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5 things to think about before you jump into the world of social media

Are you at the point of realising your business needs to be using social media?  Before you jump in head first, here are a few things that you should be thinking of before you start.  It doesn’t need to be a 10 page strategy document, but taking just a few minutes to think about the below can make a real difference to the success of your campaigns.

Why are you doing it?

If your answer is “because it’s what everyone is doing” then you might want to take a step back and think again. Social media is a mine of opportunities and is worth investing in – but only if you know what you want out of it.

Are you trying to find new customers? Are you looking for information? Do you want to share knowledge and talk to like-minded people? Do you just want to know what people are saying about a certain topic without having to take part in the conversation?

Your reasons for wanting to take part in social media will help to inform your choice of platforms, your style of participation and your allocation of resources.

Do you have anything interesting to say?

This isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. Social media isn’t just about pushing information out there, bombarding people with sales messages and tales of how great you and your company are. In fact if that’s the approach you take, you’re in danger of being seen as a spammer rather than someone people want to follow.

You should be looking to share interesting information around your chosen topic, start conversations, tap into what your customers like to talk about and why.

Take the example of MiniSpares – a company selling spare parts for classic Minis. They don’t just pump out listings from their catalogue they have real conversations with people who are crazy about their Mini. They run photo competitions on their Facebook Page; they share their enthusiasm for the subject. People don’t go to their page to buy parts, they go to talk about their Mini and the adventures they have, but when they do need a part or advice, they now know where to go.

Are the people you want to connect with actually using social media?

If they are, then find out which platform they prefer. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn everyone has a favourite and it’s likely they spend more time there than anywhere else. Plus, people are always more willing to connect and talk through a platform they are familiar with and feel confident in.

If they’re not, then your time would be better spent finding out where they do go to network and where they look for their information and concentrate on accessing them through those channels.

Are you after quick results?

Because that’s not what social media is about. You might get lucky and find yourself with a couple of new customers or some great new contacts within the first few weeks but that’s the exception, not the rule.

Whichever platform you use, social media is all about building relationships, putting the time in to listening to people, talking to them, responding to comments and questions until people get to know and trust you. That doesn’t happen overnight.

Do you have the resources to maintain your presence?

For many small business owners, keeping social media channels updated will be yet another thing that they have to do themselves. You’ll need to decide if you, or someone from your team, has the time and energy to keep your accounts up to date and interesting. If you don’t, then you might be better off getting someone to help you or giving it a miss altogether.

We’d love to hear your thoughts so leave us a comment below!

 

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