But is your business really using social media?
There’s a lot of talk about how many businesses are using social media. There was an article in Sunday’s Business Post about it last week – claiming victory for Ireland over England and the US:
The research also reveals that there was a rise in Irish companies using social media to win new business, with 44 per cent of firms successfully winning new customers online.
Although this was below the global average of 47 per cent, Irish firms lead Britain (41 per cent) and the US (43 per cent) in their usage of social media for customer acquisition.
It goes on to list all the different types of social media tools being used by Irish businesses:
Websites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are the most popular forms of social media used by Irish businesses. Firms are also availing of blogs, microblogs and online forums to connect and engage with customers. Nevertheless, firms also emphasised the need for a balance of marketing media, made up of traditional and digital techniques.
I can imagine some business owner, faced with this survey from Regus, ticking the boxes of all the tools he’s ever heard of. Or ticking yes because they have a Twitter account (not touched since March 2010) and a Facebook Profile with lots of friends….
On the same weekend, over the course of being out and about, I met 3 small business owners – all very different to each other and in very different lines of work – but all were expressing worry about the same thing.
- “I know I need to use social media but I don’t know how.”
- “I have a Facebook Page because my mentor from the Enterprise Board said I should have one, but I don’t really do much with it… I don’t know how to get fans.”
- “Don’t talk to me about the other things apart from Facebook and Twitter, I haven’t even got them right.”
And now Facebook rows in with the announcement on Tuesday of its new online education centre aimed at helping small businesses use the social networking site. It’s interesting timing as it underlines Facebook’s support for businesses to be a part of the social network (provided you do it according to their rules!!) which is in contrast to Google’s controversial shut down of business accounts on Google Plus.
Tips for Small Business Owners in Using Social Media
- Don’t set up Pages, profiles, accounts unless you are willing and able to dedicate resource to manage them on a weekly basis
- How often? Try and commit to posting on your Facebook Page 3 times per week for starters. Use Tweetdeck to live on Twitter and it will become second nature and not something you have to count the tweets about!
- Allocate a little budget (doesn’t have to be much) to Facebook ads to reach your target audience. If they are on Facebook and it is an appropriate channel to engage with them, you should grow your fan base pretty easily.
- Once you’ve got fans you have got to engage with them. Write a Facebook editorial plan and stick to it. Try and mix it up in terms of chat, pushing product, and chat again. Images work well, so go and find beautiful images that will start conversations. Be creative.
- At the same time as you’re using Twitter to chat to your followers, start using the Advanced Search feature to find people talking about your service/product in realtime. Choose whether it’s appropriate to engage with them.
That’s what you need to do for starters. Next up is how to extend that activity beyond Facebook and Twitter. How to listen to what’s being said about you and your business across the social spaces and how to respond and engage. Consider how you can move the social activity away from just being something you or your marketing person look after, to something that is second nature to everyone in the organisation.
More on that in another post. Please leave a comment if you want to see this soon. That’ll incentivise me to write it before this season is out.