The Small Business’s Journey Toward Social Media Use

Definition: Social media includes the various online technology tools that enable people to communicate easily via the internet to share information and resources. Social media can include text, audio, video, images, podcasts, and other multimedia communications.1

If you are unsure where to begin your social media journey, the first step is to understand what not to do. Never try to sell or blatantly promote your business. Social media should be used to introduce the person behind the company and to focus on the needs of your customers. Start with a little detective work. Explore the many social media options. Read, watch, or listen to what people are sharing. Discover the trends and popular topics. Get a lay of the social landscape before jumping off the cliff.

Remember to offer useful content, make helpful recommendations, and share your insights. Use social media the right way and you will create and strengthen relationships. Not only will you start to see the benefit to your business, but you might also really enjoy connecting and creating community with individuals around the globe.

Here are some questions to ask yourself for social media to be valuable to your business:

– Do I want to develop new audiences for my content or services?
– Do I want to network with like-minded individuals and companies?
– Do I want to build a community of people who will promote me?
– Do I want to be seen as a thought leader in my industry?
– Do I want to be seen as a trusted source of information?
– Do I want to keep clients and potential clients up to date on changes that might affect them?

The social media journey, like any other, should be planned for. Start by creating measurable goals you want to achieve based on your social media presence. Then do your research and learn from others. Next, develop your network and engage with them consistently by providing helpful content. Ensure that there is alignment and integration between your online and offline marketing. Remember to measure your return on investment by monitoring activity and then make modifications to build on what is working.

All this can be very time consuming, especially if you really start to enjoy the process. As a small business owner you may find you are spending more time on line than running your business. Remember, social media is only part of an overall marketing strategy, so stay focused.

1 http://jobsearch.about.com/od/networking/g/socialmedia.htm

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