It seems every small business is jumping on the opportunity to set-up their Facebook page and Twitter account.
No one can deny that these services, first intended to connect friends and family, have spread like wild fire into businesses looking to leverage social media as a way to connect with their customers. Social media is a fantastic way to engage your customers and increase business if done properly, but it can also be a distraction and time waster if not implemented correctly.
Many entrepreneurs are disappointed that customers do not come running to their business after they have set-up their social media accounts. Posting messages on Facebook and Twitter just to post messages will lead you no where. Just like anything else with your business, your social media efforts need to be backed by a strategy and a clear purpose. Too many entrepreneurs and small businesses post random messages on their social media accounts that are completely irrelevant to the firms overall business strategy.
If you do set-up your own social media accounts, you need to be consistent and constant with your use of social media. Do not just post one message every 3 months announcing you're now offering a 25% discount. Your messages need to be delivered on a weekly; if not daily basis and your messages need to be relevant to your audience. Consumers want to be engaged. Focus your social media efforts on ways to engage customers and encourage their feedback, their input, and their interaction with your company. Posting random one-directional messages is a quick way for your followers and fans to quickly lose interest in your social media messages.
Social media provides business with the opportunity to potentially connect with millions of consumers for free. There exists no other channel or platform to reach so many consumers at zero cost. Social media should not replace your traditional print advertising or other offline marketing strategies, but it should compliment them. Not taking advantage of a free way to reach your customers can be a costly mistake because if you don't reach them through these channels, your competitors will.
Some entrepreneurs are still negative on the use of Facebook and Twitter. Many feel these social media channels are for the 30 and under crowd as a way to connect socially. If you are uncomfortable with using social media yourself or are dubious on the return benefits that your business can gain, find someone with experience in social media to start for you. Focus on knowing what you want to post to your social media accounts and why. Odds are if you are able to create value and interest through social media, you will generate value and interest for your business.