Do I Need Social Media For My Business?
Do I Need Social Media For My Business? This question has been at the height of discussion ever since social media, smartphones and other portable devices became the norm for communicating both socially and professionally. With so many social networks out there, the question “Do I need social media?” would be better substituted for “Which social media would benefit me the most?” This article will give you the basics of social networking for businesses to help inform your decisions about your online presence.
Introducing Social Media
If you are unfamiliar with social media, then you have a little catching up to do. In short social media is any form of interactive community engagement platform, a place to talk to friends and a place to do business. Before social media as we now know it, there were online message boards and AOL Messenger, which acted in the same way, just with a different interface. The main social networks which businesses use these days are Facebook and Twitter, with a large number also using LinkedIn, Instagram, Google+ and YouTube. Over the next few weeks, we will give you a brief introduction to the benefits of each of these social networks and the work required to keep them afloat, starting with Facebook in this post. But before we begin, let us debunk some common misconceptions about social media for business.
Myths of Social Media
I should sign up for as many social media networks as possible.
Whilst having multiple social media sites for you business does on a fundamental level improve SEO, a poorly maintained page with no or out of date information can do more harm than good.
Managing social media is hard.
Social media management relies on a lot of things: awareness of trends in your area of business, copywriting, networking www.skills and customer service. You need to be able to deal with any complaints quickly and in the right way, not just covering them up. Most of these www.skills are naturally developed through business over time.
If you do not have the www.skills which you need to set up/manage your social media, you could use a freelance copywriter or social media manager to help with your networks. A few hours of one-to-one consultancy/training could leave you fully equipped for managing your social media and without any ongoing running costs.
Social media is for my personal life not my business.
Whilst the primary function of social media is a social one, its is a great place for B2C interaction, particularly because a lot of people might want to look for a business whilst being on a website/app that they are familiar with.
I don’t have time for social media.
Social media does take up time, there is no denying it. But by using scheduling tools such as HootSuite you keep the daily social media time to a minimum. You can easily schedule a week on multiple social networks in under an hour, perhaps a task for a Saturday or Sunday morning to avoid using up company/trading time.
Odds are that you already have a personal Facebook profile, but a business page is something very separate. With over 1.3 billion active users, it is the largest social media network in the world, with a huge potential client base. In short, whether you like Facebook or not, it is pretty much essential to have for your business. Consider it like having an advert in the Yellow Pages. If you’re not in there, nobody will find you through it, and with such a wide demographic that is something that you cannot afford, whatever your business is.
Facebook works best as a social presence like a shop-front. Look professional and clean and have a simple design and it can be a great business card to have on the world’s largest pin-board. If you have a little money to spend on advertising, Facebook is a good place to use this, particularly if you have a very targeted market as you can be very specific with your targeting. There is a lot of information about this online including on www.facebook.com/business so have a search and if in doubt, start small and see how it works out for you. The key to any online marketing campaign is to monitor its successes and failures daily and adjust as appropriate. This should only take around 15 minutes a day.
When setting up a Facebook business page, there are a few things to note:
- Fill in as much information as possible. Nobody likes having to look elsewhere for information.
- Don’t duplicate information on all your social networks/website as search engines don’t rate that favourably.
- Do link to all your other social networks.
- Create a call-to-action button to do something – book an appointment, buy a ticket to a concert, email us etc
- Use original photos and your logo to provide clear branding.
- Update at least once a week. Visual content works best so upload an image or link to a video with each post. Also, link to relevant 3rd party content, but try to relate to your business where possible.
- Connect with pages that you are interested in, to help your clients to understand you easily.
So how long should you dedicate to your Facebook business page?
- Setting up: 1-2 hours. Be thorough and make sure that all the information is accurate.
- Posting: Up to 30 minutes per week
- Daily management (replying to comments/posts) : Up to 30 minutes per day
- Advertising: When you know your demographic, targeting adverts can be done in minutes but take some time for the first campaign to make sure that you don’t make any silly errors and invest money marketing to the wrong type of people.
For a fairly minimal daily input, you can keep a well-maintained Facebook business page afloat and up to date. Adverts are easy to set up and monitor and you can even link it to your personal account, to receive updates right away – just be careful not to reply as yourself as an individual on a business Facebook page unless that is your intention. Next time we will look at Twitter for business, a great way to engage with your customers and other businesses through social media in a conversational way.