Many small business owners have heard about social media, are eager to get started but don’t know where to begin. Many more have already started with Facebook or Twitter, but aren’t quite sure what they are doing, and aren’t really seeing results.
I work with thousands of small business owners every year, and many of them are missing the boat in social media and internet marketing. As time and attention are shifting to social media, you can’t afford to ignore it any more. More people check Facebook every day than listen to the radio or read a newspaper.
Social media is a FABULOUS tool for small business marketers because they have the opportunity to grow their business without spending buckets of money. Small businesses are also positioned to be successful because they know their customers well and they usually already have a lot of personality and person touch built in to their business.
The hard part for most small businesses is finding the time to learn about social media and create a plan to build social media into their organization. Here are some tips for small businesses looking to get going with social media.
1) Learn to do it Right
Attend workshops or seminars to really learn about social media. Look for a longer-format training program vs. attending a variety of seminars. While you can pick up bits and pieces from attending lunches and short format training you will be missing the bigger picture of HOW to put it all together.
2) Find people in your organization who can help
Find the people who work at your company that are passionate about social media. They are the natural people to help you execute your strategy. Look for people who are passionate about your company or product and social media – they are most likely to be successful.
3) Have social media increase your productivity
Look for untapped resources in your organization. They are often the best people to work on your social media. If your business has a physical location you probably have busy and not-so-busy times. Add social media as an activity for your employees to do during their downtime.
4) Build a process for it
Create a plan and a process for social media. Clearly identify who will do what when. This will help you to be disciplined about your social media efforts, but it will also help you make them a part of the general operating procedures for your organization.
5) Have a social media policy
If you have more than a few employees you want to have a social media policy. Even if you have blocked social media sites it is important for employees to know what is and isn’t appropriate on their personal accounts. A small restaurant once fired an employee for criticizing customers (although not by name) on her personal Facebook page. Let employees know how social media fits in to your existing code of conduct.
Try different things. As a small business you don’t have as much risk as big companies do if you make a mistake. Experiment. See what people are interested in. Don’t worry about if it is a flop. Try different deals/specials/discounts and track the success of each one. This will improve your effectiveness over time.