How Important is Social Media?

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The short answer: it depends. 

Being on social media as a business will not work the same way for every kind of business. There are many factors that will go into a successful (or not) social online presence. Some types of business work effortlessly with some social platforms, because of the nature of the product or service, and the audience interested in them. However, not all social platforms (or businesses) are created equally. 

One of the most common mistakes is to think that as a small business you should set up an account on every social media platform out there… Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, Snapchat, the list goes on. While a case can be for some platforms that just having your username reserved with a link to your main website can be beneficial, the truth is that if you’re not going to be active on a particular social platform, it’s typically not worth the effort of setting a profile up. What qualifies as “active” is different for different platforms, but the key word in “social media” is “social”. 

Another problem people run into is trying to keep up with multiple social platforms by using automated posting tools. On the face of things, they can seem like a miracle solution. However, most people can easily spot automated “ad” style posts and tend to ignore them. This goes back to the “social” aspect… you get the most mileage out of a post, by posting in a way relevant to the audience you are trying to engage.  

Perhaps one of the more difficult things to do is to step outside your personal connection with your business, to try to perceive it from the point of view of the audience you’re trying to reach. If you sell cleaning supplies, you can be sure that you’re going to care about specific product issues much much more than most average people. This means you will have to work a bit harder to find the right audience, and to learn the best way to engage them. A great book that gets into a bit of this is Duct Tape Marketing by John Jantsch. It’s not about social media, but more marketing in general, and covers many of ways of thinking that can also benefit you online. 

My advice is to take some time to think about who you want to reach, and then try to determine which social media those people are likely using. Set up your profile there, and then when you post, try to do so in a way that comes across with a personal connection. Humor is a great way to engage with others online, and can help you get your posts liked and shared more frequently. You should also try to like and engage with posts by other people, which will show you to be active. People like knowing there’s people behind the brand name.

Think of the most effective moment you may have had at an after hours business networking meeting… I would bet that it was when you were being social rather than formal. When it comes to social media, don’t phone it in!

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