Social media is changing the way we interact, especially the way we interact online. It's also changing the way that businesses market and promote their products. Unfortunately, for many businesses, particularly small ones, it's an area that many are struggling to come to terms with.
Revisit Your Plan
Successful businesses have a marketing plan. Their marketing plan helps them advertise, promote, inform and engage with their customers. Their plan helps drive their goals and supplies a road map for all of their marketing activity. Social media needs to be part of that business plan.
Resistance to Social Media
In 2011, Hiscox, a small business insurance company, surveyed a sampling of 304 small business leaders to find out more about their social media usage. The survey indicated that only 12 percent of respondents described social media promotion as a "must" for their businesses, with 47 percent of these leaders admitting that they still don't use it at all for business purposes.
This is a clear case of businesses missing the boat and missing an important way to connect with their customers, as well as reaching out to new customers. So why are business still resisting?
A common refrain I hear when talking with business leaders about adopting these new tools to market their products is the "I don't have time" excuse. Others are still unsure about how to get started.
Another Set of Tools
Rather than making it into something other than what it is, I tell business people that social media is just one more tool in their arsenal of tools that helps them successfully broadcast their product or service out to their potential customers.
An important element and strategy of moving forward with social media is the integration of these tools into your existing website. This can be problematic for companies that don't have a website (some surveys estimate that nearly 70 percent of small businesses still don't have one), or have a website that is out of date.
Your website should be the core of all of your online activity. It's what you'll use to integrate social media and begin using it to interact with your customers. Here are the primary social media platforms that I recommend that businesses consider if they're serious about making a splash with social media:
I also think a business can do a lot with a blog, particularly a business that has more content than they know what to do with. If you're already producing newsletters and in-house publications, then a blog might be a great addition to your marketing strategy, as well as how to push fresh content out to a wider audience.
Next month, we'll look at what a social media plan looks like, as well as what your investment of time might be in adopting social media for your company.
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