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Thursday, 19 April 2012

How To Benefit From Social Media

So here we are with the second installment of my "How To" series, now I could simply fill this post up with lots of stats and bamboozle you with amazing website growth stories but that's not going to help you to utilise it for your own business..

Lets be honest here we're ALL very busy people, one of the things I hear most is "I don't have time to do social media", now in recent times you would simply ring the local paper tell them you want a credit card size ad, send them your text and forget about it.. of course you were then charged what seemed like the cost of your first born son for the privilage but the hassle was theirs and not yours.  Today there is more ownership for marketing especially in small businesses and this indeed does take a certain amount of time.  So what's the best way..?

As with all business decisions take time to review the different platforms, understand their position within the spectrum of social - business and don't rush in joining as many as you can in one hit..
Whilst the scattergun approach may get your website seen in many different places it's unlikely you'll have the time or inclination to keep them up to date once your initial spurt of enthusiasm has worn off.

The obvious candidates are Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Myspace and Google+ of course you can then branch out and look at more niche marketing sites but initially these are the sites best placed to get you started.

So do you need all of them? -  No is the simple answer. 
In my opinion every business should have a Twitter and a LinkedIn account as the bare minimum. These are both at the "business" end of the spectrum and allow you to not only network socially but also promote your business to people that are  interested in hearing from you.
Many businesses are simply not suited to Facebook, and having a static page with no "Likes" or content can potentially be more damaging than not having one at all.  A site that isn't updated or current can give the impression that a company is no longer trading..

Does it have to take all day everyday and will you still have time to actually work..? Well unless you're me then no you shouldn't be on social media sites all day!!  There are a couple of "good practice" rules to get into and then it's down to you to invest as much time as you realistically can afford.
As I mentioned earlier though it IS important that you don't allow your sites to become dormant, try to do something every day so that people begin to get to know you, remember you and ultimately use you!!

So best practice..

  • Use a platform that will allow you post to more than one site at once, I recommend Hootsuite but there are others such as Tweetdeck and Seesmic. This means you only have to say it once and saves you valuable time.
  • Post on the move.  Most of us have a phone that can connect to the internet, so use this.  If you're out and see something worthwhile then share it (although please see my earlier blog regarding Twitter and coffee shops!!).
  • Set aside 1 day a month.  Use this time to schedule business tweets, write your blog and update your website.  Once that's done you can then use any other time for sociable posts that allow potential customers to see you as a real person.  Remember people buy from people NOT companies.
  • Acknowledge.  If someone takes the time to comment, mention or Re-Tweet you then acknowledge it.  Get in the habit of being friendly and good mannered.  In some ways the internet and mobile phones have encouraged people to become less formal in their business relationships and common courtesy can be overlooked at times.  This isn't good practice and as they say manners cost nothing!
Social media is here to stay and is an invaluable tool for any business especially SME's that have little or no marketing budget.  All of these sites are free to use and the only cost is your time.  Can you afford not to?

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