are, it is important for you to create profiles of them first, so you can then use these profiles to find out what social networks they are using. This will, in turn, drive your decision about which social network to use – are your customers socializing on Facebook, or are they sharing on Twitter?
This isn’t a question about when you should start (you should be starting with social media as soon as possible), rather about when you have time to devote to social media. You need to figure this out before jumping in.
Discovering when you have time to work on social media is extremely important, as you will need to devote significant time to social media and a lot of business people fall over when they realise that they have not dedicated time in their busy schedules to devote to coming up with enagaging content.
Of course, this can be mitigated to a large degree by paying someone to run your social media for you, but even then you will still need some time to have discussions with the social media professional of choice.
Exactly how are you going to tackle this? Do you know enough about social media or marketing to even think about taking on this task? Or should you hire someone to look after it for you? It is totally okay to do either.
If you do decide to look after it yourself the best way to learn with social media is to just dive in. You will probably make a few mistakes along the way but that’s okay.
On the other hand, if you feel you cannot afford the luxury of any mistakes, or want a more professional approach, you can always hire someone to take the worry out of social media.
Whether you do it yourself or hire someone, you do need to stop and think about social media and ask yourself these 5 basic questions before you dive in.
If you have already dived in, it’s not too late, as you can answer each of these questions now and change your direction and strategy with your current social media experiment.
Have you thought about these questions and have they changed your social media strategy?
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