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Is social media right for my business?

Some sales and marketing executives are still skeptical about social media. It’s been one of the most buzzed about topics in marketing for the past few years, but many companies (especially in B2B marketing) are still asking themselves, “Is social media right for my business?”.

Is social media right for my business?

Social media is a broad topic – after all, there are many types of social media, ranging from blog articles to YouTube videos to podcasts to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. I have yet to meet a client who cannot benefit at all from any kind of social media. No matter what business you’re in, you can find some value from being active on social media – whether it’s social media lead generation, gathering business intelligence, getting access to industry thought leadership, or getting customer feedback.

So the question of “is social media right for my business?” isn’t really the right question to ask. That’s like saying, “Is using a telephone right for my business?” Social media is just a tool, like a telephone, and the important thing is that you’re using it most effectively.

Instead, you need to ask, “What is the right way to use social media for my business?” Because even though social media marketing can sound overwhelming at first, the truth is that you don’t have to take an all-or-nothing approach. Instead, you can try a few different formats and tactics, see what works, and scale up or down as needed.

There are multiple ways that social media marketing can help your business, without having to invest too heavily or spend too much time. If you’re skeptical about social media or wondering how to do it right without wasting time and money, here are a few ideas:

1. Keep it simple – but do something

Not having a social media presence – at all – is like not having a phone. Just like having a business website is an essential basic part of your marketing efforts, social media has become another way for people to reach you and find out about your business. Even if you have a very simple Twitter profile or Facebook page, social media can be another “front door” to your business online.

2. Make it authentic to your business

Social media marketing can be what you make of it. The old barriers to entry that were present in “old fashioned” media like advertising are no longer there in social media. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on print ads or have a big budget to make a TV commercial. Instead, social media can be a natural outgrowth of your business’s existing activities and expertise. Write blog posts about what you’d like to see happen in your industry this year. Share photos of new products. Talk about what your team learned at a recent industry conference or trade show. Instead of spending time and money developing expensive ads, social media enables you to share what’s already on your mind as a business owner, and helps you build up your own audience of people who relate to what you say and who care about what you have to offer.

3. Use it to get smarter

Most people think of social media as a way to share your own ideas and share your own news about your business. But besides talking about your own company, social media is a powerful tool to get smarter and learn more about what is happening in your industry. Even if you don’t have a big audience (yet) on social media, you can learn a ton from people on Twitter and LinkedIn who are sharing the latest trends, insights and business intelligence that affects your industry. Twitter isn’t just a place for teenagers to chat about Justin Bieber – it’s a real-time hub of “hive-mind” intelligence where you can quickly search on any topic and get useful information from industry experts. Unless your B2B marketing only deals with the most narrow niche industry that is totally separate from the rest of the world, chances are you can find many people who are worth following on Twitter and other social media. If you’re following the right people in your industry, social media can be like the most valuable, informative magazine subscription you’ve ever had – but for free.

4. Focus

Too many companies take a scattershot approach to social media – they start a podcast, set up a YouTube channel, sign up for Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn…and then they don’t continue to regularly update any of them. Don’t spread yourself too thin on social media. It’s better to have a stronger, ongoing presence on one or two social media channels than it is to jump around among many different social media sites without fully committing to any.

In a few years, as more people spend more and more time on social media, the question of “is social media right for my business” will become irrelevant. Even if you don’t have a big audience on Twitter or Facebook, it’s not “too late” to get started. Even if you don’t have time to create a lot of content of your own, you can still learn a lot of valuable information every day on social media. One way or another, if you use it the right way, social media can make your business stronger.

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  • Porky

    You make a great point Gregg…though I think there is a fear of social media…these strange new tools…privacy issues and all that and the potential for damaging reputations/brands etc..

  • fionan murray

    Small Business Can uses social media. However the quality of the traffic coming from different sources varies greatly. When we promote in traditional ways such as networking events, referrals from Ulster bank branches, eZines and links from relevant partner sites, we get traffic that stays on the site, looks around and downloads material. It engages. Traffic from say Facebook is another matter. The site will get visits in the thousands but visitors hardly stay. We have tried a number of different facebook campaigns and the quality of the traffic remains poor. AsSBC is a B2B platform, is Facebook a place where we can get to SMES and get them to engage or is facebook purely ‘retail’?

  • http://twitter.com/Arrow_Digital Brendan Dunne

    “If I cannot use social media to sell, why should I use social media” is a blog I wrote relating to using social media for business.

    http://brendandunne.wordpress.com/2013/02/07/if-i-cannot-use-social-media-to-sell-why-should-i-use-social-media/