As small business owners we are busy. There are not enough hours in the day and the thought of adding extra tasks to an already ridiculously long to do list is about as appealing as poking yourself in your eye with a knitting needle! There is a love hate relationship with many small businesses about social media. They hear “oh you must write a blog, be on twitter, and get a facebook page”. If you are like me, then before you invest time or money on something you need to know the why. My mission for my clients and myself is to not just accept that everyone is doing something you must get on board, rather work out what are the benefits of social media and what approaches work for different businesses and why. So here it is.

What: Wikipedia defines social media as content created by people using highly accessible and scalable publishing technologies. At its most basic sense, social media is a shift in how people discover, read and share news, information and content. It’s a fusion of sociology and technology, transforming monologues (one to many) into dialogues (many to many) into publishers. Social media has become extremely popular because it allows people to connect in the online world to form relationships for personal and business.

Why:

  • Build your brand by adding authenticity e.g. yes there really is a person connected to this business
  • Encourage word of mouth marketing
  • Build relationships with customers and prospective customers
  • It provides a forum to gather customer feedback gaining good ideas for product or service improvement
  • Access to people you wouldn’t get access to otherwise
  • Great way of keeping up with diverse and widely spread customers

How:

Blog – product updates, stories, what’s in store this week, photos with news, timely information

Who: Businesses that have something to say and who enjoy writing

Facebook/Myspace – profile business owners, develop a business page that customers and friends can join as fans and promote to their friends, reconnect with associates from the past, event invitations, special offers to facebook friends, easy and personal communication.

Who: Anyone

Linked In – networking and selling professional services companies

Who: Consultants

Twitter – fast communication, promote specials 20% off today, promote events and urls, real time dialogue, offer customer tips, communicate with customers in a timely way, access to people and information, create a presence a human to the brand, share product or business related information.

Who: Anyone who’s hooked up to their computer, i-phone or pda and has something to say or sell

Flickr – showcase products particularly if they are visual e.g. accommodation, food, produce. Great for telling stories through pictures can be linked with blog and twitter.

Final tip: Action in business is better than inaction. Give it a whirl.