Not very! A controversial statement but it got your attention.
Before we get started, this article is about the usefulness of social media to your business. Not advertising on social media or monetising your social media accounts.
For most small and medium businesses social media can be very useful but only for certain things and a lot depends on the industry you are in.
So I really do recommend that you get on the social media bandwagon but you need to have realistic expectations and think about what it can achieve. That way you can decide where best to spend your money, time and effort.
There are some types of business where if you don’t have a Facebook store right now you are nuts and stop reading this and go sign up right now! But if you are a car mechanic, a restaurant or a thousand other kinds of business social media is about publicity.
Let’s use Facebook as an example. Facebook is very good for raising your visibility, getting a buzz happening and engaging existing and potential customers. Facebook, is about brand and product awareness. Facebook directly, won’t make you money unless you are in certain industries (this may change in the future as Facebook is doing a lot to wrest market share from Google).
Facebook is great for building a relationship or for any business that depends on networking and lead generation and word of mouth. Facebook is where people can check you out and see what their friends and families are saying about you.
Facebook is the 21st century way of trying to build the kind of relationship you have with the milkbar on the corner that you have been going to for twenty years.
Another very important thing Facebook is great for is to let you gauge who these potential customers are and what people are really thinking about you. What is interesting people, what they don’t like, where you can improve. Are they young, old, male, female, like sports, hate vegetables – Facebook gathers a lot on information on it’s users and you can use that to find out what demographics are interested in you.
Too many businesses try and establish a one way relationship. Do not fall into that trap. It is incredibly valuable to know what people really think about you and it is also a potential goldmine of new ideas, services and products. Take on board what people are saying about you.
But Facebook and other social media are really about publicising yourself and the result of that is a funnel that is feeding your customers to your website and your other portals. So when you build your social media presence always keep in mind that what you are doing is building a network and establishing relationships. And the point of the exercise is to build the business name – so forget the hard sell. That comes later.
Here are a few points to consider.
- What social media is useful? If you are selling bikinis, is LinkedIn really going to be useful? If you are selling bricks is Twitter going to help the business out (what will you twitter about?).
- Don’t use social media to sell stuff. Use it to build a relationship and reach out to people.
- Build a two way relationship. Make sure you are listening to them.
- Think about the next step. Plenty of people now know about me and like what I sell – how do I turn that into money?
- Just to reiterate, social media for publicity – then the website and your other portals to sell things.