Many businesses dive into using social media without a thought, they learn as they go and some of these are hugely successful. Others assume it’s not the right fit for their business so don’t bother looking. On Tuesday I’ll be talking at the SME Business Summit in Kilkenny about how to decide if social media is right for your business and busting some common myths about social media. Here’s a taster of what I’ll be talking about.
Where to start
Using social media as a marketing tool is in many ways the same as any kind of marketing, you need to identify your customer. It’s no use trying to reach ‘everyone’ even if your target market is ‘everyone’ you need to segment it, define exactly each type of customer you have. Once you have done this you can endeavour to find out if they use social media tools.
One sure fire way to know if potential customers are on social media is to see if your existing ones are, do they have Facebook pages? Twitter accounts? Linkedin profiles? Next draw up a list of dream clients and see if they are using social media. If the answer to any of these is yes list the networks are they using. This should form your starting point, if your customers are there you should be there too.
Things we might not think of a social networks
When we talk about social media most people think of Facebook, some think of Twitter and others may look further. However it’s not just these online websites that are social. Social media reaches much further, essentially it is all interaction on the Internet, whether this happens on an online forum, a blog or through product reviews it is all social. For those of you who know they’re customers are not on Facebook it’s worth looking at how else you can interact with them online. Is it worth you setting up a forum on your website? Can you mobilise a group of people and form your own community? A great example of this in action is Design Spark from RS components. They have built a social network where engineers can share knowledge and learn, it gives them the opportunity to understand their market and sell key products on the back of it.
Are people talking about you online already? This is one of the most compelling reasons to use social media. It’s a common misconception that starting a Facebook page or a Twitter account leaves you open to complaints. In reality if someone wants to complain about you they will, whether you are online or not. If you have a presence you have the opportunity to manage your customer care in a transparent way. Twitter is often used as a customer service tool. I’ve found 02, and Asda very receptive, responding to just a mere mention of their names.
It’s important to know if people are talking about you. If you are a larger company it’s worth investing in a monitoring tool, here’s a list of paid monitoring tools & the costs involved [thanks to Black Dog New Media]. Smaller businesses are less likely to have people talking about them online so the free tools such as Google Alerts are adequate. Here’s a list of free monitoring tools. As a small business it’s also important to monitor the internet for industry trends and competitors, this will keep you clued in and help you decide whether a social media presence is relevant to you.
For more on how to decide if social media is right for your business come along to the SME Summit on Tuesday (29th November 2011) and follow the hashtag #sebiz on the day.